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Why spouses destroy businesses (and how you can avoid this)

I talk about the extreme difficulty of achieving both wealth, freedom and sanity. It’s the trifecta of entrepreneurial success. Truth is, there is actually another ingredient that bakes the cake of entrepreneurial happiness. Love.

Bad news: The most common relationship dynamic is downright destructive when it comes to business goals.

If you’re utterly chilled out, rich and have all the time in the world… being alone will make all those victories seem bitter sweet. The rewards of business success are that much more compelling when we can share them with someone special.

The insanity, poverty and captivity experienced by business owners as they work their butts off trying to achieve success is not exactly conducive to a fantastic home life.

This is one of those double-bad situations. Entrepreneurs tend to be shitty at relationships and relationships tend to be bad news for entrepreneurs.

Before you shout out to tell me why yours is different, let’s talk about the more insidious way relationships can ruin businesses. You may never have considered what I’m about to tell you.

Entrepreneurs need to risk it all

I’ve spent years studying the psychology of ultra successful business people. Some tycoons from afar, via whatever media I can get hold of. Some, who’ve built businesses worth hundreds of millions, were clients.

Time and time again, I’ve confirmed that the most successful business people are those who are willing to risk everything to achieve something meaningful. They’re bootstrappers who’ll do what ever it takes to succeed.

This includes selling everything they own to fund a new venture. Maybe it’s working 120 hour weeks for a year. Or maybe it’s moving to the other side of the world to make it big somewhere new.

Entrepreneurs who go “all in” tend to fail spectacularly.

Don’t get me wrong, all business owners fail… but the ones who play for big stakes also fail big.

Then, something interesting happens. They get stung, learn massively and never make that mistake again. Soon, they start to win.

It turns out that entrepreneurs who win big in business have a track record of massive failures. All evidence points to the fact that a few big failures are mandatory for big success. Just ask Donald Trump about his $900 million debt.

The sting of huge failure and loss is not only educating, it’s often what emotionally galvanizes an entrepreneur to stop ****ing around and get serious about their success. Almost every successful business owner, if you ask them, can recall a specific day in their life where they said to themselves “Enough bullshit, it’s time to make things HAPPEN!” … or something of the sort.

What does this have to do with relationships?

Everything. There are two ways relationships prevent entrepreneurs experiencing the empowering and educating failures they need.

Cushion relationships

Got a partner with a comfortable salary? Could you and yours scrape by on one income if worst came to worst?

If the answer is yes, there’s a big chance you’re living in a risk bubble. You’re insulated from the real cost of your decisions, because someone has your back.

Who will be more successful, in your opinion: The newbie entrepreneur with a lawyer wife on a six figure salary… or the newbie entrepreneur with nothing and no one?

Psychology and the anecdotal statistics of almost every business leader’s autobiography confirm the latter will go on to be a rockstar.

If you’re in a cushion relationship, it’s likely that you’re being robbed of the fiery motivational drive to get your venture off the ground.

Luckily, the solution is simple.

To escape the paralysis of a cushion relationship, you simply need to do that which you fear the most. Think bigger. Take bigger risks and build something with the momentum that takes you way outside your comfort zone, both psychologically and financially.

Build a business that could (and will) earn more that your partner’s income. Build a business that intelligently risks more than your partner can afford to bail you out of… and make it work.

It’ll scare the shit out of you. You’ll wake up every morning knowing that every action you take in the day matters enormously.

In other words, you’ll start to feel like an entrepreneur.

What if you’re not in a cushion relationship. The other common (even worse) relationship dynamic for entrepreneurs is:

Pillar relationships

These are the opposite of the cushion, because you are supposed to be the cushion. Your partner is leaning you. If you’ve been working a comfortable job for years… is your partner going to be okay for you to risk everything to have a shot at business success?

Pillar relationships happen when your partner grows complacent relying on your money making abilities and doesn’t share your goal for freedom and wealth. Why start a business, they say, when you could simply keep up your well paid corporate postion.

I’ve seen pillar relationships where the entrepreneur was only “allowed” to go full time on their own business if they could guarantee a salary that matched their old job. No matter what.

