I got a troubling email the other day, a response from a former student to my post Monday, the one where my wife said we’ll risk it together. This was from a man who was one of the most likable students I’ve ever taught, a hard worker, an achiever who I expect to be running for public office some day (and in this case I mean that in a good way).
Referring to that post, here’s what he said:
I was wondering, would you have still left your job and ventured out on your own if your wife was absolutely unsupportive and opposed to the idea? And how did her words help you? I hope I am not asking questions that are too personal, but my situation is similar to yours, except my wife is the exact opposite of yours.
That email came a couple of days ago, but I had to think about it. And I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have left that job, back then, if my wife had objected.
I know, my answer sort of spoils the story, and the rah-rah of entrepreneurship, the idea that we follow our passion and overcome all obstacles. But it’s the truth. Businesses fail, and it’s naive of us to forget that sometimes they fail despite our best efforts. Sometimes the reluctant spouse is just plain right. Sometimes the failure to get investment, the obstacles that accumulate, are a message.
And, looking at it realistically, there’s no denying, like it or not, that a spouse who doesn’t buy into the dream adds to the risk. You don’t want to throw the family into the mix. Plan more, research more, and either answer the objections or, heaven forbid, accept that the world is sending you a clue.
This is a tough question, obviously. Every case is different. But we do glorify the entrepreneurial a bit too much, and we glaze over some of the risks involved. Sometimes.
I have a very good friend who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Atlanta when he got his lifetime dream job. It was exactly what he’d prepared for, in the segment he’d worked in, but with much more responsibility and a lot more money.
When he was back six months later, the obvious question was: "What happened?"
"Well," he answered, "I guess the thing is that it’s much easier to get a new job than a new wife."
And, by the way, I switched the word "wife" to "spouse" for the title of this post, because I think the situation is gender neutral. This is about relationships, not specifically wives. It could have been she, and her husband, and it would be the same.