Most entrepreneurs, while surrounded by people, walk a lonely road. However, this Valentine’s Day, spare a thought for the wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, parents and children of entrepreneurs, who often live with even greater degrees of isolation and uncertainly — without the lime-light.
Running your own show can be a damn lonely place to be. The buck stops with you. Leading from the front is exhilarating but at times scary as well.
Over the course of the last few years I can point to a number of occasions when I have wanted to curl up in a foetal position and cry. I have been on a rollercoaster, and there have been great successes as well as a number of real “yikes!” moments.
Who do you turn to at these times?
My friends are all supportive, but they have their own issues and concerns. My parents are still getting over the fact that I left McKinsey to sell magazines (their definition, not mine).
So, my wife bears the brunt of it. I try to downplay the inevitable entrepreneurial lows, but she’s no fool. Although we rarely, if ever, talk business (I doubt she even knows where to find my blog), she does however read me like a book.
It only recently occurred to me, however, just what a raw deal she gets.
When things are great, I get to revel in my success and enjoy the pats on the back and the thrill of achievement. She doesn’t. When things are bad, I come home, try to gloss over it, and she imagines the worst.
In true entrepreneurial fashion, I then get over it and throw myself into turning bad into good, but she doesn’t get the therapeutic benefit of taking positive steps to change something. The entrepreneurial struggle is my medicine.
How easy it is to forget that she too lives the ups and downs of my journey, but with no painkillers.
Yes, being an entrepreneur can be lonely, but we still have a community of peers with whom we can share our experiences.
Can our partners talk about our failures with their support network and how they worry whether we will now be able to pay next month’s rent? And when things are up, can they talk about how amazing we are doing and what rock stars we are?
I reckon that being the “significant other” of an entrepreneur is probably far lonelier than being the actual entrepreneur. Well, it is in my particular circumstances.
So, while I frankly don’t give a damn about Valentine’s Day (ok — it is good for the business of selling magazine subscriptions!), this year I am using it as an excuse to remember just how hard the rollercoaster is for Sara and thanking her for staying on it with me.
If you have someone who helps maintain your sanity through the ups and downs, this Valentine ’s Day is the perfect opportunity to let them see your appreciation of the vicarious journey they are on.
Ed’s Note: If you feel like leaving a message for an often-overlooked loved one, we invite you to leave a comment below. It might not be as romantic as roses. But if they ‘get you’, it will be just as meaningful. Well… maybe. And you could probably do with the brownie-points!
This article was first published on the Anthill website in February 2010. Sahil Merchant is founder of mag nation. Follow him on twitter: @sahilmerchant. His launch post on Anthill can be found here.