[tweetmeme]Starting a business, in some instances, can be bad for families and relationships.
When a family member (say a husband) starts a business, the whole family can be affected — and not always for the better. Starting a business is an emotionally consuming, time-hogging and stressful experience that it can significantly alter the behavior of the entrepreneur and the way he relates to his family.
The problem is exacerbated if the other family members are unsupportive or resentful of the business. The family may also adopt a cavalier attitude toward the business that the entrepreneur feels that his family does not give him the respect, support and trust that he needs.
These feelings of hurt from both sides often result in frayed relationships, even broken marriages. Here are some risks starting a business can bring to families and marriages:
1. Lack of time to connect and interact with other family members.
Starting a business entails a lot of work, and requires time and dedication. The entrepreneur may work as much as 75 or 80 hours per week on his new business. If he used to work only 40 hours a week as an employee, that means the time spent on other things, including family, is sacrificed and now eaten up by the business. There’s little time left for other activities such as bonding times with the family and other relationships. Friday movie nights become ancient history; and baseball games with the kids are now a hit-and-miss affair.
As a result, the family is required to make sacrifices and endure an absent husband, spouse or father whose sole focus and major preoccupation has become the business. When the entrepreneur becomes less accessible and scarce, this can result in resentment from other family members.
2. Increasing sense of loneliness and isolation.
For the entrepreneur, the process of starting a business can be a long, lonely road. He often feels that he is on his own, as no one really knows and understands what he is going through in his entrepreneurial journey. No one in his family can relate to the highs and lows that he is experiencing. They don’t know what he sees and feels as he goes through the gamuts of emotion — from excitement to frustrations — when starting a business. In some cases, he may feel ignored and left on his own by his family members who are not really sure of what he is doing.
3. When the family members think the business is nothing but a pipe dream.
There can be significant tensions in the household if the family does not share the same expectations with regards to the outcome of the business as that of the entrepreneur. More so if the family does not believe that the business will succeed, and they are simply “tolerating” the entrepreneur’s “current past time.” If his wife doesn’t believe that the husband’s business is a serious venture or simply thinks that he is just wasting his time, that may result in conflicts between the couple. The husband will feel resentful that the wife does not trust him enough and doesn’t believe that his dreams are within his reach.
4. When the family thinks the entrepreneur is better off putting his time and energy elsewhere.
Oftentimes the rewards of starting a business may not be immediate; in fact, it may be months or years away or perhaps never to come at all. The entrepreneur’s family may think that he is crazy for leaving a stable job with huge income and risking everything to start a business. The wife may simply not believe that the husband is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Or the family may not think that starting a business is worth it and the right course for the husband. Either way, this leaves the entrepreneur alone without support and encouragement from the people closest to him.
5. When the family does not take the business seriously.
It also becomes problematic when the family members do not treat the business with the same seriousness as the entrepreneur. They think that the entrepreneur is just playing and indulging in juvenile fantasies or they may view the business as nothing but a money drain. The wife may even push it further by playing a game of serious comeuppance: when the husband buys an equipment for the business, the wife feels that she has to spend an equivalent amount of clothes and jewelry.
6. When the family resources and assets are put at risk.
When the family thinks the entrepreneur is putting a lot of the family resources and assets at risk, tensions often arise. If the business fails, the family savings could be wiped out; the home foreclosed, even the college education fund of the kids and the retirement money could be gone. It is important to have the family understand and agree on what extent the family assets should be put on risk for the business, including using the family home as collateral for the business loan or tapping into the retirement savings and 401Ks.
7. When the entrepreneur changes — for the worst.
The qualities that make a person do well as an entrepreneur can be the same qualities that could spell the end of a marriage. A person who is confident, opinionated, bossy and even domineering before the start of a business may become even more so when the business has started, resulting in more conflict in the marriage. The confidence and single-mindedness that is needed to successful shepherd a business can be viewed or become pure arrogance.
8. Too much pressure and stress.
The stress of starting a business can be extraordinarily high. The entrepreneur can be bombarded with challenges left and right, the next one more difficult than the next. This can sometimes result to quick tempers, being spaced out, and irritability that may be inadvertently taken out on family members, or behaviors that may not go lightly with family members.