Dear Enterprise Iain
Last year my partner lost her job and also her confidence. It was part of a company restructuring and came as a dreadful shock to her and her other colleagues. I thought she would start looking around for something similar as she is a lawyer – but instead, she took some time off to think about what she wanted to do (which I quite understood). A few months ago, she started her own business and this is causing me concern.
We can just about manage on my salary, but what really concerns me is how we manage the uncertainty. I just do not know if her idea will work. Truthfully, I am not even sure she should be doing something as rash as starting her own business. If she found another job, and that is possible where we live, we could have a good life. I’ve not really been part of the discussions about the whole thing and she seems to have internalised all her thinking. This makes me feel extremely excluded from something that will impact me too.
Her new business is nothing to do with the law but is about importing fabrics. I know she loves this whole area, but would it not be more sensible for her to start a law based business rather than something she knows nothing about? I feel it is damaging our relationship and that she is being selfish. Ultimately, I worry that starting a business will force us apart.
What should I do ?
There is so much in this that I do not know quite where to begin. So, let me start with what I say to everyone on my programmes; “no business has ever started with a plan; it started with a conversation.” Have you had that conversation? Have you sat down and discussed precisely why she seems to have taken such a radical change of direction? If neither of you have had that conversation; then you need to do it immediately. My post on why people really start a business will give you some pointers.
Now for some reassurance – this is not likely to be a random decision but something that has been lurking for a long time. Nick Hewer of ‘The Apprentice and Countdown’ fame started his business because he lost his job and decided never to be at the mercy of an employer ever again. You say your partner is being selfish – but actually she is being very sensible. Next, she has some great skills and they can easily be applied to starting and running her own business.
And a final bit of reassurance; the more you understand and get the big picture the easier it will be for both of you in the short (and the long) term. After all, you might soon be married to a millionaire!
It is always a shock for anyone whose other half decides to take, what seems to be, a dangerous leap into the unknown and start their own business. So, I have detailed some first steps for you both;
Your Action Plan
- Find a neutral, but comfortable, nice space where you can go out for a coffee and a chat,
- Get yourself into listening mode,
- Now start your enterprise conversation with three questions and do not interrupt the flow but listen,
- First question is; “why do you want to do this?” Second question is; “what do you wish to achieve out of starting this business?” Third question; “how are you going to get there?
- Let your partner talk and you listen. Set aside your worries and your desire to get answers to specific questions like; “how will we survive?”
- Get back to me and tell me how you got on!
I cannot really comment anymore until you have had that challenging conversation as it is the foundation of a good business and a trusting relationship.
PS: you can prepare by watching this wee film I made called “How to be Enterprising”.
PPS: Don’t forget you can learn more by reading my Accidental Entrepreneurs’ Handbook -useful stuff for your enterprise voyage.