This is the fast track to insanity. The drooling, twitching kind.

When an entrepreneur is under pressure to achieve their goals, keep staff and customers happy and stay in business… all the while keeping a partner in the lifestyle they’re comfortable with… something is going to pop. Or explode.

Don’t get me wrong, I think pressure is good. Pressure is motivating and a bit of initial scrambling in a start-up can be hugely positive… even if it’s only positive in hindsight. However, there is such a thing as too much pressure.

When an entrepreneur isn’t free to fail, they’re not free to learn. When a spouse makes the cost of learning too high, an entrepreneur will go crazy trying to avoid that learning experience.

A pillar relationship is one in which the partner isn’t willing to take the hit of a “learning experience”. It’s a relationship where an undercurrent of threat exists at all times.

The solution to this insidious relationship is, unfortunately, unavailable for some. The partner has to be willing to utterly embrace the most cliched vow in existence…

“For better or for worse…”

It’s impossible to maintain both a successful business AND relationship when this vow is missing.

For an entrepreneur to really flourish, their partner needs to understand that total failure is an option. In fact, for a total newcomer to self employed business, some failure is guaranteed.

When a spouse gives their entrepreneur partner the commitment of the “For better or for worse” vow, they liberate them enormously. They empower them to play the game at 110% with the safety and knowledge that, though they might end up camping in a tent by the side of the road… a loving embrace is never far away.

When it comes to building businesses, this knowledge tends to help. Massively. The certainty of a relationship that’ll never go away because of business mistakes is the most powerful psychological force an entrepreneur can possess.

The certainty of this vow creates a new kind of relationship that transcends the reliance of a pillar and the comfort of a cushion. It creates a platform of trust and emotional safety on which an entrepreneur can build a rocket.

Rockets tend to crash, burn and waste millions. Even the experts at NASA get them wrong sometimes. However, when a rocket succeeds it achieves flight and velocity that makes everyone else just sit and gape in awe.

Thoughts?

57 Comments

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    1. Sorry – had to.

      Nice post. I think it’s very helpful to be able to talk things over with a partner – business or otherwise – but I see how they could also damage the awesomeness that you could create!

  1. Well Peter I like a challenge, especially one thrown down by you.

    I will start by saying that this post had me cringing in the first sentence. I squirmed, nodded and thought I’m $#%#. I am happily married and hubby and I live an incredibly comfortable lifestyle. He knows my entreprenurial plans and the past 5 years have involved long teary conversations – with me saying “you don’t understand” and he throwing ultimatiums.

    But we are through the other side with a clear path and big ideas.

    I know that I will create a thriving online business as an entreprenuer with the support of my hubby because I have 2 great role models – my father and mother in law. Both were successful business owners who created their own business, with spouses by their sides. I have grown up hearing ‘war stories’ from the entreprenurial trenches and now they are hear to guide and support me as I make and take my own beautiful risks.

    So my question, since you brought up the Don, is how well do the children of entreprenuers cope in the entreprenurial world? How come some thrive and some fail? Is it the same reasons as you mentioned above.

    Cheers

    1. Hey Ainslie! Thanks for this thoughtful comment. I want to highlight something really important here, because you basically answered your own question: Role models.

      When it comes to parenting, I think the concept of “entrepreneur” or “worker” or whatever pretty much vanish… the kids don’t care. All they see is “mom” and “dad”.

      That’s why parents who continue to be good role models will raise healthy and well adjusted kids. The parents who aren’t…. won’t. This applies to entrepreneurs just as much as everyone else.

      Does that make sense?

      1. As a parent of two myself, I can vouch for what Peter says. Kids don’t care who you are. They care how you care about them.

        That said, they’ll pick up on what you teach them. If you value education over street smarts, they’ll see that. If you make a restaurant meal a marketing lesson, they’ll see that. If you tell them to have good manners or to shake hands like this, they’ll see that.

