11 ways to tell your significant other you are starting a company

Photo by Andrew Branch on Unsplash

Starting a company is not easy. While it is by no means the hardest thing you can do, it is time consuming at a minimum. Before you make the jump to entrepreneurship, I highly recommend getting your significant other on board — if you don’t have a significant other, hurry and start the company before you have one!

Below are 11 ways you can approach the topic of starting a company with your loved one. I assuming that you’ve already made up your mind that you want to start a company. Now it’s just a matter of how you communicate that decision.

Please, can I start a company?

You’ve always said the best way to get what you want is to ask nicely. Well…

Let’s start with the most polite method. It sounds a little weak though. Are you asking for permission or doing it no matter what? Sounds a little bit like you are asking Mom if you can go spend the night at a friend’s house.

I might start a company

Remember when I told you I might start a company? You didn’t say no.

Now we get into full-blown wishy-washy territory. Of course you are starting a company, but this non-commital approach might bring you a non-commital response from your SO. Later you can start talking about it as if you both had a deep conversation about it and agreed it was the right thing to do, so maybe it’s not such a bad approach.

I’m starting a company, damn it

Get on the startup train because we are about to leave.

Now, let’s take it 180 degrees. You go in forcefully. It’s going to happen. Nothing he/she can say will change your mind. (yeah, this wouldn’t work in my household either.)

I’m going to be laid off eventually, so I’m going to start a company now

Bill in Support was just let go for no reason!

Play the sympathy card. You could lead up to this conversation with all the rumors you are hearing at work about a big layoff coming up. Start planting those seeds of doubt that your current gig isn’t great…makes a startup not seem so bad!

I’m realizing a childhood dream by starting a company

Other kids wanted to be a baseball player or football player, but I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Another version of the sympathy card. No one wants to get in the way of your childhood dreams, right? For this to work, you really need to have been laying the groundwork over time. Have you at least said in the past you wanted to start a company? If so, this is a viable option.

I’m starting a side project

I’m going to scratch an itch with a new side project.

“Side project” sounds way easier than “all encompassing new startup that will drain 10 years of my life.” Pitch your new business as a side project until you can get your loved one comfortable that you won’t abandon it when the next season of Game of Thrones starts.

I’m taking an online course

These online courses will make me so much more marketable!

Now we are getting into full-blown “white lie” territory. Taking an online course would presumably take up a lot of your time so there is that, but this isn’t a great long-term solution.

Honey, I got you a new puppy (and I’m starting a company)

Isn’t this puppy so cute you are going to totally love it that I’m starting a company.

Say it all as one sentence and speed up the second part where it is barely audible. Butter up your SO before delivering the news. Hard to be mad at you with a cute puppy in hand, amiright?

I’ve got an idea that will make us millions!

This will make us financially secure down the road.

If your SO is motivated by money, play up the possibility of a fantastic return one day when you sell your company for millions and millions of dollars! We all know there is no guarantee you’ll make even hundreds and hundreds of dollars on your startup, but what are the odds your SO will remember this conversation 10 years from now when you are done?

I’m advising a new startup

It’s a really interesting company that needs a little of my time.

This approach allows you to ease into the new company. It doesn’t sound like such a life changing event. You just better hope your SO doesn’t tell you shortly after this: “Glad you are just advising because I would never want you to do this full-time!”

I really want to start a company, but can’t do it without your support. What do you say?

I left the best for last. Actually, I left the only option for last. The previous ten approaches aren’t really options.

I do believe whether you start a company is a personal decision that only you can decide, but if you have a family or a significant relationship with someone, the truth is you need their support. Running a company is hard enough and without the support from your loved ones, it only gets harder. It won’t always be easy — I remember when my wife asked after year two of my startup when I was going back to work at Cisco — but having a supportive spouse can mean the difference between fighting through the hard times and closing up shop early.