Marriage is a beautiful thing. Sharing your life and experiences with someone can be extremely rewarding and it can also be painstakingly difficult. Like any instance in life, it has good days and bad; it is ebb and flow. These days, marriages do not seem to last, and folks are waiting till a later age to marry, if they choose to do so at all. Despite the trends, I got married when I was 20 years old…to my business.
That’s right: I made my business my wifey, and we have had a great relationship ever since. In 2010 I started laying the groundwork for what would become CreMedia Productions, the multimedia company into which I pour my heart and soul every day. Being an undergraduate student at the time and working 2 part-time jobs, I realized quickly that to succeed in business meant working at it 24 hours a day, every day. It meant making tough decisions about my personal life and putting my business ahead of other desires and temptations. I was by no means a lonely hermit, working 100% of the time, but I was not taking part in the typical college party scene and I had a rather relaxed personal life to offset the intensity of small business.
Through this strong bond to my business, I have learned a lot about how to make a relationship last. This is why I consider myself married to my business; there are many parallels between maintaining a healthy married life and keeping a healthy business. I want to highlight several of these things below.
You Have to Love It
Love is the foundation of marriage. Love is not only a multi-faceted feeling, but love is most importantly a verb. You show people love by doing things for them, making sacrifices, paying attention to their needs, and so forth. You show your business love in much the same way: making sacrifices, giving it your all, and even doing things you just do not want to do for the good of the business.
That love you show should also be felt all the same. If you do not love what you are doing, why are you into it as a business? I married my business because it is not work to me, I just love what I do. This love makes me happy and it is very rewarding for me and the business. We should not marry someone because they are smokin’ hot; it is not enough to maintain the relationship. The same goes for business — you do not maintain a business because it “looks good,” as in it is financially or prestigiously attractive.
The hot spouse will eventually get boring or annoying if the personality does not fit. The highly profitable business will eventually get stifling and cumbersome if you do not genuinely love what you are doing. The love that you have should transcend the physical and create an emotional and intellectual connection as well. Money is a powerful motivator, true…but love trumps all.
Constant Attention is a Necessity
When you have a spouse, you cannot ignore him or her for even a day and expect good results. The same holds true with your business. If you stop paying attention to business for just one day, stop answering emails and phone calls, stop exploring opportunities, stop making developments, chances are high that you will drive you and your business apart. A spouse will tell you in words when they feel neglected (hopefully), but your business has a different way of communicating. Maybe your sales will go down, maybe your timelines will become skewed, or perhaps golden ships will set sail without you. You have to be in constant communication with the business and any players involved with the venture.
Your spouse has needs, as does your business. The only way to assess those needs is to constantly pay attention to cues. Business cues can be a lot more complex to analyze, since you are dealing with people, projects, financials, and a host of other complexities. In some ways, marrying your business can be more challenging than tying the knot with an actual person. Keep your eye on things and keep communication constant…but do not overdo it.
You Need Time Apart
There is this neat time after getting married called the “Honeymoon Phase” where you are so in-love with your spouse that it seems like you could not spend one moment apart. But as time goes on, you realize that to be together at all times only squashes each other’s growth and potential. It is best to understand sooner than later that “the spaces in-between leave room […] to grow.”
Sure, your business needs your attention and care at all times, but you have to take a break once in a while. It was very difficult at first for me to find that work/life balance. I would spend all my time working because I could see progress and I loved it, but my schoolwork and personal relationships began suffering from lack of attention in those areas. Thus, I learned how to manage my time effectively and sometimes just put the business to bed. It is okay to clock out at 5PM and spend time with friends and family once in a while, or all the time if you are super-effective during your working hours. Tim Ferriss really helped me put that in perspective, and I try to live as close to his “4 Hour” mantra as possible.
The point is, too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. Find a healthy balance in your business relationship and strive to maintain your work life and personal life simultaneously.
Meet Each Other’s Needs
It is rare that spouses need the exact same thing in their lives. I think this is due to the common saying that “opposites attract.” Often times, one partner needs a certain stimuli or thing in his or her life while the other partner needs something else. It is give and take. Same holds true with your business.
It is very easy to neglect your personal needs in favor of business needs, and sometimes vice versa. But keep in mind that there are ways to meet each other’s needs. For instance, maybe you need a vacation but your business needs you to gain more clients to meet sales goals. You can meet both needs by taking a trip for a few days to a conference or gathering that can net you leads; it is a win-win. Perhaps you need to learn something new to feel fresh, but your business involves doing the “same old thing” all the time. You can meet both needs by doing that “same old thing” but using a different approach, that way you have a fresh perspective to learn from but you are still meeting the business needs.
Finding a way to stay in business while achieving personal goals and needs will ultimately lead to better business results and a much more rewarding personal life. It is a delicate balance, but it is not too hard to accommodate both when you analyze the end-goals.
So these are just personal observations about my relationship. I feel like I could be a marriage counselor, from my various business and personal relationships over the last half-decade. I am still happy with my wifey and we are doing well 4 years later.
There are bound to be other parallels to married life and business, so feel free to share those in the comments below.