        It’s just… learning, through what they see. That’s all 🙂

  2. LOL – I’ve got a cushion, as you well know! Damn comfortable cushion it is too, most of the time.

    I’m going to go away and so some more thinking about what you’ve said, a few weeks ago I began thinking about the scary, risk all stuff, thanks for the kick to keep going!

  3. Dude, I’ve got the solution. Just fail so spectacularly despite your best efforts that there’s no avoiding dragging both of you down. That’s what happened with me.

    I wouldn’t have intentionally “risked it all” as you describe for the reasons you describe. But what happened was that things just steadily got worse and worse and worse, and my “sure thing” real estate investments became big losers when the bottom dropped out of the market. I had the “drive” experience that came from a spectacular crash-and-burn, but it sneaked up on me. There was no knowledge ahead of time that it could happen, and no real way to avoid it on the slide to the bottom.

    But you’re absolutely right, and I’ve said it over and over again: Without that failure, none of the good stuff in my business would have ever happened. I absolutely needed that huge failure, and am thankful for it.

    1. Johnny’s story sounds a lot like mine. I was doing quite well until the real estate market crashed. To make things worse, my wife was also laid off from work. We lost our house, investments, a chunk of our savings, etc.

      That was the period when my wife and I agreed I’m really going to push for making things happen on my end and not rely mostly on working for someone else.

    2. Awesome real-world example Johnny. This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about and a perfect example of how entrepreneurs transform shit-storms into learning experiences they can be extremely grateful for.

  4. What happens if you’re Canadian and don’t have a spouse but do have a partner? 😛 Spouse is so old-fashioned…

    Anyways, lots to think about in this one. Relationships add a whole new ball game to life, don’t they? Full of strikes, curve balls, races to base and even a few thrown bats and shouting matches. Been there, done that. Not fun.

    I think that for me, at the end of the day, I continually know that there’s no one but me to rely on. No matter whether I have a cushion or a pillar (or nothing at all!), neither of those are guarantees and are risks in themselves.

    Oh, and there’s the other way relationships destroy businesses… new ones are very sparkly and fun, and it’s easy to drop business to go off and play for a while. 🙂

    1. Ah yes, James Chartrand… the “island” model of entrepreneurs. Love it.

      The other thing about sparkly new relationships is that they can sneak up on you and turn into comfy cushions before you even know it 😛

  5. Thankfully I am neither a pillar nor have a cushion. And I do have the for better or for worse vow. I am however obsessed about my business and my wife and I both feel as though I am a failure as a husband. I am trying to be successful as both a husband, a father, and an entrepreneur. One of the things that is helping is finding help with the entrepreneur stuff. Unfortunately that comes at a cost, but it makes sure my Purely Poultry customers are taken care of!

    1. Hey Tyler, thanks for joining in the discussion here. Part of winning here is going to come down to you having the belief that you have the capability to be a great husband.

      Remember: Behavior is not identity.

  6. Sometimes I imagine that my business would be much further along if I didn’t have a family to care for, but I quickly realize that’s a shit excuse. That fact is, they’ve helped me discover who I really want to be when I grow up much faster than I could on my own.

    I think it’s their trust in me that’s probably the biggest push. I’ve failed for too many times to count, but they never remember them (except that time we had to sell the house and everything else. Hard to forget that one :-)). They DO remember the successes though. Funny how that works.

    I think you also have to look at how you gauge success. Money IS a huge part (folks who say otherwise haven’t spent much time without it), but things like time, the type of time spent, teaching chances, and other, are things to consider when you have a spouse and kids.

    1. Hey Andy, great comments and lots to think about/learn from here. Thanks for contributing buddy. It sounds to me like you’re extremely fortunate – not everyone only remembers the successes 😉

      I tend to see time and money as different analogues of the same cosmic *thing*. You can transform time into money and money into time very quickly. Another word for it could be “power” or “freedom”… but either way, focusing on just one form of success never ends well.

  7. Entrepreneurs need to risk it all. That about sums it up Peter, but I would like to add that everyone is in business intentionally or unintentionally.

    Everything in life is a risk. Be it the common 65 year old plan, with the equally common risks associated like market, housing, inflation, family, and health. Will they all cooperate with that 65 year plan? Probably not.

