There's a steep, emotional price to entrepreneurship. When you're putting everything you have into developing a business idea, the rest of your life and especially your relationships can start to suffer.
One anonymous entrepreneur learned this the hard way, when his spouse gave him an ultimatum roughly one year into building his second venture: Pay more attention to the relationship, or it's over, she said. So he took to networking site Reddit on Monday morning, writing: "She supported my efforts but it's been a year now and she's tried and is sick of it and just wants a normal life... I hadn't kept her in mind enough during this whole ordeal and all I could focus on was my business instead of our relationship."
The Reddit community was quick to chime in, offering their own anecdotal experiences, as well as tips, book suggestions, and lessons learned along the path to success.
Although not every poster was sympathetic to the author's plight--in fact, one user even went so far as to say "You have no right to consider yourself an entrepreneur if you are married"--here's what you can glean from those who were:
1. Make sure that your partner is the right one.
It's no secret that dating an entrepreneur can be tough. That's why settling down with the right partner--one who's supportive, and understanding of the ups and downs of business ownership--is vital.
As one user puts it: "Perhaps being able to choose and sustain a proper relationship is something most entrepreneurs should invest in before anything else." This prompted the retort: "Quick, someone call Elon Musk and let him know!" (The remark may be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that Musk, a famed serial entrepreneur and angel investor, also can't seem to make up his mind about British actress Talulah Riley. The two have been divorced twice, with at least one rumbling that they may be getting back together yet again.)
A more critical user cautioned the entrepreneur to think long and hard about whether or not he'd made the right decision in choosing his spouse: "You know one of the reasons why billionaires get billions? Supportive partners. I know it's harsh and not everyone likes it (cue the downvotes here), but it is the way it is, you should let her go and do not sacrifice whatever you earned."
If you're going to subject that person to unpredictable hours and tight cash flow--with little to no hope of immediate success--it's important that your relationship is solid at the outset.
2. Communicate to your partner exactly what he or she is getting into.
Many posters were quick to point out that the entrepreneur had only been in business for about a year, which is very early on in the process of trying to make a new venture profitable. If his partner wasn't supportive, it could mean one of two things, they argue: She wasn't equipped to date an entrepreneur, or she wasn't aware of the toll it would take on the relationship.
One user cited experience dating several startup founders, as well as working at a startup, to explain this point: "I've broken up with a long term boyfriend because I needed to focus on [the startup] I joined... I went on a date with the CEO of a early stage startup and the entire time I kept thinking 'why are you out here with me instead of working'?"
This is when communication and setting expectations is key. "...As someone who's been on both sides of it, if OP (original poster) hasn't already he should explain the situation to his SO (significant other). She'll have to be patient. It might be 3 more years of dealing with this."
The benefits of having that conversation? Your partner will know what's in store for them, and will likely be more understanding when the problems inevitably arise. The risk? He or she may balk at the prospect of having that sort of a relationship at all.
3. Recognize what you have before it's gone.
The biggest takeaway from the conversation is that emotional support is key, and your partner deserves it just as much as you do. The original poster said it best: "It doesn't take much to just show you care." He adds that it's the little things--such as sending flowers, or asking about their day--which could be the glue that keeps you together.
One subsequent poster, who'd broken up with a partner during the process of starting a business, admitted that "sometimes, I still struggle not having that emotional support through entrepreneurship."
And for those less romantically oriented, if the interpersonal argument doesn't convince you, consider that splitting up can also be massively expensive. As the original entrepreneur paraphrases from the book "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by investor Ben Horowitz,"You know what's cheap? Flowers. You know what's not? Divorce."
Do you have thoughts on the subject? Jot them down below or over at Reddit.