February 14 is an important day. If you're an entrepreneur, you know it's the halfway point of Q1. For most of us, it's recognized as Valentine's Day.
And who said entrepreneurs weren't romantic?
Whether you're in a relationship with a person or your startup, it's a special day of the year. And it reminds me how difficult it is to balance a relationship and run your business at the same time.
So this Valentine's Day, as a cofounder of a startup and in a serious relationship, it made me think about one of the most influential articles I've ever read; "You Can Be an Entrepreneur--and Not Get Divorced written by Dave Balter, who happens to be a close mentor and investor in our company. Dave is a serial entrepreneur, having founded Smarterer (acquired for $75M in November 2014) and BzzAgent (acquired for $60M in May 2011) and I really appreciated his candor about struggles with his ex-wife while being an entrepreneur.
Clearly, not having your startup trigger a breakup is a good idea.
So this year my girlfriend and I came up with a three-point plan to help ourselves, and others, make the most of this special day.
1) Reserve one night a week for "date" night--doesn't have to mean going out, but at least reserved for coming home and cooking dinner together. Or whatever we feel like doing.
2) Be transparent and share how work is going. Share things I'm struggling with at work and seek her advice. Include her in my plans and challenges.
3) Set time aside to plan relationship activities for Valentine's Day or her birthday. And write it down. Because if it's not in the calendar, we all know it doesn't get done.
My Girlfriend's List:
1) Don't manage your significant other like an investor, employee, or client. Make sure to switch mindsets and separate business from pleasure.
2) Be romantic. Most businesses require you to exude a level of professionalism and bravado that might be over the top for the intimate moments in a relationship.
3) If you have a business event to go to, ask her to go with you. Introduce her to everyone you know and show her you're delighted to be with her--even if you have to step away to talk to that important potential client.
1) Go out of your way--especially when she needs you most. (i.e. surprise her at her office or come home early with soup or flowers if she's had a tough week).
2) For couples who are both entrepreneurs (the double whammy!): Understand that you will both go through highs and lows at different times and that your schedules might now always sync up. So even if you're "available" or "ready" to hang out with her, be supportive if she needs to work late or take some time to unwind. You know you'll need the same thing sooner rather than later.
True, I don't have all the answers and I'd never pretend to be Casanova. At the same time, I'm committed not only to a cash-flow positive, growing company but a positive, growing relationship. And I'm convinced, on this special day--half way through the first quarter--that both are possible.