Once you’ve been married for a while and spoken with enough other couples, you realize you all fight about the same things. The most common of which is money.
A few years ago, I thought I was going to be laid off from my teaching position and, while my wife and I were on the same page regarding my future, I noticed we began to get into disagreements much more often.
In business and in life, I always advise men to find coaching and mentoring where they can so I asked somebody who knew more than me, my pastor (who is also a good friend).
Luckily, he set me straight. He explained to me that above all else, my wife (like most wives) has a very strong need to feel safe. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, but also financially.
When my wife began to feel unsafe, her unease about our financial situation spilled over into all of the other areas of our life.
The reason I’m telling you this because it applies directly to starting a business online and getting your spouse’s support in doing so.
Why You Need Her Support
I’m not going to sugarcoat this: starting an online business is going to take a lot of hours away from your family.
And even if you’re like me and you wake up at 3am so that it doesn’t take time away from them, you’re going to be more tired than usual and they’ll still get less of you.
When I started my business, I had my wife’s support and she drank the entrepreneurial Kool-Aid along with me. We dreamed of six-figure launches as well as time and location freedom.
But when that doesn’t happen in the first year, her support may fade.
This is the situation a lot of guys find themselves in: they’re trying to start or grow their business but they’re finding less and less support from their spouse and they don’t know what they can do to get that support.
How to Gain Her Support
You have three options to provide her with the safety that I mentioned earlier:
- Quit your job and go full time into entrepreneurship and hope that it pays the bills
- Quit running your business and put all of your efforts toward furthering your career (I know this isn’t ‘really’ an option, but it is to her so it matters)
- Or continue working full time and spend every moment you can working on your business.
If you’re like me, the only option is number three. But that’s likely what you’ve been doing and it isn’t working. Here’s three things you can do in your business, while working full time, that will drastically increase the support you get (and need) from your wife.
Build a Runway
Always have some backup money.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from Mike Michalowicz (link) was to pay myself first in my business. I’d never taken a salary because I felt like I couldn’t afford it.
I was wrong.
When I started to pay myself first, I had less money to work with in my business and I had to start cutting off extra services that I didn’t truly need.
There’s always another tool out there you need, an app to buy, or course to pay for. Believe me. They’ll all still be there if you don’t buy them today.
Tip: Remember that plans don’t use the whole runway. Save way more than you need.
I used that money to build a bit of a runway so if anything went wrong in our life, or I left a job (which I did recently), we’d have money in the bank to take care of things.
It took me years to build up a bit of a runway, but I found that having that money set aside for my family really helped my wife see what I was trying to build for our family. It also helped that part of the runway was built from money that I made online, including my very first dollar.
Make Your First Dollar
I still remember the first dollar that I ever made online.
I was running a small Brazilian Jiu Jitsu website for the local scene here in Chicago and a few weeks ago, I’d set up a few affiliate links on it. I’d learned from Pat Flynn that you could make some money that way so I thought, why not?
I logged into my affiliate account to see if I’d made any money and expected to see what I’d seen for the past three weeks: nothing.
Expecting to load the website to nothing but crickets, I was blown away to see that in the past 24 hours, I’d made $17.
Yup. A whole seventeen dollars.
I was doing affiliate marketing on one of my first websites and I made $17 in the last 24 hours.
In a dead sprint, I ran into the bathroom where my wife was getting ready for work, almost knocking her over.
I think she was just as excited as I was that this could actually work. You could make money on the internet without being a total scam artist.
Showing her that affiliate money, and the money that followed as the site grew, was a monumental step to getting her support.
Make a Plan
It’s easy to take account of where you are now, and it’s easy to see where you want to be in the end.
The only thing that stands between where you are now and where you want to be is a large amount of work.
The problem is that articulating that to your wife isn’t as easy as I just made it sound.
If your wife is like mine, she’ll want some sort of plan. A plan that explains that all of the emotional energy she’s putting into the business and supporting you is going to be worth it. That the time you’re spending away from your kids now (so you can spend more time later) is going to amount to something. There’s two solid ways that I recommend you start that have served me well:
1. Find your “Spaghetti Number”
What’s the minimum amount of money you and your family can survive on? If you were eating only the cheapest of foods, no vacations, no extra fun, etc. what would you need to make it day to day?
Then, work backwards in your business and figure out how much work you’ll have to do to get there. How many products would you need to sell? How much web design would you need to do? How many coaching clients would you need to have?
When I figured out my “spaghetti number,” I discovered that I’d need to sell roughly 30 jiu jitsu gis per month to reach it. That’s about one per day and that’s totally doable in the long run.
And now, for my wife and I, it was now a question of “How do we sell one gi per day? Who can Brendan call/email/skype/etc. to sell one gi today?”
And then I went bigger: If I could do a wholesale deal one month and sell 50 gis, I could take the rest of the month off from selling and focus on bigger picture items in my business.
2. Create a Six Month Plan
Now that you’ve found your spaghetti number, being able to show your spouse a general (the more specific, the better) outline of how you’re going to get there is crucial. How?
- Outline it month by month – I’ve found it most effective to outline it month by month. Make sure the tasks flow from one into the next.
- Remember you have limited bandwidth – I recommend no more than 3-4 big tasks per month. If you’re going to add a new task a few months down the road, remember that you’ll have to take one off the list. Having a massive list of tasks looming ahead is a recipe for burnout for both you and your family.
Recently, I had a chance to sit down with my friends Shane and Jocelyn Sams of Flipped Lifestyle. They gave even more great tips for bringing your spouse on board.
Together, We’re Stronger
Whether your spouse is on board with your business or not, I want to hear from you!
Click here and join our fledgling community of dads who are trying to build online businesses they can be proud of. I’ll be there answering all of your questions too!
Great Article Brendan! My wife gives me a hard enough time about the amount of time I spend on my day job let alone my side businesses. She knows that hosting a podcast and writing a book has been long term dreams of mine and I think she is proud of me for following my dreams, but I’m really careful not to let it get in the way of family time. I only work on my project(s) during the day when I can break away from the day job or at night when everyone is asleep. I still haven’t made a dollar online yet, but did receive some free wine from a podcast guest promoting his winery and she was happy to see that! If I take any of my projects seriously I know we will have to have a sit down and I will have to sell her the dream!~
Dustin, thanks so much for your comment! I’m so glad to have you as part of the H&H community. It’s amazing how those little things build momentum at first. Now it takes a lot more to make my wife bat an eye (me too!) so make sure to really savor those early wins. They’re priceless.