Strengthening Your Business’s Most Important Partnership

a.k.a. “How startups almost destroyed my family.”

How many of these sound familiar?

“Why can’t you work as hard on fixing the sink as you do on your startup?”
“You’ve been working all week. The weekend is for our family taking a break… can you take a break?”
“Just because I am the boss, that doesn’t mean I can slack off.”
“When are you going to get a real job?”
“Why the &@*# are you working with those people? They are making you tough to be around.”
“Honestly, I put our family stuff in front of my business way too often. If I had a real job, we couldn’t do a lot the things we do.”
“How much debt are we in again? I lost count.”
“Don’t worry, next month is going to be better, because [something about a new partnership / I met a VC last night / this new growth hack is totally going to work]!”
“How much longer are you going to keep playing around with your company?”
“Yes, I would rather be spending time with the family, but I have to get this done if you want us to be able to retire early.”
“All I want is a little attention, but you’re always staring at your computer.”
“If something doesn’t change we’re headed for a divorce…”

These are all direct quotes from entrepreneur couples my wife and I have talked to. Some of these I have said or heard myself. For better or worse, none of these are surprising.

Photo of me taken over lunch with a founder-friend in year 2.5 of trying to “crush it” with my last startup. I actually thought I was having a pretty good day, and was completely surprised when I saw this on Facebook. Turns out it was crushing me.

Building a company from scratch is hard work and high risk. Even when both people in a relationship agree to go down that path, it is almost guaranteed that it will get tough somewhere along the way.

It seems like founders are either born with, or develop, a whole set of survival skills to will their ideas into existence: Fake it till you make it. Hustle. Believe in the impossible. Disrupt everything. Crush it. Cross the chasm. Escape the valley of despair. Whatever it takes. Never give up. Never quit. Never. Quit.

Maybe some of these need to be reconsidered. Or, maybe all of these are required to 10x or 100x a business and birth a unicorn. But, most of these things can be very hard on a relationship. If we, as couples, want to survive and thrive in an entrepreneurial environment, we need to learn some new skills and develop some new habits.

I won’t copy and paste all the best advice here. There are tons of great posts and books covering this topic from wonderful people like Amy Batchelor, Michele Bustamante, Brad Feld, Meg Hirshberg, Kevin Kruse, and Mark Suster.

It is actually because of all that great advice that it took so long for Kim and I to launch our 6-week program around entrepreneurship for couples. We kept pushing off the request by pointing people to those resources instead.

In our coaching practice we have learned a couple things:

  1. Data and research, connecting the head to the heart — the why to the how — is important.
  2. Learning new habits is more powerful than learning new information.
  3. Structure and accountability are magic sauce for entrepreneurs.

The place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet:

Our life’s work has prepared us for this. Kim is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist; I have built and sold (and failed at) startups over the past 10 years. We have lived through this ourselves, and we love sharing what we have learned. People keep asking for it. So, we felt it was time to step up.

The first cohort begins in November. If you want a structured process for strengthening your most important partnership, please join us: