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Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

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Kathy Marshack News

Latest Interview on “Entrepreneurial Couples” in The New York Times

Monday, December 02, 2013


Couples fall in love and many times find that they work well together in their marriage. So for them the next logical step is to begin working together in a business endeavor. You would think that couples working toward a common goal together would draw them closer. Yet many couples have found this creates more challenges than they expected.

This was illustrated in a recent article in The New York Times, Together, at Home and at Work. The author, Bruce Feiler, spent an intensive six months working closely with his wife and many of his friends reacted by asking when they would divorce. No doubt it was asked jokingly, however it underlines the commonly held misconception that couples can’t work together for any length of time without breaking up.

After giving example of famous couples who have successfully worked together and others who have failed, he quoted a number of experts on couple working together. I was happy to talk to him about my research that appears in my book, Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home. I shared my insight that couples who work together should never compromise unless there really is no other option. When you’re working with your spouse, you’re going to be tempted to compromise, because that’s what you do at home. But that’s not good for business. Too much sensitivity to others is the primary reason family companies grow slower than non-family firms.

He also discussed the need to set boundaries – what happens at work stays at work, what happens at home stays at home, not to be afraid of conflict, and know when it’s time to quit if it’s not working.

Successful couples combine the wife's and the husband's strengths. Take what you know about each other and use it to the fullest to take your business and your life to a new height. If you could use some personal guidance on how to resolve a conflict in your family business, please contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.

You can learn more about my book, Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home, and purchase a Kindle edition by clicking here.

What’s Wrong with Using Alcohol to Unwind After a Hard Day at the Office?

Thursday, September 26, 2013


empty beer bottlesEvery night at about 10:30 the fighting begins until the couple gets so tired they just fall asleep. This married couple works side-by-side running their successful business, but by the end of the workday, Joan frequently wants to stop off at a bar for a drink to "unwind". Jack, in a separate car goes home, relieves the babysitter, and starts dinner. When his wife gets home, she’s relaxed and cheerful, the alcohol having taken the edge off of the day's stress. She has two more glasses of wine at dinner. As the evening progresses, Jack busies himself with settling the children down for the evening. He doesn't mind doing most of the domestic chores because he understands that Joan doesn't have as much physical stamina as he.

When it’s time to give the children a goodnight kiss, he usually finds his wife napping on the couch. A couple more drinks later, Joan is no longer cheerful, but is very irritable. Dumbfounded, Jack can’t figure out why she’s mad at him. The accusations start flying, defensive walls shoot up and the arguing escalates to unreasonable and irrational proportions.

When does relaxing with a drink turn into a problem such as this?

A recent article on CNN’s website, Does Drinking Reduce My Stess?, quotes psychology professor Kenneth Sher, head of the University of Missouri’s Alcohol, Behavior and Health laboratory, "If you're looking forward to a drink to relieve your stress, on a regular basis, that is a warning sign. There's a very strong relationship between having thoughts like, 'Alcohol helps me relax' and 'Having a few drinks makes my trouble go away' and alcohol dependency problems."

If you are using alcohol to handle your stress, you're actually adding more stress to your system. As professor Sher stated, "When you're alcohol-dependent, you're chronically stressed at a baseline level." The higher your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, the more you need to drink to feel normal.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 18 million Americans abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. There are also several million more adults who engage in risky drinking that could lead to alcohol problems such as binge drinking and heavy drinking on a regular basis. How do you know if you have a problem with alcohol? Start by seeing how you answer the questions on my website – Alcohol Recovery.

If you experience drinking-related problems that impact your job, relationships, health, or the law, you should seek professional help. You may want to start by speaking to your doctor but there are a variety of resources available to you. Don’t delay. The effects of alcohol abuse can be extremely serious both to you and to others. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment please contact my Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA office.

Can Life Partners Be Good Business Partners?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


life partners becoming business partnersElise and Aaron have been in a happy marriage for more than ten years. During that time, each has built a successful, professional practice. However, unexpected problems began when they moved into the same office suite. Because they’re seeing each other every day at work and at home, conflicts are happening more often. The tools they used in the past to resolve problems aren’t working anymore.

This pictures a classic problem between entrepreneurial husbands and wives. Because their expectations are so radically different, husbands and wives become confused and frustrated with a partner that they love. They wonder why they ever asked the other to work with them. Sometimes they wonder even if they should remain married.

Search for a flexible system of relating that can change with the circumstances of your life, your lives together, and the changing marketplace of your business.

As more and more couples consider entrepreneurship, it becomes painfully apparent that they must prepare for the stress that business collaboration will cause their personal relationship. Much of this stress results from couples not discussing the ramifications of working together, not preparing for the blurred boundaries and turf that arise when a spouse becomes one’s business partner. However, clarifying the work/home expectations of each spouse/business partner should be the first thing that any entrepreneurial couple does, even before spending a cent on letterhead or signing the bank loan.

