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Kathy Marshack News

How to Cope When a Narcissist Is Running the Family Business

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


If a narcissist is in charge of your family business it can be incredibly difficult to deal with, but there are things you can do to copeThere are narcissists everywhere and they fall on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum is the charismatic leader who, besides an inflated ego, isn’t that hard to manage. On the other end is an individual who genuinely has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This person is manipulative and easily angered, especially when they don’t get what they consider to be enough praise and attention.

It’s one thing to deal with a narcissistic boss at work. Theoretically, at the end of the day you can leave him behind and focus on your own life and family. Things get trickier when the narcissistic boss runs the family business. You can’t just leave that work and enjoy your family – they are your family.

So how can you cope when there is a narcissist running the family business?

Assess if the person truly is narcissistic. Narcissists have an egotistical preoccupation with themselves, their preferences, their needs, and their successes. But just because your family member in charge demands respect or sometimes enforces policies you don’t like, it doesn’t make them a narcissist. However, if they are completely absorbed in themselves, especially to the detriment of others, you are likely dealing with more than just high self-esteem.

Look for the root of the problem. Did this person have to overcome extreme trauma or hardship to get where they are today? Often a “survivor entrepreneur” will manifest narcissistic tendencies born from their circumstances. They had to depend on themselves to such an extreme degree to overcome poverty, lack of parents, illness, or disabilities that they have trouble giving other people a role in their success. Sometimes this quality is an extreme reaction to feelings of vulnerability. If you look honestly at a person, you will likely be able to find something that contributed to the development of their me-first attitude.

See the good. The traits that make a narcissist difficult to handle are likely the same traits that drove their success. Appreciate the good things they do and the ways in which they are making the company succeed. If you can re-categorize their traits as positive instead of negative it will go a long way toward making them easier to deal with.

Communicate openly and honestly. I say this regularly, but it bears repeating. When you work with your family, unresolved emotions can complicate the business relationship. Families in business together need to take the time to communicate regularly, openly, and honestly. You may need to express how their actions make you feel. Even if they don’t respond well, it will help you feel better to take a stand for yourself. (If you’re too afraid to speak up, then it’s time to get professional help from a therapist.)

Focus on yourself. You can be happy if you keep your focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. You can’t make your family member change their personality. But you can continue to work on yourself. It’s not easy when it comes to a family business but remember that sometimes the healthiest choice is to walk away. You can work elsewhere!


Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder has severe Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). This is characterized by an “all-about-me” attitude. It manifests as thoughtless, self-absorbed behavior, and rends contemptible harm. My upcoming book delves into Empathy Disorders and what you can do to protect yourself from people who can’t or won’t demonstrate empathy. To stay up-to-date on it’s release sign-up for my newsletter.
 
If you are dealing with a person with extreme narcissism, you would greatly benefit from therapy, as an individual or as a family group. Please contact my office. I have an office in Jantzen Beach and offer online therapy if that’s a better option.

How to Foster Stewardship in Your Family Business

Monday, October 16, 2017


Family businesses, like the families who run them, go through various stages of development, ultimately reaching the “stewardship” stage.Why did you start your family business? Or why did you choose to carry on the legacy of generations before you? Have your goals and motivations changed and developed over the years?

Your business, like the family that runs it, also goes through different stages of development. There are three stages of growth for a family business:

  1. Entrepreneurship. This is the stage of early innovations, niche formation, and creativity. Long hours, endless enthusiasm, and determination make for a dynamic environment.
  2. Ownership. There is a need for stability and security to nurture the family. During this stage, the family business structure becomes more formalized and institutionalized.
  3. Stewardship. This offers the family business the opportunity to give something back to the community. At this point, employees and family members, especially those in line to take over the business, feel an intrinsic commitment to the success and reputation of the firm. Stewards of the family business nurture it so it endures and grows, and know enough about the company and its strategies to make good decisions.

Entrepreneurs who start a family business want and expect their business to reach the ownership stage. It’s a sign of success and accomplishment. But as the business grows, it’s beneficial to look forward and reach for the stewardship stage as well. Why?

