3 Essential Boundaries for Mom Entrepreneurs and Their Husbands
In the beginning, I thought it was going to be a breeze when my husband, Terry, joined me working full-time in my business. If anyone could do it, we could! We already had a healthy relationship built on trust and respect. We communicated well. We both strongly believed in what we were doing. We understood the need to help each other with the children, keeping the house, and with the business. We planned to allow for fluctuations in income to keep stresses over money to a minimum. Yet I still wasnít prepared.
For anyone considering working with your spouse, here are 3 Essential Boundaries for Entrepreneurial Couples to help to ease your transition:
1. Clarify expectations for work/home.
Nothing can prepare you for the blurring of boundaries and turf that occur as you transition into working together. When you join together with your spouse, most likely, both of you have experienced success throughout your careers, and have developed your own working style. Suddenly you have a whole new dynamic in your relationship with your spouse you must learn to work through. I always knew that we had different gifts and talents: Terry is very techie and he loves to write, and I am a people person who is an administrative whiz. Even though I should have probably seen it coming, I was still surprised at the difference in our work styles. I multi-task all day long, and he prefers to work on one project at a time. Just like being newlyweds all over again, we had to put some effort into getting to know each other on a whole new level to be able to work well together.
Beth Butler, creator of the Boca Beth Program has some helpful tips for clarifying expectations with your spouse. ìI make us lunch each day and we try to talk about BOCA BETH items that are pressing. It’s our time to reconnect – he works from home for the wine company he represents and I work from home sharing my passion for second language learning with young children. A funny mix, but it works! We talk about what each of us has planned the next day so there are no surprises – and I use that time to ask for his help. I can’t expect him to guess what I need so I have learned to be very specific.î
2. Schedule time for love.
Most entrepreneurial couples complain they have less time together than before. It is possible to work beside your spouse in the same office all day long and barely speak on a personal level. How difficult is it to turn off your cell phone and talk a walk with your love? It is imperative to make it a point to schedule time for your relationship so that the business does not overtake it. Terry and I plan ahead to sneak away for lunch or to take a break at Starbucks. We have found if we donít take the time to schedule in these lunch or coffee dates, then they are less likely to happen as we work to meet deadlines or get a project done. We havenít yet been able to master scheduling ìregular datesî, but its next on our list of priorities in order to help keep our close relationship.
3. Schedule time for yourself.
It can be a shock when you suddenly have so much time with your spouse. In your previous life, they left at 7 AM and came home at 6 PM, and then you discussed your day during dinner. Now you spend most (if not all) of the day with them, and during dinner, there is nothing new to discuss. Where is the time for you? Karyn Fagan, Founder of Team Women, tells ìWe both have hobbies that we love outside of the house so we have that important away time.î
Terry and I certainly have a long way to go as an Entrepreneurial Couple, but we have made it through our entrepreneurial ìhoneymoonî period. Each day, we work together to reach our goals and dreams. We understand when we help each other we will reach our dreams sooner, so we help each wherever its needed!
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Tips for Mom Entrepreneurs: How to Stay Connected to Your Network
As a working mom, you may already feel overwhelmed, juggling dual responsibilities of work and family. When it comes to networking ñ yet another task ñ you may feel that ìthe time Iíve spent at networking has never really paid off.î
Creating a personal and professional network is essential for your work + life success. Thatís why working moms need to approach networking with a different paradigm, explained below as a three-part process.
Networking isnít just about collecting business cards from people you think may help you. Itís about planting seeds and nurturing long-term relationships that mature over time.
As a mom, you may understand this process well because it calls upon the same nurturing skills you already use with your family.
How many times have you attended networking events and seen others jabber on about themselves and frantically hand out dozens, if not hundreds, of their cards? This frenetic approach only makes them look weak. As a working mom, draw on that ìMommyî authority to engage in empowering, networking actions.
* Give ñ Adopt a giving attitude. When you meet someone ask, ìHow can I help you?î Always think, ìWho could I connect them with to help them meet their goals?î Itís a natural principle: The more you help others, the more others will help you.
* Ask ñ Be bold. Always think, ìyou never know what will happenî and ìitís worth a try.î If you meet a new contact and find you have an instant connection, donít be afraid to ask for help.
* Follow up – Getting introduced to the ìrightî people is important, but itís what you do after the introduction that really counts. If youíve felt a connection with a new contact, phone, email or send a thank-you note within one or two days. Then, keep in touch periodically, even if just to say, ìHi, itís been awhileÖî
Efficient Use of Time
You may be thinking, ìIíd like to stay connected with people, but I just donít have the time.î Here are three ways to efficiently find time to network:
* Lunch Hours ñ Iíve historically used my lunch hour, a coveted ME time, to run errands, walk a mile or two or get my hair or nails done. Yet, many associations and groups schedule networking meetings during this time. So, I began to add networking lunches. Itís a great way to preserve early-morning and evening family hours by substituting networking lunches for breakfast meetings or evening mixers!
* ìCoffee/lunch over the phoneî ñ My business partner, Jo Della Penna, introduced me to the idea of networking by scheduling ìcoffee over the phoneî. What a great idea! This is a more efficient way to meet. Plus, neither party has to invest in driving time. When you want to spend time with a colleague, try a relaxing ìlunch over the phoneî by scheduling a lunch appointment, packing a lunch that day and calling at the appointed time.
* Schedule in advance – Earmark your calendar to remind yourself to re-connect with a contact periodically. If you meet a new contact today, schedule the follow up call for two days later and plan a ìcheck-inî email within 60 days.
Remember, the key to networking is building a relationship over time. By using the steps above you should succeed at establishing good relationships that empower you and your business, and yet, donít use hours and hours of your time.