Last Monday, A's company's website went live. The response? Stunning. Two hundred Likes in two days. And that's just on Facebook. The encouragement and interest has been amazing to see, and I'm so happy for him. When I shared the site on my own page, I was flooded with congratulations and well wishes. I'd love to accept them all, but the truth is, this one is A's baby. I'm just the Entrepreneur's Wife.
There have been many articles about being married to a start-up founder, and how it affects you. I can't deny any of the points they bring up:
* Life without insurance, literal and otherwise, can be scary. You watch your bank balance go down, and you have a lot of time to think about safety nets and risk. The opportunity cost of sticking to a 'safe' job is far higher than that of taking a calculated risk, but knowing that objectively doesn't always drive away the subjective moments of doubt.
* Any 'auto-pilot' your relationship may have relaxed into will crash and burn. No matter how many years you've been married, or how in love you are, you'll have to really work at it, given that schedules are often changed last minute, and time's a scarce, valuable resource. I simply put dinner out on the table and go to sleep, because I know A will come in at 11:30, eat, and go on to work till 2, before sleeping till 10. Sometimes, it does seem like we're in different time zones.
* Instead of having a whole office full of people to trade notes on and talk about, suddenly you are one of the few people your spouse interacts with. YOU are the idiot they've been dealing with all day, not their manager/colleague/report. In my case, as I've the year off, the reverse is true too. Impatience levels certainly run high - we expect the other person to be perfect, when the truth is, their perfection was especially clear on a relative scale.
That said, there are a few factors which make the whole experience even more worthwhile and easy in our case.
* I do some freelance work for one of A's company's partners, so we invariably go into office together. It's been nearly three years since we worked out of the same space, and doing so just reminds us how our strengths and weaknesses nicely complement each other. We save each other a lot of time by talking business problems through (before you ask - no NDA's apply in this case). And it's always nice eating lunch together, or talking on the way home before it's work, work, work again.
* I'm in the uniquely lucky position of working in the same industry as A. I never wanted to be a start-up partner, but I enjoy helping out with his marketing, and I will absolutely demand a salary when his company starts making money. Until then, it's just nice not to helplessly watch from the sidelines as he powers through this.
* I'm often alone at home while A's out doing field work, or schmoozing. But, (a) I like having the house to myself every now and then to get all the chores out of the way, and (b) he shows up for doctor's appointments and anything important, no matter what. His schedule's his own, in a way that it couldn't have been at even the most flexible job. It pays off, in that he's never once missed a pregnancy related meeting, and sharing the experience with him has been special.
For me, the most rewarding thing about watching A work on his company is seeing how much he's capable of. I eavesdrop on customer calls and marvel at his efficiency and the friendly-formal tone he manages to strike. I read his blog posts and marketing drafts, and am surprised by how much my generally reticent husband can think of to say. He's funnier, smarter, more driven, and more efficient than I could have ever imagined.
Being unconstrained by someone else's rules has unleashed his potential in pretty much every direction, and watching him conquer areas that I know he struggles with has been amazing. I can't begin to describe the pride and happiness I feel in knowing that he isn't just subsisting from one day to the other. That, more than anything, convinces me that this experiment has been successful, no matter where we go from here.
Here's to TruckSumo.com.