If marriage were easy, then some 50 percent of first marriages and 60 percent of second marriages might not end in divorce. If starting a business were easy, then some 50 percent of startups wouldn't fail within the first five years.
Combine the two by starting a business with the person you love, and it would appear that the odds are certainly stacked against you.
As you might imagine, Veronica and I receive questions surrounding this topic quite often. But while StartupCamp is "our" business, Veronica has actually chosen to remove herself from the daily operations of the company. However, she is highly involved in the vision, the values, and the important decisions that dictate our future.
But the real magic—and what we believe has truly allowed "our dreams" to be attained—is our fanatical dedication to oneness. Meaning Veronica and I have surrendered our personal independence in an effort to serve and support one another in fulfilling our marriage's purpose. We don't believe in the roommate-style marriage where two people live cordially, yet self-govern their lives fully equipped with separate bank accounts, unconnected ambitions, and autonomous schedules.
We believe in one dream driven by one business held together by one marriage.
But warning you that "it's not easy" would be a gross understatement. A successful dream must be fueled by a successful marriage. It requires a rare level of emotional maturity and a covenant that shares the same moral code and belief system. Furthermore, it also demands a healthy understanding of business, success, and money.
But in terms of chasing a dream together, Veronica and I have done it, we've seen it done well by others, and sadly we've seen it tear some apart. Interestingly, we believe the business portion of this equation isn't all that difficult. We believe it's not weak marketing but weak maturity that breaks a marriage. We believe it's not low sales but high levels of selfishness that send entrepreneurial couples down the road to failure. So below, we've shared what most people won't, what most people can't, and what most people don't understand about building a business with the one you love.
1. Fix your marriage before you start your business
A few months ago, a gentlemen asked me if he should develop an ownership agreement for the new business he and his wife were preparing to launch. I'm sure you can imagine my response. If your marriage is filled with fear or fractured with selfishness or overwhelmed with distrust then starting a business should move off your list of priorities. As I mentioned above, a successful business is the extension of a successful marriage.
We believe it's absolutely vital to heal the brokenness in your relationship prior to starting an entrepreneurial endeavor. As you might know, a new startup adds a layer of complexity and often extreme financial stress to the makeup of a marriage. So whether you're still engaging in weekly yelling matches or dropping the "D" word in the middle of a fight or simply disagreeing in your political views—a business will only amplify the tension within these unresolved issues.
But don't get discouraged. We want you to chase a dream. We want you to build a business. But more than anything, we want you to have a marriage that can support the journey.
2. An egalitarian partnership doesn't work
Many people struggle to separate a person's value from a person's role. For example, in the eyes of God men and women have equal value yet we have unequal roles. But we get ourselves into trouble when we believe a certain role implies a certain value. As an attempt to not undervalue one another, many couples avoid determining a leader and instead default to an ineffective egalitarian structure.
For example, Veronica and I hear this from entrepreneurial couples all the time, "Whenever we have an issue in our business we always work toward a solution that we both agree on." Sounds intelligent. But in reality, they're saying, "We're not mature enough to define a leader in our business." If we look back to every successful human institution on the planet there is one common factor. They each have one leader. From Apple to Facebook and Ancient Rome to the United States Marines every one of them functions with one clear authority at the top. Even Fortune Magazine agrees that Co-CEO's simply don't work.
The same logic reigns true even in your small, marriage-based business. And yes, there will be moments which you two will disagree. But if you're operating within a healthy marriage, your "second-in-command" will have no issues submitting to the leadership of their spouse. Now, let me make a point of clarification. Just because one spouse may be deemed the leader in your business, doesn't make them the leader in your home. In our home, I happen to fill both of those roles—but based on your faith, your moral code, and the belief system in which your family subscribes to, you must determine who will fill these roles in your home prior to starting your business.
3. Calling never compromises.
Over the years, we've watched countless couples chase their dreams right up to the destruction of their own family. We've watched mothers and fathers outsource their parental responsibilities to overused nanny's while children form their value through the absence of their parents. We've seen families of faith turn church days into work days. We've seen husbands and wives elevate the commitment to their business above the commitment to the love their life. But worst of all, we've seen couples remain ignorant to the slow fade that's eroding their marriage to the point of divorce.
Look, true calling never compromises the existing priorities in our life. Your dreams, your ventures, and your passions must fall behind your relationship with God, your spouse, and your children.
So, don't be naive. Don't lose what you have in the pursuit of what you want. But most importantly, be proactive in the protection of the relationships and responsibilities you've already been entrusted with.
Embarking in the business of chasing dreams is exciting. But more than that, we believe it's necessary for creating the life you want together. But it's moments like these where we get the opportunity to see how meaningful those words, "For better or worse, for richer or poorer," truly are.
We Suggest Couples Should Begin Here
Businesses are fueled by dreams but dreams are fueled by calling. In our experience, a stagnant marriage is a result of an uncalled marriage. And a life without a calling can feel like a prison sentence. If you feel lost or stuck or too comfortable, my wife and I wrote brand new his and her’s books (for couples and individuals) to help bring clarity to your calling. They’re titled: “Find Your Calling: Discover What You’re Meant To Do: A 21-Day Guide For Him/Her". These books are short, they're interactive and they're cheap! Buy one or buy them as a bundle. Get your copy by clicking the link below.
Was this article helpful for you? Do you have any advice for working well with your spouse? Let me know in the comments below.