Running a small business on your own can be a lonely/isolating experience, but what do you do when the people who live with you at home aren’t very supportive?
This is something I hear from women in business all the time…they love what they do but their husband just isn’t interested and gives little, or no support. Or worse, deliberately belittles and undermines their business ?
For the purpose of this blog I’m talking about husbands, based on my own experiences from running a business for many years (my husband took a while to come round to the idea) and my experiences of helping other women to grow their businesses. This post may also resonate with you if you have any significant other in your life who isn’t very forthcoming in the support department!
WHY doesn’t he support me? Argh!!
There could be many reasons why your husband isn’t supporting your business efforts, here are just a few…
- He’s worried about you losing money/wasting time/failing
- He doesn’t fully understand your business
- Your business efforts are dipping into usual family time in the evenings or weekends
- He’s unhappy or feels stuck in his employment situation and could be feeling envious that you’re working towards your dreams and he’s unable to
- Men tend to be more practical and logical, so will look at facts, stats and figures. Basically, he wants to see the moolah…and fast! To quote (courtesy of virtual.co.nz website)
Today, men demonstrate a preference for focus, precision, directness, logic, strategy and risk while the women have a preference for organising, strategy, feelings and empathy.
There are clear scientific differences between masculine and feminine thinking – check out this blog/image on medium.com showing the masculine/feminine model and behaviours.
Another thing to consider is whether he is really unsupportive, or is it just the fact that he’s concerned about you wasting time and money? I remember in the early days of my business journey with direct sales, my husband used to get frustrated that I would pay for a stand at various events (such as fetes and school fayres) and would sometimes come home having sold very little, or in some cases, even lost money. He was very practical and would tot up the fuel costs, the stand fee and the cost of my time. My mindset was focused on networking and getting the word out there, rather than sales, but it’s hard to justify this when you don’t have immediate financial rewards.
Trying to justify your business all the time can really drain your energy and if you aren’t careful, your own interest in your business may gradually start to wane as you lose your enthusiasm and motivation, but before I give your some tips to get your husband on board, let’s talk about mindset.
The Entrepreneur mindset
When you go into business, you can’t help but be influenced by others, especially successful business owners in your niche. There are books aplenty about what it takes to succeed in business and there is a lot of talk about having the right mindset. It goes without saying that you need a good business idea, are prepared to work hard (often for not much return in the early stages of business), set regular goals and of course closely monitor your finances but you also need something more; you need passion, dedication and grit.
This mindset isn’t something that others who aren’t in business can necessarily see or understand – hence when you’re talking (or having a little grumble) about your business to friends/relatives, they may say things like “Why don’t you just get a job?” or “Is this really worth your effort?”. The people who say stuff like this are just looking out for your best interests but of course it puts you off sharing your business woes with people who don’t understand the journey, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and not being understood. This is why it’s so important to try and encourage your husband to support your business vision, or all this negativity and lack of support could mean the failure of your business. Time to do something about it!
Tips to get your husband on board with your biz
- Show him the money ? – Give examples of other people in your line of business who have become successful to show him that it CAN be done (back this up with financial evidence and you’re onto a win/win)
- Talk and ask – It’s no good being possessive about your business baby as that will only alienate your husband more. Tell him what’s going on in your business, tell him your vision and try and make it a shared vision which he can help you to create. ASK for help and advice, make it known that his opinion is important to you. I find that my husband gives me great advice and tends to calm me down when I’m having a wobbly about something and am tempted to fire off a ranty email or social media post, without really thinking about it. He encourages me to just stop, reflect and not act straight away – phew!
- Can he bring anything to the table? – Maybe your husband is a whizz on the computer and can help you with techy problems? Is he a spreadsheet king who can help you with your accounting? Does he work in marketing and can help you design flyers and social media shareables? By asking your husband to help you, he’ll really start to feel involved with the business.
- Share progress and results – you’ll be setting your business goals each week/month/year, so make sure you share these with your husband to show that you’re heading in the right direction.
- Set boundaries – Be really clear about when you work on your business and make sure your whole household (and your clients for that matter) knows about it. This means your husband/kids know your work times and won’t disturb you (we live in hope). Having a clear work schedule is good for you too! Who can blame your husband for getting a bit irked when you’ve settled down with a glass of wine to watch a movie on a Saturday night and you start replying to a work email? Get those boundaries in place sooner rather than later to save your sanity. Set clear boundaries with your clients too, so they know if it’s past 6pm, they won’t get a reply until the next day. If you’ve been replying to emails at all hours, clients will come to expect it! Check out this blog on Time Vampires.
- Think about the benefits – If your new work schedule means you’re working 2 evenings a week, that means your husband has some free time to do stuff he enjoys (he could watch The Grand Tour uninterrupted!!). If you’ve got children, what a lovely opportunity for them to have some daddy/daughter/son time together. You are teaching your children an amazing life lesson because let’s face it, being in business is often fraught with challenges, disappointments and failures. If you talk about this with your children, you’ll be teaching them the skill of resilience and they’ll fearlessly face their own challenges head on. You are being a great role model to your children, showing them that anything is possible (you never know, you might inspire your husband to start a business too).
- Make a pact – If finances are an issue and you really need to be bringing in a certain amount each month, consider making an agreement that if after XX amount of months your business isn’t bringing in the revenue expected, you’ll consider supplementing your income with freelance work or part-time employment. I know this isn’t the ideal scenario when you’re desperate to make a success of your business but it’s not worth getting into debt if you’re struggling. Be sensible and realistic about your business income and don’t make any big investments which might impact your family without talking them through first.
- Accept that he might never be your #1 fan (and that’s ok) – Your husband could turn out to be the most amazing business mentor, then again, he might not. As long as it’s not causing problems in your relationship, accept that he might just come to a place where he ‘lets you get on with it’ without any grumbling or interference and that’s ‘good enough’. YOU believing in you is going to be one of the biggest indicators of your business success – be your own cheerleader.
I first talked about this topic live in my Facebook group for Women in Business, you can watch the replay below.
How you can get your Husband/Partner to support your business from Suzannah on Vimeo.
In the interests of equality and diversity, the tips I give in this blog are based on my own experiences and research. If you are in a same sex partnership/marriage, or have a different viewpoint, feel free to comment below.
Have you got any tips about how to get the support of your husband, friends or family? Leave a comment to help other women in business.
P.S. Funnily enough, after I had written this blog post (which took about 2 hours), my husband asked whether I had researched my keywords for SEO to check the topic would actually be of interest to people, otherwise I had in effect ‘wasted my time’…*sigh* I had to explain that sometimes you just have to write about what’s in your heart or on your mind ? Perhaps you’d like to leave a comment or hit the like button to prove it was worth it!