An entrepreneurial confession
My journey to be a full-time entrepreneur was a rocky one. Many times over the last decade, I experimented with random businesses and jumped in and out of corporate life in search of the freedom and creativity I wanted.
As an independent woman, determined to be equal in every way to my husband Mark, we more or less earned the same and split all expenses down the middle.
However, I was miserable in corporate life and while Mark loved his job – I couldn’t wait to get out of mine, but it was stressful making no money from my business and we couldn’t afford to live on one salary.
So I sucked it up, but the frustration made me crabby. The first time I quit my job, I had no idea what business I should do, but I thought the freedom from my job would motivate me.
I ended up in crappy temp jobs like supervising exams to earn money. The pressure to succeed from scratch was killing my creativity and I really didn’t have a plan… or a savings cushion.
Instead of working furiously on my business, I found myself procrastinating out of sheer terror. I didn’t really know how to start or build a business. I knew I wanted out from my job.
The second time, I eased gently out of work, going part-time so I still had a wage coming in while I refined my business and honed my writing skills. I really recommend this rather than quitting your job before you have your business idea sorted. It’s too much pressure otherwise. Get a few clients under your belt, have a few months of disciplined work in your spare time and then go for it.
So when it was time to make the leap into full-time entrepreneurship, I sat down to have a serious money conversation with my husband.
This is how it went…
“Honey – from the 1st January, I’m doing my business full time. For the first six months, you’ll pay all the bills and you’ll give me an “allowance” each week to use however I want.
I’m doing this so I can build a business that works when we have kids in the future and so I can be happier in myself.
Are you cool with that?”
Yes, it kind of sounded like I told him, rather than asked him but I knew it was time – and I had to propose something drastic, otherwise life would have continued with me frustrated and waiting for the stars to align, or for someone else to give me permission.
I didn’t want to sit at home and feel poor. I wanted to be able to have a coffee with my friends occasionally without feeling guilty about it. I needed to feel abundant while I was building my business.
I needed the stability without the stress to make my business happen and so I asked for it.
The first month working for myself, I earned $225 from coaching. Hardly a full time wage, but it was THRILLING. I think I spent a big chunk of it on some celebratory champagne. It was proof that my business idea had legs and it spurred me on to work harder next month.
Next month, I doubled my income (WOW – $400!!) and kept on doubling it almost every month. YIPPEE. Pretty soon, I no longer needed my “allowance” but Mark still covered all of our bills for the first year. My money was extra money.
My income changed week to week. So he made sure we could pay our rent and I did things like buy us a new car and pay for my laser eye surgery in cash. Niiice.
I had to constantly enrol my husband in the vision of my business and WHY it required his support and investment at the beginning. I know this isn’t always easy when you’re starting out and earning no money.
It has to be a shared vision too, so constantly talk about WHY you’re doing it.
Is it so you can spend more time with your kids?
So your family can live overseas or go travelling together?
So your partner can one day quit their job too?
So you can move into your dream house?
To save money for your retirement in Costa Rica?
Talk about it CONSTANTLY – and especially if your partner helpfully suggests that you get a job! They need to be reminded all the time that you’re not just faffing around on Facebook, that it’s all leading to somewhere.
I find it helpful to talk about other entrepreneurs too. I always told Mark about the outrageous success of some of my business idols, or talked about how they were now travelling all around the world, or that the husband got to quit his job too. It’s all dream building.
Mark constantly talks about how proud he is now, and that early pocket money plus the non-financial support is paying off! Pretty awesome now because he reaps the benefits of having a wife with a multiple six figure business, his friends asked if we “won the lottery” and I’m paying for him to go to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014!
Working for myself was so crucially important to me but I felt incredibly guilty at first when Mark went off to work each day. However, I realise that he LOVED his job and wanted me to be happy.
I knew I wasn’t hanging out watching Oprah in my PJs but my work was so fun that I felt almost guilty that I could earn money doing what I loved… what a concept, right?
Boundaries were tough at first. I felt like I should be cleaning the house all the time or running errands because I was “at home”, but that’s a big mistake.
Because you can earn SO MUCH MORE by focusing on your business, and less on the guilt.
If this article sparked something for you, maybe you could sit down with your significant other and have a similar conversation. If you need to cut expenditure like premium TV channels, dinners out or holidays – trust me, it will be worth it.
Share your dream for your business and enrol your husband in his part. He will be much more open if you’ve got a track record to share; a few clients, a regular schedule of blogging and a good social media profile. Asking for the time to “figure it out” is a bit unfair, unless you have a good financial cushion.
It could take 6-12 months for you to replace your full-time income, so the expectation is that your husband will cover the bills for that whole time. Alternatively, you could use savings or downscale your life for a year. Again – it will be worth it.
The “pocket money” is crucial and it’s the part I missed the first time. It sucked having no money of my own and I felt incredibly guilty every time I spent a dollar on myself. The new arrangement meant that I could use my “allowance” any way I wanted, without guilt.
If you can’t afford that right now, negotiate cutting down your hours at work to take at least one day off while you build up your business income.
It’s unconventional and it will bring up a lot of fears and insecurities, but don’t wait for everything to be perfect.
Happy wife, happy life, right?
P.S I’d really appreciate if you shared this one around to your other entrepreneurial girlfriends. It’s important for us to be honest about $$ and success.