How to make your wife an entrepreneur and not to get divorced: tips for men

Dmitriy Maslennikov, the founder of the venture company Disruptive.vc (former co-founder of the accelerator MetaBeta), shared his personal story which is directly related to business. His wife decided to become an entrepreneur and he supported her. That’s what came out.

My wife became an entrepreneur in the spring of 2016

She came up with her project “The box by A.M.“, small sets of toys, stickers and other small things for children that distract them on a long trip or waiting. From the first day the project became self-sufficient and my wife was keen on her project, which is even more important. I believe that for family happiness and well-being, the wife should be engaged in something that will bring her satisfaction. My wife was on maternity leave and, let’s say, was seeking her calling and a hobby, in order to do something else apart from raising our child. I helped her to become the founder of the project without prejudice to home comfort, and I want to tell you how to develop the creative and entrepreneurial trait and not to be a blunderer.

To avoid misunderstandings and gender battle in the comments, I will say the most important thing: I love my wife most of all in life, I treat the men and women with equal respect and do not divide entrepreneurs on gender basis.
But if the wife does not have where to direct her energy, then she inevitably directs it to her husband. Each family deal with this situation in its own way: someone works day and night, someone buys a business for her, someone manages to maintain the necessary balance and a sense of harmony.
But in general, there are two extremes which are common in my environment:

  • a housewife who does not need to work, because her husband earns enough money,
  • a hardworking wife who wants to prove to everyone that she is better, stronger and richer not only than her friends, but also all men.

When we met, my wife was a second type: a self-sufficient, proud and independent woman who got a job, worked out, partied and had a lot of hobbies. All on her own. From our first meeting to the second wedding anniversary she turned into a housewife without noticing it. But in both cases, she was not absolutely happy: before she worked too much in a place she did not like, and then, as a housewife, did not feel useful.

Once we decided that it was time for her to start a business. I tried to push her to create something based on her hobbies. At best, all this did not inspire her, and at worst, the fact that I was forcing her to do something she did not like, caused irritation.

Then I stopped “helping“ persistently…And it worked. One day, while we were walking in a park in Tel Aviv, she told me with great apprehension that she had two ideas to share. One of them was really close to how I recommended to create startups: it came up from one’s own problem and need.

Since we travel a lot with our kid, we know that it is a test for the couple’s happiness and the nerves of others. But on the last flight my wife prepared and took with her a shoes box where she put different things that could distract our son at least for 30 minutes.

And it worked: our son spent nearly two hours with the box. So that’s who she created a set for travel for kids, “The box by A.M“.

In only one year my wife achieved a fully fledged product. I managed to introduce an international element in the development plans, so we are planning to expand the market and to bring the product to Russian-speaking children living abroad.

Here are some tips for men who want to live with a happy entrepreneur wife, without forgetting about true family values:

  • Don’t push. No matter how you want to help, no matter how much you want her project to become successful and develop faster — do not push, do not rush and do not overdo in your desire to help.
  • Support. For a woman, this is one of the most important functions of her man which does not lose its relevance when she engages in a startup. Whatever happens, be with her but also help to estimate the situation soberly. Your moral support is more important than communication, money and resources which you can help her project with.
  • Let her make a mistake. Give her the right to make mistakes which will not affect the project too badly. Even if it leads to some family budget loss, you always can earn more, but the experience is very valuable. We learn from mistakes, so give this right to her.
  • Don’t criticise in vain. This rule is valid for any relationship, but criticising her project turns you into a project’s enemy and her personal enemy. If you have doubts about these or that decisions, try to find the right words to convey your concerns, without criticising her and her project.
  • Don’t underestimate her project’s significance. If it seems to you that she is doing something insignificant or not super innovational (as you would like), just keep this opinion to yourself. This is a problem of your ambitions, not of her project, so do not transfer them onto it.
  • Don’t mix up business with personal life and vice versa. This is the most difficult one. I do not know what to advise, just try to separate the work on her project and your personal life.
  • Reach an agreement that no matter how the business will develop, the most important thing is your family, not a project or a startup which you also invest a lot into.
  • Don’t try to get a leading role. You can be a hundred times more experienced and know two hundred times better what to do, but this is her project, not yours. If you want, offer assistance, if she asks, give advice, but do not start to lead everything.
  • Remember that she already has one full-time job: you, your children, if you already have it, and your family happiness. Her startup is a bootstrap part-time project.
  • Do not forget that your family happiness does not depend on the startup, but on whether your woman is happy.