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HomeCareerQ&A | Should I support my husband’s struggling business?

Q&A | Should I support my husband’s struggling business?

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A couple of weeks ago, a woman named Reesa Teesa became internet famous after she created a viral TikTok series called “Who TF Did I Marry?”.

Reesa recorded over 50 videos to tell the story of her marriage to a man she called “Legion” and the increasingly wild things she learned about him after they split and shared some hard-won lessons about relationship red flags and knowing when to throw in the towel.

Now, I confess that I didn’t have 7 hours to watch it, but millions of people were glued to their screens vicariously reliving their own relationship traumas in real-time. She unwittingly became the patron saint of messy divorcées everywhere and, like clockwork, brands came knocking to work with her as her follower count skyrocketed. 

I can’t exactly relate, but I think her story shows how powerful self-disclosure can be, for better or worse. By baring her flawed relationship soul for all to see, she sparked conversations about the realities of modern marriage and what it means to really know your partner.

And hearing about her experience got me thinking about my own relationship and the things I still don’t fully understand about my husband, even after all this time.

Here’s an example. Two weekends ago, we hosted our nieces for a sleepover. They love puzzles so we pulled out the Rubik’s Cube that Beau got for Christmas and just left it lying around the living room. For two straight days, we watched all the kids pick it up, twist it around for a few minutes, and then put it back down unsolved. Over and over – the picking it up, the twisting, and the putting it back.

Later that night, Julien and I were debriefing about our temporary experiment as “parents of 3” and I start fidgeting with the cube. He’s riffing on what the kids’ fixation might mean and decides to land his point with this random rhetorical question “How do you think you would feel if you were a Rubik’s Cube?”

If you know me, you know there’s something about completing another person’s sentence that I will never not find delightful and disturbing at the same time. So naturally, I paused until I knew what he was going to say. I even made eye contact in that silent way couples do when they’re on a mind-meld wavelength to make sure I had it right. The timing matters in these situations, so I go ahead and blurt out my/our answer: “touched out!” 

And at the exact same time, he blurts out his: “misunderstood!” 

Q&A | Should I support my husband’s struggling business?

 🤣 We both cracked up, like…who TF did I marry??

It was one of those little moments that reminded me: no matter how long you’ve been together, no matter how entwined your lives, there’s always a kernel of mystery between two people. Our relationship is comfortable and deep, yes, but it still constantly surprises me in small, goofy ways.

These days, I get asked a lot about how we “do it” as a married couple running businesses together. Typically when someone poses that question, my initial reaction is hesitation. Every relationship is different and entrepreneurial partnerships add layers of complexity. The honest, simple answer is: I really don’t know.

What works for us may not translate to someone else’s dynamic and I worry that if I give advice, I may overgeneralize or overstep a boundary. After all, what makes me qualified to speak to the infinite variety of experiences out there when our journey is just one of millions?

But then a question like the one we answered in this week’s podcast lands in our inbox, and I’m reminded: oh right, this weird niche lifestyle is way more common than you’d think.

The statistics are pretty eye-opening: according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 43% of small businesses are family-run. Of those, 53% have spouses sharing day-to-day management responsibilities.

Let that sink in: nearly half of all small business owners in America are performing this delicate ballet between home and hustle daily. Those numbers demonstrate just how common – and important – family businesses are to our economy.

You’d think with numbers like that, the internet would be flooded with plenty of resources to turn to – advice columns, memoirs, TED talks unpacking the nuances of this very specific work/life entanglement. But no – a cursory search reveals very little beyond bland advice like “setting boundaries,” “maintaining balance,” and other tidy prescriptions that fail to acknowledge just how knotty this particular undertaking can be.

As quaint and American-as-apple-pie as the mom-and-pop shop may seem, a peek behind the curtain would reveal a pressure cooker of financial anxieties, sleep deprivation, and recurring fantasies about fleeing everything for the relative ease of middle management.

Entrepreneurship is already a psychological marathon, but when your boo is also your business partner, it can become a real-life soap opera where the stakes are the roof over your head and the ring on your finger. The lack of useful advice speaks volumes about our desperation to cling to uncomplicated myths about work/life balance.

Don’t get me wrong. While the challenges of a family enterprise are real, I’m a firm believer in their value. Not only is business ownership a proven and reliable way to close wealth gaps in individual households, but the SBA is celebrating its third consecutive year of record numbers of small business applications.

If this is the norm, then where are the juicy tales from the trenches? Where are the nitty-gritty details of what it’s really like when your living room is your boardroom? The true stories that capture the grit it takes to keep the lights on and the marriage intact?

No two stories are identical, but the numbers suggest we’re hardly alone in juggling marriage and business under one roof without an emotional roadmap. Maybe sharing our perspective can offer another data point to those trying to find their way.

That brings me to this week’s podcast about entrepreneurship, love, and how to know when it’s time to throw in the towel. A listener wrote in about the trucking business her husband started a few months ago that’s losing money. He wants to toss more money at the problem and take on more debt to keep building. She wants to cut the losses, get a side gig, and use the money to stop the bleeding. It’s the kind of impossible dilemma anyone who’s ever run their own small operation knows all too intimately.

Our advice touches on financial realities – things like calculating your runway, building up a cash cushion, and understanding the difference between personal and business credit cards (spoiler alert: mixing the two can land you in a world of hurt). But we also talk about the less tangible aspects, like having the right support system and cultivating resilience. 

Running a company with your spouse isn’t for the faint of heart but small, family-run businesses are the backbone of our economy and communities. For those willing to weather ups and downs together, a family business can be deeply fulfilling in ways a solo venture never could. I have the utmost respect for folks bold enough to take that on and I would love to see more of their stories positioned as something other than just another cautionary tale.

The post Q&A | Should I support my husband’s struggling business? appeared first on rich & REGULAR.

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