Whatever your style of couple entrepreneurship (a solo proprietorship, co-entrepreneurial couple or dual-entrepreneurs) there are few models to guide you in maintaining a loving marriage and a thriving business simultaneously. It is possible to design a model unique to the two of you that really works. Begin by talking with your spouse/partner about the goals each of you has for yourselves individually in life. Then go on to discuss marital goals, family goals and finally business goals. I have a more comprehensive outline of how to do this in my book, ENTREPRENEURIAL COUPLES: Making it Work at Work and at Home. It’s now available as a Kindle edition. Why don’t you check it out?

If you need some personal guidance on how to resolve a conflict in your family business, please contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.

Read more on my website – Couples in Business.

How Are Women Entrepreneurs Changing the World We Live In?

Monday, August 26, 2013


women entrepreneurs juggle home and workThe numbers of entrepreneurial women are increasing rapidly. Because women are socialized differently than men, they tend to organize and run their businesses differently, though they are no less a force on the American economy. This is changing the way America does business, AND the ways Americans do marriage and family. Let’s examine this in more depth… 

How entrepreneurial women balance home life and work life.

Career women struggle with societal values and their own internalized beliefs about what is required of the competent professional versus the good wife and mother. In order to ease the struggle to define themselves, women can opt for the traditional homemaker role and not work outside the home. However, work proves to be powerfully alluring to women. Therefore, career women have chosen other methods to resolve this struggle.

Most commonly, entrepreneurial women overwork. Instead of asking for changes from their husbands, changes in the workplace, or even changes in society, career women increase the time spent in nurturing relationships as they increase their commitment to work.

While men strive for autonomy first and learn about relationships second, women develop their sense of self first in connection with others. Therefore, a woman’s sense of worth is highly dependent on the consequences of relationships.

Entrepreneurial women use unconventional methods in business management.

Women entrepreneurs have a more relaxed style of management. This can be seen in how women entrepreneurs treat their employees, suppliers, and customers. They seem to prefer a more people-oriented style. According to Putnam's 1993 study of entrepreneurial women in Oregon, women entrepreneurs blend their personal and their business identities. They base their management of the business on relationships rather than on the development of business plans. Employees are considered friends. Family and spouse support are elements without which the woman would not consider an entrepreneurial venture. Rather than network within traditional business organizations, entrepreneurial women rely on strong personal relationships with their customers and vendors. These findings led Putnam to describe the business orientation of entrepreneurial women as a "web of interconnected relationships."

Since this is becoming the norm, why don’t you and your partner reevaluate the arrangements you’ve made, as well as the assumptions underlying those arrangements? Are there ways that you can reorganize your relationship, your business, and your personal life to create an arrangement that works better for both of you? If you’d like a third party to help sort it out, talking with a family therapist can help. Contact my office and set up an appointment in either my Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington office.

Whether to work with your spouse or not is just one of the challenges I address in my book - Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home. It’s now available on as a Kindle edition.

Keys to Problem Solving Effectively

Monday, June 17, 2013


Do you know someone who handles problems with ease? You might be attracted to their confident yet carefree attitude when it comes to conquering daily challenges. For some, this type of attitude and ability to problem solve comes naturally. For others, it can be a real struggle. If it doesn't come naturally, don't be discouraged. You can learn how to adjust and problem solve when challenges come your way. It's starts with your attitude. Once your attitude has been adjusted, then you can attack the problem.

Keys to Problem Solving:

Adjusting Your Attitude

1. Separate the negative feeling from the positive thoughts. Clearing your mind from negative thinking with give you a clean slate.

2. View the problem as an opportunity for growth.

3. Take responsibility and don't blame others. You can only control yourself.

4. Develop a strong desire to solve the problem.

Attacking the Problem

1. Identify the root cause of the problem.

2. Think, strategize, then act on the resolution.

Problem solving is a vital process to learn and implement. You may need assistance from a mental health care professional who can guide you through the steps specific to your needs. Contact my office for an appointment.

For more information, visit Personal Growth.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Focus on Your Physical Health

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Entrepreneurial life equals a busy life. Maintaining balance between the business and the family takes hard work and determination. When working with entrepreneurial couples, I encourage them to focus on five tools for accessing purposeful growth. These five areas are key to adapting to the ebb and flow of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. One of these tools is to get healthy.

Getting healthy is something we all know we should do, but can easily shove aside when the day gets busy. Why is taking care of our physical health so important? Science has proven that your eating and exercise habits profoundly affect your intellect and longevity. Isn't that what we all want? Take some time to assess your physical health and then develop a routine to correct whatever needs to be adjusted.

Here are a few simple things that could make a big impact on your health: 

  • Educate yourself about proper nutrition and physical fitness. 
  • Minimize your intake of sugar. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods. 
  • Go for a walk every day. During an evening stroll with your spouse, talk about anything but business. 
  • If you are more sports-minded, join a basketball team or tennis club. 
  • Do your own gardening and housework and build up a few unused muscles. As an added benefit, mindless work sometimes helps to drain the day's stresses and rejuvenate the creative juices for the next day. 

