So your Spouse is a Founder…

I was sitting in the company bullpen “working” away while our CEO and Director of Client Engagement were discussing strategy on a lead they were pursuing, when all of a sudden I was interrupted and asked point blank if my blog was completed because it was due today! My only defense was to act as if I knew nothing about it and quickly the response from my CEO (Mary Juetten BCOM, CA, CPA, JD, and who knows what else!) was that the email directive could be resent to me. I asked if she really wanted me to write a Blog about being married to an Entrepreneur and Start-Up founder! I wanted to finish the sentence with “you can’t handle the truth” but I thought I had pushed it far enough.

My name is Philip Juetten, so here I go. I will share with you my Top 8 Topics you should think about during your daily routine all while your significant other is in the midst of their start-up adventure – no specific order as some may rank higher for some and lower for others. 

Topic 1 – They need your approval and moral support. You must be their biggest fan and provide unending reassurance. You must be the cheerleader. Remember that they love you and want your approval and even the smallest bit of perceived negativity can cause them to question their efforts followed by a potential tornado which won’t end well for either of you. 

Topic 2 – Listen, Listen, Listen and do not solve! Suggestions are better. Allow them to completely drain their brain of their thoughts about an issue and then provide advice. Remember they likely know the business better than you so being a “know it all” is not good either, so no problem asking questions as you provide advice and weaving your way through it. Objectivity is key because if you are not honest you are doing them a disservice; remember Topic 1 above and frame your thoughts.

Topic 3 – Remember that as with everything in life, timing is everything. Their schedule is grueling and unending and even the most trivial question/issue may come at the wrong time and derail a valuable train of thought creating ramp down and ramp up time they cannot afford. If you see they are busy, let them know that you would like to discuss something at the next convenient time. Do not get upset about being put off, simply do something constructive and let them know it is all ok and can wait.

Topic 4 – Unless you are already independently wealthy, they likely will be bootstrapping the start-up and you definitely will have competing agendas for you’re your personal finances. Talk about personal finance, reference Topic 3 above, and be open and honest and come to an agreed level of personal funding and stick to it – remember things are dynamic and things change so be ready. Stay one step ahead of things – the best thing you can do for them is to have a handle on your personal finances so they do not need to worry about it, they have enough to worry about. And be realistic! 

Topic 5 – Remember that they are the boss of the start-up and you are a supporter. This may be hard depending on the mix of your professional role in your job and your personality. In our case we both are MEGA Type A personalities and I need to actively turn off my work (boss) personality when working on company projects, Mary is the CEO. 

Topic 6 – Do not forget that you are married and need to spend special time together – yes, date. Refer to Topic 3 above and schedule special time to go have some fun times.

Topic 7 – Laptops, Ipads, IPhones, and BlackBerrys. Get used to them, no holds barred when it comes to networking and communication. The bottom line is networking and communication with business associates is essential to the start-up life. Find other things to do when that important phone call comes in or that important email must be responded to. With that said, you own the time in Topic 6 so set an agreed time and make them go off the grid, no rebuttal. They will thank you for it.

Topic 8 – The start-up arena has no room for jealously in any manner, professional or otherwise. Remember you are a team and they are doing it for one single reason – to make a better life for your family together. Regardless of your history as a couple, you must operate on blind faith and trust. 

I could probably sit and come up with more but these are some of the biggies that pop to mind while sitting down and pounding out my assigned project to meet my Friday deadline! My only advice is that being the significant other of a start-up entrepreneur or founder is not the easiest role but can definitely be rewarding if you embrace the challenge together. Come on it is fun, and so is bungee jumping off the Stratosphere in Las Vegas☺!

Note from Mary: This was done on Friday when I got home but it was too late to post because I had pushed back coming home 5 times but then Daniel Tyre from Hubspot dropped in and that was too much fun to leave…


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