The decision to start a small business is a life-changing one: Is this really the perfect business idea for you?
How will this decision affect your future?
You are usually required to make a significant financial investment and spend an insane amount of your time working hard to keep things on track.
It can also be emotional, and can easily be the most important thing in your world for a long period of time while you get things up and running.
For these reasons and many more, starting a small business can be much like getting hitched. You’ll have to learn many lessons, make compromises, and put up with some rough patches.
Related Article: Best and Worst Places to Start a Business in the U.S.
Here’s what to expect from your first year of marriage OR owning a small business:
1. You’ll Adjust to Your Finances Being Intertwined
When you start a small business or get married, you’ll likely have to make more careful financial decisions and consider how your purchases and investment may affect others. One of the most prominent reasons that small businesses and marriages alike fail is fiscal irresponsibility, but there are ways to prepare yourself.
Tito Phillips, of Naijapreneur.com, suggest that you “look into financial management systems and to classify your expenses into two categories; urgent expenses and important expenses. Your urgent expenses are your recurrent expenses, meaning they are periodic in nature. Your important expenses are your capital expenses; meaning they are not periodic in nature but are necessary for the continuity of the business.”
2. You'll Realize the First Few Years Are the Hardest
Starting a business makes you grow in ways you never thought you would. It can be a blessing and help you find out what you’re made of, but it can also be extremely hard and painful when things get tough, just like a marriage.
Anna Wickham of TheWorldlyBlend.com says, “[being an entrepreneur is] similar to being in a relationship: when you are growing as a person and working with others, there will inevitably be times when you make mistakes and have to apologize for them. It’s all about how you learn from those mistakes and change accordingly.
3. You'll Have to Effectively Communicate
When you start a small business you are not only selling a product or service – you are selling yourself. You need to be able to not only convey your message in a timely way, but you’ll also have to learn to convey your meaning through your body language. This is similar to a relationship in that sometimes it is not as much what you say, but how you say it and what message your non-verbal communication is sending.
As Marie Huntington said in a recent article in The Houston Chronical’s Small Business Section, “Nonverbal cues affect how people understand what you are attempting to communicate, and their reaction corresponds to how you delivered your message. If you are expecting a certain response by the receiver of your message, your nonverbal communication affects their response.”
Related Article: What Is the Best City to Launch a Startup?
4. You’ll Lose Some of Your Independence
When starting a small business, like it or not you must think about data security concerns that you didn’t before, and this means you will have to be more careful about how and where you conduct business. You’ll lose some of your freedom and have to reconsider using the unencrypted WiFi at your local cafe or emailing yourself a password so you don’t forget it. Getting married is similar in that you will inevitably have less “me’ time and have to prioritize in order to maintain balance. Though it may take more time to do things well, it’s worth it in the end.
“Running an online business using the WiFi at your neighborhood coffee shop is a data security disaster waiting to happen. It may seem limiting and like overkill to only work on a secure connection when you’re just starting a business, but in reality this is when you are the easiest target for a hacker,” says Blake Sanders of BroadbandExperts.com.
5. You’ll Have to Learn to Stand Your Ground Confidently
When entering into a marriage or starting a new business venture, there will always be nay-sayers who will call you crazy, criticize your judgment, or try to make you stray from your dreams. They might say you’re being idealistic, that your business idea or future life partner are not right for you, or that you haven’t planned well enough to move forward. In both instances, you’ll have to be prepared to respectfully tell them to keep their opinions to themselves. In the end, this might make them respect you and your business even more, but either way you must stand your ground.
Related Article: Old Dog, New Tricks: What's the Best Age to Start a Business?
“In my experience the stings are the stokes to the fire that keep you going. If you’re pissing people off, it’s a good indicator that you’re doing something right. And, if your response is a sturdy argument for why your idea will work, it will reinforce your determination to prove them wrong,” says Megan Broussard in a recent article on The Muse.
While there are plenty of ways to get sidetracked, fail, and lose faith when starting a small business OR entering a new marriage, there are also plenty of mentors and online resources to help you navigate your journey to lasting success. While it’s amusing to correlate an important event in your business life to an equally important personal event, you can realistically apply many of the lessons you’ll need to learn universally. If you invest in yourself and work your butt off, you’ll likely have a successful marriage AND small business in your future.