To learn more about my five tools for purposeful growth, pick up your own of Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home. Now available on Kindle!

Kindle Edition of “Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home”

Tuesday, May 07, 2013


Great news! My book - Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home is now available on as a Kindle edition on Amazon.com.

Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home examines the traps entrepreneurial couples can fall into and offers practical advice for dealing with them. For example, entrepreneurial couples with a full family life have greater potential for breakdown in communication than do other couples. They often fail to confront issues head-on, instead relying on compromise and other avoidance techniques to ward off conflict.

How does a couple balance intimacy with family life and meaningful work? You'll read how to assess strengths and weaknesses in each area of your life, improve communication with your partner, develop flexibility, and reexamine priorities, offering a new way to design and live a more balanced, integrated, and meaningful entrepreneurial life.

"This book is a must read for any couples who are in business together." W. Gibb Dyer Jr., Ph.D. Marriot School of Management, Brigham Young University

"We wish we had this information thirty years ago when we started our business." Tom and Linda Denchel, Co-Owners, Tom Denchel Ford Country

Download your Kindle edition today!

Working Within Your Strengths – Practice Giving

Thursday, May 02, 2013


Each and every individual is endowed with strengths and weaknesses. In order to find success and joy in life, you must learn to work with those strengths and weaknesses. How is this possible?  


The New York Times published an interesting article about a man who has mastered the art of working with his strengths and overcoming his weaknesses. His name is Adam Grant. He is a professor at Wharton and an organizational psychologist. Organization psychology takes the principles of psychology and apply them to the workplace. He works with companies to help them care for and motivate their employees and also works with the employees to get the most out of their work. Grant is approachable, helpful, and dedicated. He believes that the biggest source of motivation should be found in helping others. His book, "Give and Take" centers around this idea that satisfaction and productivity are linked to extreme giving. 

 

What struck me about Grant was reading about his childhood and adolescence. He was shy, socially awkward, and had a fear of public speaking. Grant challenged himself to overcome his social weaknesses and in the process learned that giving enabled him to do that. He learned to work within his strengths and weakness and now has joy and success. What a win-win situation! I recommend reading his story in the article - Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? 


To learn more about finding success and working with your strengths and weakness, visit Personal Growth

Encouraging Independence in a Family Firm

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


If you are an entrepreneurial couple with children, are you looking to grow into a family firm? If you want to include your children in the business, then there are a few vital things to keep in mind. There are two goals. One is to develop a thriving business. The second is to develop healthy independent adults who can contribute to society.


Most of us cherish the responsibility of parenting and are reluctant to give it up when the children leave home. In family firms where children may never leave the “nest” so to speak, the parenting role may continue indefinitely. How do you encourage independence for your child when they never really leave? There are a variety of strategies for ensuring that the second generation in family firms really grow up. The strategy that fits for you depends upon the business, the parents’ skills and personality and the skills and personalities of the children. 

 
The child needs an environment where they must prove themselves capable of leadership in the family business. For some this means leaving the business for awhile and working elsewhere. For others, it means getting an education before returning to the family business. Another child may benefit by working their way up from the "mailroom" with no preferential treatment from the parents. Finally, some children will be better family members and more capable adults if they never return to the family business.


You must keep in mind that the business can be successful without the child and the child can be successful without the business. That is, set your sights on accomplishing both goals independent of each other, and you may be surprised how they come together in the long run. For more information, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Families in Business

Minimize Stress by Creating a More Workable Schedule

Monday, March 11, 2013


Do you feel like there are just not enough hours in the day? It's a common complaint to hear someone say they need more time. And if you constantly feel anxiety and stress because you’re too busy there can be mental and physical health repercussions. By following a few simple time management tips, you might just be able to feel like you are accomplishing more during your day.


Here are a few simple strategies worth implementing:


1. Schedule your day thoughtfully. Write it out on paper or electronically. Distribute activities evenly throughout the day. If it starts to get too hectic, focus on the most important tasks and move the others to another day.


2. If you must reschedule, do it as soon as possible especially if it involves someone else. You want them to have the opportunity to shift around their schedule. This is just common courtesy.


3. Identify opportunities to multi-task. This requires creativity. Look for ways to merge tasks. Make phone calls while getting your car service...throw in a load of laundry and then run to the grocery store. 


4. Be flexible. Things come up, mistakes are made, and not everything goes as planned. When you are more prepared to go with the flow you won’t feel so out of control.


Creating more time in the day will give you a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. If these strategies are just not working and you continually feel overwhelmed, you may need to learn stress management techniques. A mental health care professional can assist you in this regard. Contact my office to set up an appointment. 


Click here to learn more about Managing Stress. 



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