We all know it can be a roller-coaster of a ride being an entrepreneur, so having the right support from your family can be critical. On the flip side, it is also critical to find the right balance between dedicating time to your business and dedicating time to your loved ones. Failure to do so can lead to unhappy endings where relationships break down. So, if your objective as an entrepreneur is to create a better life for yourself and your family, managing these two crucial forces becomes possibly one of the greatest tasks you'll face.
A vicious circle
What is the purpose of entrepreneurial success if it breaks up the thing that matters the most in the long term? Family support is vital for making it as an entrepreneur, and nurturing this system must not fall into second place. However, making a success of the business may be critical towards providing the life you envisioned for the family. So the pressure is definitely on!
A lot of entrepreneurs seem to share traits and experiences that are vital for being successful but that can also lead to tricky relationships. Understanding yourself can help you be more aware of how best to manage your relationships. Here are some of the most common traits:
- Passion: entrepreneurs work with passion to make things better or to make better things that solve problems. This means they are likely to spend a lot of time on the business and dedicate less attention to their family.
- Autonomy: entrepreneurial people are driven by seeking freedom and autonomy to make decisions. Without this freedom to act and to act quickly, they would wilt. This is a trait that is clearly at odds with the family system.
- Impatience: entrepreneurs are impatient to get things done making them hard to live and work with. Patience with people, however, is core to building and maintaining healthy relationships, both in the workplace and at home.
- Low tolerance: entrepreneurs tend to have a very low tolerance for internal politics. This skill, however, can be crucial for succeeding in business, and let's not forget that family systems, too, are often not exempt from 'politics'.
Set the expectations
The key question that often stops people in their tracks about what they want to do when starting or running a business is the question "do you have a ‘contract’ with your family?" Do they know you will put the house on the line, the level of risk you want to take, that you will behave in totally obsessive ways for months, not sleep much, get irritable if things are not going the way you want, go through emotional highs and lows and that you will hardly be around mentally, physically or emotionally? The family needs to understand this in order to be able to truly support you!
Entrepreneurs who have managed to be realistic about the workload and the risks, and have nevertheless gained the support of the family, enjoy a truly privileged position. They have a kind of freedom that others who are trying to balance their entrepreneurial ambitions with family life simply do not have.
Talk to someone
It is unlikely you will find the answers in books and videos. Instead, it can be highly beneficial to talk openly to a wise friend or to a fellow entrepreneur. One of the rare benefits of the Business Growth Programme is the opportunity to talk openly to other business owner-managers who are going through, or have recently been through, the same situations you are experiencing. Most BGP delegates go away not only with renewed enthusiasm and an actionable business plan, but also lifelong support from new peers and new friends who understand every aspect of being an entrepreneur, both from the business perspective and the personal one.
Many thanks to Dr Shai Vyakarnam, Director of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship, Cranfield School of Management, for contribution to this blog content.