Here are some of my favorite things, in no particular order: stability, financial security, certainty, and control.
On paper, we seem like a terrible combination--like Yankees fans and Red Sox fans, or mutant powers and members of Congress. And to some extent, that's played out in our relationship.
For the eleven years we've been married, Ned and I have had longstanding arguments about work-life balance, time management, and life priorities. I have wrestled with resentment and bitterness over the many ways his startups--especially the current one--have thrown my life into chaos.
Yet for all the bickering and nagging and exasperated sighs that we've traded over the years, we've discovered that we may actually be perfect partners. Ned challenges me to live with more faith and less control, while my questions and doubts have made him a more effective entrepreneur.
How? I support Ned and believe in him, but I ask him to develop strong plans, not just lofty dreams. I hold him accountable to his other responsibilities in life as a spouse, father, and friend.
In fact, skeptical significant others can be your best asset. Here are five ways your risk-averse spouse can push you to do better:
1. Doing the work of convincing your spouse about the viability of your startup will make your business plan better.
The skeptical spouse will have questions--lots and lots of questions. This doesn't mean she doesn't support you. She wants you to succeed, and therefore wants your vision to be as clear and your plan as feasible as possible.
If you can address your spouse's concerns and convince her of your passion and commitment, you will be better positioned to convince potential investors and customers of the same.
2. Your spouse will hold you accountable to goals and deadlines.
Being your own boss is awesome--until deadlines begin slipping and milestone markers begin moving. If you don't have a board or outside investors (or even if you do), your significant other may be the only person who notices when projected revenue doesn't appear or you don't get around to hiring that extra manager.
He will ask you to abide by your commitments--or come up with a good explanation for why this isn't possible. Such an accountability partner can be vital in pushing you to set and achieve goals that help you successfully grow your business.
3. Your significant other will remind you about the other important things in your life.
For months, or perhaps even years, everything related to your business will seem critical and urgent. But humans are not built to work incessantly. We need rest, leisure, and relationships.
If you haven't been taking care of yourself or spending time with loved ones, your spouse will probably call you out on this--and you should thank her for doing so. Giving your brain and body much-needed breaks will, in the long run, help you work more efficiently and effectively.
4. Your spouse will help you evaluate the costs and benefits of continuing with your startup.
When you're caught up in the excitement of a new business, it can be easy to lose track of the costs--personal, financial, and opportunity. No one wants to build a company, only to lose his family, health, or credit score in the process.
Your skeptical spouse is likely keeping an eye on your bank account, your well-being, and more. He can offer valuable perspective on when it's worth it to keep going--and when the costs might be too high to continue.
5. Your spouse is with you because of you, not your business.
Many entrepreneurs, understandably, are tempted to equate their sense of identity with the business. If the company succeeds, you're an amazing person worthy of love and admiration. If the company tanks, you're a nobody.
Skeptical spouses can separate out you--the person they chose to be with outside of any title or share allocations--and the work you do. They help you remember that your worth is not dependent on the success of the company, something that will be invaluable as you ride out the many ups and downs of the startup journey.