Family-owned firms are influential in the community. How the family manages its wealth and influence can have a major impact on society. You must go beyond simple economic theory to understand this influence. The values of the family and the culture of the family business can have a tremendous social impact, not only on the quality of commerce but on the community as a whole.

Also, when family members and employees are motivated from the inside out to see the business succeed, they are happier workers. Happier workers are more productive workers. It benefits the business to employ persons who are invested in the company personally.

A sense of stewardship is also necessary when planning for succession in the family business. Succession planning typically focusing on selecting good management, but the development of strong owners is critical. Without a culture of stewardship, good management can be sabotaged by entitled owners. Entitlement leads to passiveness about how the company is run and managed and an unwillingness to reinvest in new initiatives.

Through successful stewardship, your family business can build a strong legacy. So how can you foster stewardship in your family business? Here are some ideas:

  • Set the course. Make sure everyone involved knows their purpose and their part in the business achieving success.

  • Create a collectivist culture. Ideas are welcome. Teamwork is a must. No one is in this alone. Encourage constructive criticism.

  • Insist on clarity, transparency, and consistency. Model these qualities for your family and employees.

  • Focus on both short-term and long-term success. Show the need for consistency between short-term actions and long-term goals.

  • Build infrastructure for the future. This can include employee retirement plans or bonuses.

  • Give back to the community. Some family businesses start a charitable foundation. Others donate time or resources to help. Look for ways to give back.

Just as with legal and financial decisions, the emotional or psychological aspects of planning for the future of your business often requires the assistance of a professional. I have worked with many families in business as they grow and move into the stewardship stage. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach or take advantage of online therapy.

Infidelity in the Family Business? How Therapy Can Help

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


With infidelity, therapy is key to finding the root of the problem fixing it from the inside out to mitigate the effects on the family and business.Infidelity - it is a fairly common problem that doesn’t get addressed often enough. Of course, what goes on in a marriage should be private and a couple dealing with infidelity should be given space and time to work out their next steps. But it is not usually that simple.
 
Infidelity can cause aftershocks that affect the lives of many people, not just the marital partners. When a family is part of a larger system such as a family business, the people affected include not only family members, but also employees, vendors, customers, and others who play a role in the family/business system.
 
As much as those engaging in infidelity may think they are being discreet, eventually those around them find out. Even if they can’t quite put their finger on exactly what’s going on, they will pick up on the deception and secrecy. Deception makes people uncomfortable, and uncomfortable people make mistakes. This leads to more stress in the workplace, and the problem will spill out to customers, vendors, and clients.
 
Many people see infidelity as a moral issue, but it may be more useful to see it as a problem of practicality. Infidelity destroys trust not just between marital partners but among those who know the people involved. This type of behavior can be very harmful to your business in terms of respect and market share. It can also influence your employees. Deception in the upper levels of the company could foster that quality in others.
 
The key to mitigating the effects of infidelity on the family and business, and to preventing it from happening again, is communication. Among families in business, because of the need to be supportive, nurturing and protective of the family, sexual improprieties are often covered up. However, avoiding conflict and ignoring infidelity can lead to serious problems. Issues can fester, and progress isn’t made. In order to get to the bottom of conflicts and move forward, you must confront the issue.
 
Communication is vital to understanding why the infidelity happened in the first place. The first step would be for the couple dealing with infidelity to speak with a professional psychologist. Infidelity is a symptom of a deeper problem that needs attending to. The really difficult part is figuring out what the symptom is telling you. The last thing the person engaging in infidelity wants to do is discuss their misbehavior, but talking about what happened and why, is exactly what is needed to get to the root of the problem.
 
Eventually other members of the family business may need counseling as well. The natural tendency of all families, whether they are in business together or not, is to cover up problems with the idea that doing so will keep the family safe. A professional psychologist can guide the family toward solutions that work instead of ignoring or hiding the problem. Your family can benefit from the objective guidance of a professional trained in helping families heal and rebuilding trust in the workplace.
 