    Failure is guaranteed as Peter points out. So our only question is the risk (intentionally or unintentionally) worth the rewards? Leverage is heightened by travailing the roads others are unwilling to take, and that is where we gain our entrepreneurial advantages. The biggest being passion.

    Here’s to taking our passion with spouse/partner on that road less traveled.

    1. EXCELLENT comments Jonathan. But remember, if *everyone* realizes that they’re all living in risk (and not just us crazy entrepreneurs) then the world might fall apart. So shhhh!

      😉

  8. (Warning: language. Warning: lengthy comment.)

    I’m married to an entrepreneur who, by every definition of the word, is successful. I don’t *need* to earn a dime. What further complicates that dynamic is three-fold:

    (1) I was always an overachiever in school and in my work life. I was always super promotable. Ambitious. Smart. Etc. Finished university (biz school) at the top of my class. I was “going places.” Bla bla bla.

    Entrepreneurship doesn’t align with Type A-ism terribly well.

    (2) My husband and I wanted a family. By virtue of my gender, I’m the one who made the babies. My babies weren’t the pop-out-give-a-bottle-sleep-all-day-and-night kind. They were the nurse-every-hour-pick-me-up-and-hold-me-and-be-with-me-every-second-high-needs kind.

    (2a) I resisted too much daycare because that’s just the kind of mommy genes I got.

    (3) My family is NOT entrepreneurial. I avoided entrepreneurship with everything in my being up until the moment my firstborn was about 10 months old and I was suddenly torn between the need to stop my brain from leaking out my ears and being there for my kids, on my terms.

    So it’s been a MAJOR head-f**k to figure myself out as an entrepreneur and business woman. Am I “there” yet? Sorta. But it wasn’t easy. And keeping marriage alive and well in the middle of it all is damned hard work. If you pull back the curtain on the personal lives of many (MANY) “successful” entrepreneurs … well, the truth ain’t pretty. Just that no one talks about it. (“Home wrecking” doesn’t sell programs.)

    So thanks for this post, Peter. It’s a subject I’ve been wanting to write or talk about for a long time. But now I can tick it off my list 😉

    Cheers,
    Karri

    1. Karri, oh parallel lives!
      I have a PhD, highly independent, high achieving.
      I wanted kids and had one who was super high needs. (He’s cool now, though).
      Husband has a steady job with an employer and doesn’t get my drive…
      Entrepreneurship is an awesome journey for me, but, yeah, the relationship side of things is a constant effort and work in progress..

    2. Karri,

      So much of what you had to say resonated for me, both in the home and business side and in your reaction to the article.

      I found the article challenging because I am not naturally an entrepreneur, but have become one in order to have the career/family life that I want. Success for me is definitely defined on multiple fronts, with income factoring in as a means to the kind of experiences I want with my family.

      Thanks for the post Peter, and the comment Karri. You both resonated for me.

      Ann

    3. Hey Karri,

      Thanks for opening up here and sharing a glimpse of what’s going on with you and yours. You’ve got the double-entrepreneur dynamic going on in your household… so the question is, how can you guys be NASA ground control for one another? Ensure your rockets both soar? … And (extending the metaphor WAY too far)… that your rockets meet in space for “date night” every week???

      1. Well it took us a few years post-baby-making but we finally have a semi-regular babysitter we feel comfortable with. I can’t even express the importance of having an escape hatch!! I admit we fall off the date wagon sometimes. But taking care of ANYthing in your life that matters to you requires maintenance maintenance maintenance. Not sexy. But it works. In biz and in relationships 😉

        On those weekends when we finally do get our act together and go on a date, we’re practically skipping out the door!

        ‘Course, we talk about our kids for most of the meal, but hey, that’s beside the point. At least our kids aren’t THERE interrupting.

        But yeah, the double-entrepreneur thing is pretty wacky. In our situation it’s wacky because we have little ones relying on us for pretty much everything and also because I’ve had to “grow into” the entrepreneur thing much more so than Jason did. Or maybe it’s just about growing up, period. But that’s another post, isn’t it? 🙂

        Thanks for the space to discuss.

