You married an entrepreneur, now what?

Nov 6, 2019Family Transformation, Financial Transformation

I have been an entrepreneur for most of my marriage. During that time, I have done some crazy things to keep this business running. Honestly, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be married to me. Over the last 20‑plus years, I’ve learned just how important it is to know the faith that my wife has in me and the faith she has in the vision and burden I carry.

For a visionary entrepreneur, it’s important for them to have a spouse who has faith in them and their abilities as a visionary.  That faith and support is a great and necessary complement to the vision that starts most businesses.  Many couples underestimate the importance of this faith component and the incredible value and insight they bring to the relationship.

This faith spirit is the perfect balance to a visionary.  They are necessary to fuel the vision and often provide a unique set of insights that are a powerful addition when leveraged to their potential. There are three distinct perspectives the faith spirit brings to the table.

Most importantly, the faith spirit believes in the visionary. They trust that their spouse, who has this vision, has their best interests at heart. This allows the faith spirit to buy into the vision and become a champion for the future it can create.

They have confidence that the visionary will figure out the best way to get things done. They become the visionary’s greatest cheerleader, and when the hard times inevitably come, this simple act of belief can’t be underestimated.  When the company’s growth is not following the original trajectory or your expectations, having someone in your corner is often all you need to keep going.

My wife Angel has played this role many times. There have been days in our business that weren’t easy. Without her faith in what we were doing, and her belief in me, I might have stopped. If you travel alone, you risk sabotaging your success, but the right partner can keep you going so you don’t miss out on the great journey.

The faith spirit also helps bring the proper perspective to the growth of the business.   Most businesses are created from a very small investment.  They grow slowly and there are often years that are harder than anticipated.  It’s not uncommon for a business to enter a season where the owners sacrifice their own savings and security to take care of their employees and keep the lights on.

The memory of this experience stays with the faith spirit, even as the business turns the corner and achieves success.  This success is often measured by growth in the owner’s balance sheet.  Unfortunately, you can’t take a balance sheet to the grocery store.

The faith spirit was there through the years when cash flow was tight. They have been there when things weren’t easy. When an owner is positioning to sell, the faith spirit is often the biggest skeptic.  They struggle to believe the money will ever actually show up in your bank account.

They are on board for the journey but carry the greatest doubt that the business will turn into anything with a dependable value. This experience is the reason the next perspective is vital to the long-term success and peace of the entrepreneurial family.

The measure of success for most business owners is the exit. This provides liquidity and financial validation that the years of struggle and investment have all been worth it.  Visionaries are fearless and often operate on the edge. They are comfortable doing things that a faith spirit would never do, such as putting payroll on the line of credit or paying a consultant thousands of dollars they currently don’t have.

For many visionaries a successful exit becomes validation that they can duplicate that success.  Many times, their first thought is directed towards starting another venture.  If they did it once, they can do it again.

It’s important to realize that the faith spirit has a strong bias towards protection and safety. In their mind, the years of risk and uncertainty are behind them.  They’ve ridden the scary roller coaster of entrepreneurship, survived and are ready to leave the theme park.

The first priority must be to provide a level of protection for the faith spirit.   The healthiest exits, I have partnered with, have begun by setting aside money in an account specifically created for liquidity and providing income for the rest of your lives. Although this may seem counter to the way the visionary is wired, my experience is, this simple act provides a perfect balance to protect the faith spirit while allowing the visionary to continue to live out their calling.

At the end of the day, the visionary must be willing to understand they’re operating at half of their best if they don’t include the insights of the faith spirit in their journey. It’s been a joy watching what happens when families recognize that the faith spirit plays an important role, providing incredible leverage to the accomplishments of the visionary.  Those are the families that I have seen achieve the greatest success.

At Paradiem, we believe money doesn’t cause problems, but it certainly has the power to reveal and magnify issues you may have been ignoring. Most professionals do a great job helping business owners create great tax plans that are ultimately horrible family plans. Our experience is that beginning with a different perspective, creates outcomes beyond anything your current professionals have helped you develop.  I encourage you to get a copy of our whitepaper, “Are there unintended consequences hidden inside your current estate or business plans?”  If you would like a copy, email [email protected] with the subject “Unintended Consequences” or give us a call at (985) 727-0770.