If this comes up in your business, the minute you get wind of the symptom of infidelity, confront the problem immediately. Don't cast blame, but talk openly and honestly about what the real problem is. If the person is a family member, this is easier said than done! If you need advice on how to handle infidelity in the workplace, please know I have worked with many families, including families in business, on this very issue.
 
Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to schedule an appointment, or try online therapy if that is best for you.

Struggling as an Entrepreneurial Couple? The Key to Lasting Change May Surprise You

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Woman holding signRunning a business with your spouse can be very rewarding. However, entrepreneurs deal with a unique set of challenges, and entrepreneurial couples experience these same challenges two-fold! Add to this the complications that come with marriage, owning a home, and raising a family and it’s no wonder entrepreneurial couples can feel at times that the arrangement isn’t working.
 
When something in your business and/or marital life isn’t working, what is your first inclination?

 
The most common response to life’s struggles involves a mental process where we solely consider external or technical reasons for the problem. When you encounter an obstacle in your business or your marriage is your first reaction to find an outside source for the problem?
 
Rather than being quick to look to external forces that are holding you back, could you look internally?
 
When working through obstacles in life, I encourage you to question every aspect of your approach to your business and relationship, including your methods, biases, and assumptions. This kind of rigorous self-examination requires that you honestly challenge your beliefs and goals, and work up the courage to act and make a change.
 
I’ve noticed that when people face a crisis or even just an ordinary problem, they are tempted to try a somewhat simplistic change. They change spouses, buy a new house, and so on. These simple changes are supposed to make them feel better. And sometimes they do for a little while. But in the long run, the new spouse presents problems remarkably similar to those of the previous spouse and the new house is still not big enough.
 
Rather than waste your time with pointless changes, put in the time and hard work to change yourself from the inside out.
 
Look deep and determine your personal definition of real success. What exactly are you looking for in life, business, and your marriage? Do your goals for your business truly align with your personal definition of success? Honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Everybody has both! Realizing who you really are will help you determine the best path to take and changes to make.
 
But what if you are dealing with a spouse who is dealing with a problem like addiction? Aren’t they the ones that need to change?
 
The love you have for them may move you try to fix them, change their attitude and behavior. Understand that their life is not for you to manage. You can’t change them. For real change to come, they have to decide for themselves to get help and move forward.
 
I worked with a woman who was married to and ran a business with an addict. She spent years trying to change him, to no avail. Eventually she realized that the only person she could change was herself. She courageously tackled the task of working on herself and cleaning up her own bad habits, misunderstandings and superstitions. She began to recognize many dormant strengths that had been overshadowed by her need to protect and control her husband. This led her to explore new directions in life and business that better fit her personality.
 
When you look inside yourself, you take back your power.
 
You restore your independence as a person and as a successful entrepreneur. By focusing on changing yourself first, you expand your consciousness and gain self-awareness. You become more skilled at resolving immediate problems, correcting past mistakes, and moving ahead with the new opportunities. This approach also enables you to encourage the development of your spouse, partner, employees, and children, which benefits you, too.
 
Changing from a problem-solving mode into self-awareness mode may be difficult, especially for busy entrepreneurial couples. I’m here to help. Please feel free to contact my office in Jantzen Beach to schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, consider remote education for entrepreneurial couples.

How to Change the Conversation at Work to be More Positive

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Two coworkers looking at a computer, shocked at the newsWe live in an increasingly negative world. Many people have told me they’ve stopped watching the news because they’re tired of all the negativity. Yet there are others who seem to thrive on the negative. It’s like they can’t wait for Monday to rehash all the bad news at work or to complain about their life to anyone who will listen. This negative outlook can be contagious and before you know it the entire workplace is infected!
 
The good news is that you can change the conversation at work to be more positive. And it’s worth the effort!
 
Positive thinking is linked to better health. In addition to better physical and emotional health, positivity can also impact your workplace for the better, whether you are a business owner or an employee. Optimism helps you to be solution-oriented. When you encounter a bump in the road, you don’t give up. Instead, you continue to search for a way around the problem, convinced that there is a solution.
 
No matter what your role in the business is, positivity in the workplace begins with how you choose to communicate. How can you cultivate a more positive way of speaking in the workplace? Take a look at these ideas:

  • Be aware of the way you describe certain situations and make a conscious effort to turn those comments into something more optimistic.

  • Focus less on the problem, and more on the solution. If no solution is obvious, focus on the fact there must be a solution somewhere and that you and your team are capable of discovering it.

  • Discuss the smaller, more manageable steps, you can take to solve a problem. What can you do right now, in this moment? It helps you and those you work with focus on what they can accomplish without getting overwhelmed.

  • Cultivate a more positive, meaningful start to conversations. If someone asks how you are, don’t lead with the negative (i.e. “I’m tired/hungry/anxious”). Tell them something good that has happened.

  • Show gratitude. Discuss things you are thankful for, big and small.

Interestingly, as you make the effort to make your conversations at work more positive, others will follow. We are often told to not bother trying to change people because it can’t be done. But that is far from the truth! We are changing people every day just as other people are changing us. As humans, we are constantly influenced by those around us. So don't get discouraged and think that your contribution of positivity isn't going to change the dynamics at work. You are more influential than you may think! Take the lead in conversations and guide them into positive territory.

 

Most of us have heard of how one small act of kindness can trigger a chain reaction. A similar thing happens when you choose to inject positivity into your daily conversations. It also triggers a chain reaction. You lead a conversation in a positive direction and the person you spoke with will be left with a positive feeling. It may take awhile and you won’t have 100% success, but if you stick with it you’ll see a shift towards more positive conversations in your workplace. Don’t give up!
 
Each day you experience hundreds of moments where you can choose to react in a positive way. It isn’t a matter of ignoring the negative in your life or work. It comes down to making a choice to not get stuck on the negative. Focus on the good in your life, and help those around you to choose to appreciate the good as well!
 
Are you convinced that you can change the dynamic in your workplace by being positive? Sometimes it can be challenging to be positive if you are dealing with a lot of internal or external stress. If you could use some help, please contact my office to set up an appointment.  I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we can meet in person or I offer online therapy if that’s a better fit for you.

Women Entrepreneurs – Are You Afraid of Tooting Your Own Horn?

Monday, July 24, 2017


Business woman at meetingLook! The incredible invisible woman! She runs a successful company, has great friends and a loving family, but no one really hears about it. In spite of her accomplishments, she fades into the background by never taking true ownership of all the amazing things she has done.
 
Does that sound familiar? Do you find yourself deflecting attention, downplaying your accomplishments, or not taking full credit for your ideas?
 
I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. I was speaking with a married couple who ran a business together. I asked them to tell me their official business titles. Although the wife had started the business five years before the husband joined her, she told me she was a “Sales Associate.” The husband’s answer? He called himself the “Vice President.”
 
There was nothing wrong with what the wife said. She was an associate in the business, and she sold the product. But she did not own the fact that she ran a successful business.
 
Why don’t women give themselves the credit they deserve? A number of factors contribute to this tendency. From childhood girls are taught to work together, to build a community, to support others, all without being taught how to communicate about their accomplishments. Boys are usually encouraged to talk about personal goals and achievements, but that lesson often gets forgotten when raising girls.
 
Women also tend to fear being known as “not nice.” They avoid saying or doing things that could be viewed as aggressive or selfish. Unfortunately, when a woman touts her successes, it is often seen as bragging. So they put their ideas and victories in the background, not talking about them or even acknowledging them. When they do talk about their accomplishments, it is generally framed as a group achievement rather than an individual achievement.
 
Why should you learn to more effectively communicate about your accomplishments? Here are four reasons:

  1. Your business will grow. Leveraging your success and accomplishments is one of the best ways to continue to build your business. 
  2. Your relationships with your employees will improve. Resentment develops when you feel you are not being recognized. This resentment does not go unnoticed, and can lead to strained relationships with those around you. When you allow yourself to be recognized and appreciated, your relationships will benefi
  3. Other people will benefit. Did you ever think that concealing your true self deprives other people of your talents? It does! When others see who you really are and what you have and can accomplish, they can truly appreciate you and benefit by your talents. It also gives people a chance to rejoice with you in your success. Let others be happy for you – it will bring them joy, too.
  4. You invest in yourself. By expressing your accomplishments, you remind yourself and others of your worth. You will surround yourself with people who appreciate you instead of people who need you to appreciate them. This creates an energizing flow between people, just as wealth invested creates more wealth.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the amazing things you have done. The world needs what you have to offer, so learn to communicate about you effectively! If you could use some help getting past social barriers to promote yourself in the best way possible, please contact my office. I have an office in Jantzen Beach, and I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Entrepreneurs – Nurture Your Creativity Even If You’re Not “Creative”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Nurture Your Creativity Even If You’re Not “Creative” How would you describe the creative process? Difficult, isn’t it? The very concept of creativity, coming up with something innovative and original, makes something as structured as a “process” sound counterintuitive.

Perhaps you don't feel like you’re very creative. Maybe you see yourself as the practical problem-solver, the roll-up-your-sleeves kind of person…

The thing is you don’t have to be an eccentric or an artist in order to be creative. And as a business owner, it would be a mistake to assign the task of creativity to others because of a perceived lack of creativity on your part. What if all it took was hard work, determination and time?

You are probably more creative than you give yourself credit. Creativity is at the foundation of entrepreneurship. The ability of an entrepreneur to generate new ideas that have practical, real-world application is the foundation of countless business start-ups.

Being a creative entrepreneur goes beyond just creating new products and ideas. Even in you work in a family business that has been providing the same products or services for generations, you still need to be creative. A person with a flexible, creative mind is also going to be adept at improving current products, services and systems. You can be on the lookout for new and different ways to improve your business. Perhaps your contribution to the family business could be finding a new niche or effectively utilizing an existing one.

Creativity when linked with entrepreneurship requires more than just an interesting idea. There are a lot of good ideas out there, but if you want to build a successful business you need a process that will allow you to support and properly execute that idea.

How can you enhance your creative process?

Schedule time to be creative. Instead of waiting for creativity to magically appear, choose a problem, challenge, or goal you want to tackle and give yourself a deadline. Then schedule time in your calendar to work on it, using the following suggestions.

Identify and learn about your subject.
Understanding your topic will contribute to your ability to think creatively about it. Thinking creatively involves looking at your “problem” from multiple angles, considering all of the ins and outs. Be willing to look at the situation without previous bias. Also, look for examples of success that you can learn from, whether in your industry or outside of it.

Think from a new perspective. This is the step in which your new idea starts to take shape. Be willing to go out of your comfort zone during this step. Find a new approach to your task without limiting yourself. Allow yourself free reign of thought, don’t “edit” yourself, since that only hinders your creative process. At this point there are no stupid ideas!

Let your subconscious mind go to work.
Now begins the “mulling” stage. Let your idea sit for a while, allowing your subconscious to continue working on the problem. Surprisingly, this is often one of the most important stages of a creative process. You will often return with a fresh perspective, ready to continue.

Problem solve.
During this stage you are working on making your idea practical. It’s once again important that you don’t limit yourself, but this is the stage where you start streamlining your idea into a more workable package. This is where you start thinking about your idea as something that could actually be implemented.

Think critically. Now is the time to edit yourself. Look at the problem and your solution, and assess its viability. Ask someone whose opinion you value to try to find holes in your solution. Because you may be emotionally attached to idea, it can be difficult to critique it on your own without bias.

Critical thinking is the end of your creative process, now it is time to implement any viable ideas left. Once again you don’t have to be especially “creative” to implement this process, all you have to do is show up.

What if you have a tangled problem and the more you think about it the more stuck you feel? You might benefit from a session with a therapist. As surprising as it may sound, I’ve had many business epiphanies occur in my office over the years. Please contact my office to set up an appointment. I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we can meet in person or I offer online therapy for those residing in Oregon or Washington states if that is more convenient for you.

Find Time to Be Kind – You and Your Business Will Benefit

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Volunteers looking through boxesShowing kindness to others directly affects your own happiness. You’ve probably already noticed that when you help other people, it makes you feel good. But do you know why?

 
By focusing on other people and working to make their life better, you think less about your own problems and worries. This keeps you from dwelling on the negative and moves you to focus on the positive.
 
This is good news for your health! Positive thinking can boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, and lessen your risk of heart disease. Since there is an inseparable connection between the mind and the body, feelings of joy, sadness, anger, hope, and apathy directly affect your body. So, by replacing negativity and pessimism in favor of kindness and joy, you can improve your physical health.
 
Showing kindness is also a great way to create and enhance social connections with people, which can foster a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Think about a time that you volunteered in your community or took a moment to say or do something for a stranger. Didn't you feel more connected with others and possibly made new friends in the process?
 
One small act of kindness can trigger a chain reaction. A small thing to you can mean everything to another person. It can move them to do something nice for someone else. When you show kindness to others, they are more likely to show kindness in return. Your one act can spread out into the community and come back full circle to where you are on the receiving end of someone else’s kindness.
 
But how can kindness benefit your business?
 
You might think that entrepreneurs need to be tough and aggressive but actually kindness does help you run a successful business. For one thing, as we already discussed acts of kindness fosters optimism. What business owner doesn’t need an abundance of that quality?
 
You’ll notice that showing kindness keeps you in touch with your community. Involving yourself and your employees in community events or fundraisers promotes a team spirit. It also helps your company’s reputation as a business that cares, which helps you stand out in a competitive marketplace.
 
The advent of social media is a great tool to offer memorable customer service. People are quick to lament a faulty product or terrible service on social media. When that happens, without being asked, reach out with a friendly note, send a free product, offer a sincere apology… Basically do something kind. These are interactions that people will remember and tell their friends about.
 
Kindness in the workplace also contributes to employee retention. Good, loyal employees can be hard to find. Once you find them, you have to work to keep them. A happy workforce is a good workforce. So encourage laughter, teamwork, and bonding. Express appreciation and offer commendation. Small acts of kindness, like buying lunch for the office, can make a big difference.
 
Are you convinced that being kind is worth the effort? Sometimes it can be challenging to be kind if you’re dealing with a lot of internal or external stress. If you could use some help please contact my office to set up an appointment.  I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we can meet in person or I offer online therapy if that’s a better fit for you.

Entrepreneurs - Stop Complaining! Try Honest Self-Assessment Instead

Monday, May 15, 2017


Stop complaining signStop complaining? But it feels so good to complain! It helps you get things off your chest, feel heard, and start working towards a solution. Your business moves forward when you identify problems and communicate about them. Or does it?
 
The reality is that complaining has become a knee-jerk reaction to anything we don’t like. We complain about the weeds in our yard, our pants that have become too tight (as we sit there eating a cookie), the high cost of living, and the trials of running a business. As a society, we have become quick to complain and slow to change.
 
There are times, of course, when “complaining” or notifying someone of a problem or injustice is a good thing. Discussing a problem with a team of people can help solve it faster and more effectively. However, most of the time our expressions of pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment are simply reactions to a perceived issue.
 
What’s wrong with complaining? Simply put: it doesn’t do anybody any good. It won’t solve your problem. It won’t make you feel better. It will waste your time, time you could have spent working on a solution. Complaining also fosters a negative attitude in you and the person listening to you.
 
Another problem with complaining is it relegates you to perpetually being a victim. The more you complain, the less you feel in control of your life and your business. As an entrepreneur, you have worked hard to be in control and lead your company to greatness. Complaining takes away some of that power you have.
 
The most common response to obstacles involves a mental process where we solely consider possible external or technical reasons for the problem. What kind of obstacles do you encounter in your business path? Is your first reaction to find an outside source for the problem? The product isn’t good enough. My competition has better advertising. The economy isn’t doing well. The more you think like that, the less control and power you have over your problems.
 
Let’s look at these problems a different way. Rather than being quick to look to eternal forces that are holding you back, could you look internally? When working through obstacles in life, I encourage you to question every aspect of your approach to your business, including your methods, biases, and assumptions. This kind of rigorous self-examination requires that you honestly challenge your beliefs and goals, and work up the courage to act and make a change.
 