        PS: Cool avatar, Peter, but when did you get so YOUNG? Is that an old pic?Sheesh! Put the goggles back on or something. Your baby face is making me feel like a dinosaur!

        1. That was taken by the amazing Marla Sarris in Austin a few weeks ago. I can understand the shock – some people have trouble coping when they discover my unbelievable good looks.

  9. So interesting, Peter. When my wife became chronically ill right before we got married, and then stayed that way for ten years, and I had to suddenly support both of us, that was definitely a (loooong) galvinizing moment. Painful. Plus tens of thousands of dollars of debt from a previous failed venture that left me shamed and cowed.

    But, since I haven’t quite achieved (yet) what I’ve set out to do, maybe I need to first accumulate $900 million in debt- that may do it…

    Thankfully my wife has been incredibly supportive, loving, and a partner in this whole affair. And now that she’s been taken out of the game, this time for mothering our twin boys (only a little over two years old at this point) it feels like the stakes are even higher. And yes, we find ourselves in the next stage of business building, to create more independence, a real organization.

    The trouble is that because of my values, and desire to be a father who is present, I no longer have the stretch time- the weekends, the evenings. I need to be clear and focused during the day.

    What the heck am I doing commenting on this blog? Back to work…

    love
    M

    1. Hey Mark, thanks for finding the time to comment 🙂

      It sounds to me like the universe has delivered unto you a set of circumstances that has made doing what you do (with the success you HAVE achieved) the only possible option!

      And like I said in another comment (above)… Time and money are interchangeable heads of the same mysterious thing. Analogs of the same energy.

      If you choose to cash yours in for more time than money, that’s a powerful kind of success. As far as businesses go, that’s one a spouse could really get behind: “Hey honey! The more successful I am, the more time I’ll have!”

      🙂

  10. Hi Peter,

    Interesting topic you’ve written about here. I can definitely see this happening if the mates don’t have the same definition of success.

    I’m super fascinated with this line, “The insanity, poverty and captivity experienced by business owners as they work their butts off trying to achieve success is not exactly conducive to a fantastic home life.” Do folks feel that a fantastic home life is not part of their definition of success? Is it just the money? Also curious what drives folks to success when it’s never really defined. Is it a big income or something more qualitative like a big love?

    Thanks! G.

    1. Hi Giuliette. What I was trying to say there is that, quite often, freedom and time etc have to be *temporarily* suspended in order to work like crazy… to in turn create MORE freedom and time.

      Same thing with money. As any bootstrapping startup CEO knows… sometimes you have to earn nothing to have a shot at making *everything* 😉

      It’s only ever temporary though.

  11. I am spectacularly lucky.

    I have a partner who makes very little money – enough for his needs and the food shopping – but is much more relaxed about money problems than I am.

    When I was contemplating going full-time with the business and knowing that I would be the breadwinner, he was completely chill about it. “Money works out somehow.”

    And in the month where I shut down the old business in order to build the new one, he stood by me when no money was coming in and kept putting the food on the table. So I never hit the ABSOLUTE panic-flaily bottom of we-can’t-buy-dinner-or-toilet-paper, just the ten inches above bottom of we-are-two-weeks-overdue-on-the-rent-and-I-have-no-idea-when-money-will-start-coming-in-again.

    So he’s not a cushion, he’s the glass of water under the high diver.

    I’m going to be extra-good to him today.

  12. This post edifies me in so many ways I’m not sure where to start.

    So I’ll start here: as a currently single person, I’m well aware that my partner needs to be down with my entrepreneurial streak. Okay, it’s less of a streak and more of a body cast. 🙂

    I got out of a four-year relationship in the Fall and one of the reasons was that he was uncomfortable with the financial uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship {especially in the early stages}. Funny thing is, he’s a business owner himself. But NOT an entrepreneur. {There’s a BIG distinction.}

    My entrepreneurship, and the ocean of financial possibilities that come with it {poor, rich, somewhere in between}, are part of the package deal with me. 🙂

    Thanks for writing this post, Peter.

    1. Hey Abby,

      I was nodding my head all the way while reading your comment. Very much one of those “been there and done that” moments. I know *exactly* what you mean.

      Thanks for joining in the discussion 🙂

  13. Peter,

    Wow! What an honest post.

    One of things I loved about finding out that I was really an entrepreneur – though one who masqueraded as a non-profit do gooder for 2 decades until he found the concept of making the world a better place through business – is that failing is part of the game. I came to entreprenuership crawling on my knees from a bad ending of a marriage that I thought would last a lifetime. “Ouch!” doesn’t even begin to cover it ..

    Now, 4 years into my business and with a sustainable and growing client base, I’m engaged. To be married. To another entrepreneur who’s fairly early on in the process.

    Let’s just say I laughed aloud more than once in the post. Thanks for you honesty and truthspeaking!

  14. Whoa! You’ve got a lotta nerve. Dang. I like that!

    You’re right about the cushion. When I went broke, I did have a cushion. And I’ve not pressed the hard-core-work buttons on myself. I plan to. I need to. But this gave me an ass-kicking that is sorely needed. You’re right, that cushion eases the pain.

    I’m gonna get hungry. I have to! I can’t bear this dependency that I’ve gotten myself into, even though he’s sweet as a kitten and doesn’t mind it in the least. But I do! Sumthin’s gotta give. Wish me luck!

    1. Hey Paula, a word of advice:

      Don’t look for the buttons – look for the diving board. Just plunge into something so big that you’ll need way more than the cushion you’ve got.

      Look before you jump… but not for too long.

  15. Interesting post, Peter! I can definitely see how a relationship could be a big issue in entrepreneurship and in moving forward.

    I’m really lucky in that Matt and I both have entrepreneurial drives; as you might remember, he’s a pedicabber, which isn’t quite being an entrepreneur but has a lot of freedom (set your own hours, your own rates, etc.), and he’s got several plans in the making. Not to mention that when we first moved down to Texas, our money situation got….well, let’s just say there were a couple of “Ok, so do we pay the month-late electric bill or go buy more groceries and cat food first?” moments. (And talking the electric guy out of shutting the electricity off moments. You know.) So we’ve both experienced pretty damn close to rock-bottom, together, which lit a fire under our collective asses to never have that happen again.

    I have a really hard time imagining being with someone who isn’t an entrepreneur – I don’t feel like we could have a lot of the conversations that Matt and I have, he’s a great brainstorming partner and sounding board, and we can critique each others’ ideas and business ventures and etc. from a position of someone who knows what’s up. I really enjoy that aspect of our relationship, personally.

  16. Wow!

    This was a thinker…30 years with same person…now we are both entrepreneurs … wouldn’t have guessed that when we started. We both worked for somebody and pretty much hated it from the get-go. I was just “blessed” to hear my “calling” long before my partner did. I wanted to be a doctor since near infancy (really…my baby pictures show me examining my dolls and pets with a stethescope before I could walk). But I bought a lot of stupid extraneous reasons for not doing it, until my partner looked up calmly from a book & said “Sh#t or get off the pot!” Seems it was the hundredth time I had repeated my rant about how I shoulda been a …..!

    The lightening struck. My inner and outer life clicked for the first time…but my partner didn’t know what we were in for…I knew I was going to have to go all in…essentially abandoning our relationship for 10+years…but it was clear…I had to do this or wither and die…so I offered my partner a free pass off the bus…this wasn’t part of our original agreement, you can leave if you need to…no harm no foul….Lucky for me “for better or worse” means something binding to an ISTJ type. So the wild ride started…then I walk out the doors of residency 10 yr later…my partner wants to retire…I say…but I can’t “work” for this crazy system…it eats its young….I want to start my own office!…partner said….figure out how to pay the bills and I’m all in…but I need a break from holding up the roof!

    OK, I did everything I could that didn’t tie me down, then I negotiated a killer contract for 15 months that nearly killed me but kept the lights on and gave me seed money for the future business…good thing since we didn’t see a paycheck again for 2 years….then my partner worked for my office for 5 years…then got the entrepreneur bug, found an apprenticeship, and opened a business that is now paying all its bills before it is even a year old. Seems we learned a LOT of short cuts from my long drawn out history…

    We nearly lost the relationship around the 20 year mark…cuz my partner had spent too long supporting me and not being “selfish” enough to find out what number one wanted. When our counselor helped my partner find that voice…watch out! I got a whole new partner and lover (same person… only happier!).

    So in 30 years we were able to stay together because…

    a) we were never both out of love with each other at the same time…and
    b) we never tried to each open a business at the same time…and
    c) we learned to be responsible for our own happiness but to be equally concerned about supporting each other’s,
    d) AND…we were just REALLY effing lucky!

    Thanks for the post, Peter
    Cory

  17. I can not personally speak of marital relationships in respect to business, though I did at one point have a girlfriend about a year into my first business. I met her because she started out as a waitress for me (I can hear the palms hitting foreheads all over the world).

    I felt that I had achieved a stable hold on operations and a competent crew. I had worked my ass off – blood, sweat, and tears transformed from figurative speech to a tangible reality. I have of course heard people preach the whole “never date a co-worker” jazz and what not. Keep business and pleasure separate. Blah blah blah – so what? If I had listened to all the things people were saying, I would never have taken the risks which got me to where I was. And at the time, I was freaking awesome. I was invincible. In my own mind of course – and looking back I feel embarrassed to have entertained such thoughts. I was always seeking new challenges to overcome. New problems to solve. People to prove wrong. The fact that every day brought a new obstacle to destroy was inspiring and exciting.

    When I started dating this girl, that all changed. I do not regret my time with her in any way. It is the effect that our relationship had on my business. I had suddenly become complacent and satisfied with what I had and completely shifted all energies from growth and progression to stability and security. I had money from the store, freedom provided by a competent crew, and a woman to top it all off. It was my of my own doing that I inadvertently halted and destroyed the evolution of my entrepreneurial spirit. I wish I had the perspective that I do now of the whole situation. If half of the effort I was giving towards keeping things the same with my personal/business life solely to the business, it would have completely shadowed my previous thoughts of invincibility. Though love can be blinding.

    After a few months we broke up. This girl was my best waitress, so I saw her almost every day, for most of the day. Fortunately, I was level-headed enough to keep all interactions with her at the store completely to business. I do not wish this torture upon anyone. I shamefully regret to say that about 6 months later I fired her because of a combination of suspicion and rumors of theft and insubordination amplified by my own personal feelings. To this day I am disturbed by the fact that I still can not decide if my judgement was bias or just.

    Anyway, I am not fishing for tears or sympathy. I want to give my opinion of the impact love/passion can have on your business from my own experience. It is an incredible ally and enemy to business. If only we could wield such a thing for good. Unfortunately, being a relationship means more than you influencing some decisions. So please use caution when incorporating another in your outlaw life-style. We are all risk-takers, and I personally believe having love in your life can make your professional life flourish. We are going to throw bombs around risking safety in the name of entrepreneurship… and because anything that explodes is pretty damn cool! However, just like the A-Bomb, and especially the “L-word” bomb (or any bomb for that matter)… don’t blow yourself up!

  18. Enjoyed reading this and found it insightful, particularly the observation that almost everyone who succeeds has had to fail first. Some people never learn and go on to repeat the same mistakes over and over again, leaving serial disaster in their wake but living to fight another day. This is usually down to being supremely good at obtaining credit, which makes them wonderful bullshitters but lousy followers through. The one rule they never break is the reason many sound enterprises fail, ie: don’t treat your bank (or bank manager) like a friend or member of the business team.

  19. Peter, your articles keep finding me when I need them the most. This hit home. I’m a younger entrepreneur (early 30’s) that runs a brick and mortar + online fitness business, and the amount of progress I’ve made there is almost equal and opposite to the problems manifesting in my relationship, lol. I can’t even language how spot on your are with your articles. Thank you, from someone that would love to buy you a cup of coffee and have a chat someday! I’ll pay your rate to pick your brain for 60 mins! LOL!

    -Jason

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