Look deep and determine your personal definition of real success. What exactly are you looking for in life? Do your goals for your business truly align with your definition of success? Honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Everybody has both! Realizing who you really are will help you determine the best path to take and changes to make. And in the end, look for the positive. Don’t let challenges stop you. Instead, view them as incentives to change and move in a positive, new direction.
 
When you look inside yourself you take back your power as a successful entrepreneur. Other people and things did not make your business great – you did! So only you can take back your life by taking a deep look at yourself instead of complaining.
 
I encourage you to look at and complete the Self-Assessment Exercises in my book Entrepreneurial Couples – Making It Work at Work and at Home. They will help you dig deep on a number of topics from your working relationship with your spouse, to your views on family and money, to how you view yourself. These are great tools to begin your journey inside yourself.
 
Sometimes we need the help of a trained professional to get past barriers and assess ourselves honestly. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Money Tips for Couples Starting Their Own Business

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Couple sitting at desk looking at billsYou’ve got a new business idea? Great! Your romantic partner is on board to work with you? Even better! As you begin to plan the logistics of how this new enterprise with your partner will grow and thrive, it goes without saying that planning financial matters will be on the top of your list of things to do.

These plans do not refer solely to financial matters directly related to the business, such as start-up costs, fees, and overhead. When you’re working together as a couple, money issues are also part of your personal lives. One partner may keep their full-time job while the other devotes their time to the new business. Maybe you will both quit working and jump in with both feet. How will this entrepreneurial venture affect your children?

As a couple, you need to determine ahead of time, how you will manage your money, or lack thereof, during this transition.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many entrepreneurial couples, and there is a pattern among those who have long-term, happy relationships interwoven with a prosperous business life. Here are some money tips for couples starting their own business I have seen work time and again:

  • Make a plan for personal expenses. Know what you have, and what you can afford. Growth usually requires a certain amount of risk, but don’t go into your new situation blind. Create a solid plan for how you will continue to pay for your personal expenses as the business grows.


  • Prepare to live on a single income. It may not come to this. Your business could be profitable immediately. Or you may both continue working full-time until the business reaches a point where you feel comfortable with one or both of you quitting your full-time job. But be prepared for the idea that you may very likely have to survive on less for a time. Make sure that no matter where your money is coming from, you both feel like equal partners. Regular communication is vital to maintaining that feeling of partnership.

  • Designate responsibilities. Don’t get lost in the chaos that comes with launching a new business. Keep in touch with each other and make sure everyone feels valued. For efficiency’s sake, you may divide up duties along the lines of who is most capable or available. At the end of the day, though, you are just as responsible as your partner for the success of your goal. If one spouse is less involved in the business, show gratitude for the work they do and sacrifices they make in other ways.


  • Give 100%. Each partner should consider themselves 100% responsible for the quality of their individual life as well as their joint venture (i.e. parenting, household duties, managing & promoting a business). You should put your whole self, talents, intuitions, and muscle into the marriage and business partnership. When both partners do this, it makes them each equally responsible for the outcome.


  • Communicate. There is no substitute for regular, meaningful communication. What does this have to do with money? Your business will suffer if you are not working together as partners in life and business. Take time out from the stress of entrepreneurship to reconnect and keep love as your top priority. This means talking about things unrelated to your business. Talk about the things that feed your soul, that concern you, that bring you joy.


  • Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Starting and running a successful business requires an inordinate amount of time and energy. It could result in you losing touch with those most important to you. It is also crucial to care for your personal health and well-being. Your business can’t run without you, and your partner doesn’t want to do it without you. Set aside time to be active in a way that energizes and invigorates you, and schedule time with your family and friends. That time spent recharging your batteries can be just what you need to persevere and achieve even greater things.


Talking about money is a top stressor for many couples. When you add in the stress of starting a new business don’t be surprised if things get a bit rocky in your relationship. I’ve helped many couples make a success of their marriage and their business. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment. If you live elsewhere, take a look at remote education services specifically for entrepreneurial couples.


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