Tips For Better Entrepreneur Relationships

In this topic, we are looking at any relationship in our lives be it with a spouse, children, parents, friends, your network or even God. For any relationship to start, blossom and grow it requires our money, energy, time and focus. The very things that your business requires. When these personal resources; money, energy, time and focus are not well managed across the different relationships then that area in your life suffers whether this is only perceived or in reality. It is therefore crucial that you clearly understand the inferred cost of your different relationships.

It is important to understand yourself and that an arrogant attitude about this will not get you very far. Founders are narcissistic in nature and as a result hard to be with. They dream big, will not listen amongst just a few traits that make them good entrepreneurs makes them lousy at relationships and even fail in many ventures. It is this complexity of our natural tendency together with the intricacies of managing relationships that needs to be handled with care for you to be a successful entrepreneur. The sooner one learns this the easier and faster their success comes. Below are a couple of tips to get you started

1. Manage your Emotions: The wide range of emotions an entrepreneur can experience in a couple of days or even a few hours can make one think you are bipolar. It is important to understand that you should expect that there are times your business will be doing well and yet the very next day a change in the market could put your businesss on the edge of closing down. A large deal may be good for you but at the same time will cause a strain on your resources. Not putting this factors into consideration and as a result letting your emotions play ping pong is not only bad for your relationships with your spouse, customers, workers and family but with yourself - eventually your health will be compromised. To handle this:

  • expect changes in your and the business situation
  • put boundaries on what you can do with every deal this can be financial, time or in resource allocation
  • take time to train your staff - this ensures they are able to do their jobs better
  • find interventions that help you relax in the course of your day, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually and stick to them whether or not you are in a stressful situation. In the course of your day, this could be deep breathing, watching a motivational speaker (5min) videos, or even just 5 mins spurts of doing nothing at a quiet spot or sipping a cup of calming tea.

2. Give Attention: to all the relationships that are most important at a particular time in your life. Not all relationships are equally important all the time depending on where you are as an entrepreneur and an individual. This does not mean you are free to take attention completely away from your spouse and other loved ones. It simply means when you realise you need to dedicate more time to your work or a particular relationship that this is clearly communicated and negotiated with all concerned. A husband/wife may understand that you spend more time at work but probably may not be willing to cancel date night or a child, you attending their graduation. You simply have to find ways around this.

3. Increased popularity: as your business grows it is natural that there will be increased popularity and networks. As a rule of thumb do not let these get into your head and make you get your guard down. Stick to the routine you established before the fame and should your work now require more out of you. Find ways to incorporate your spouse or children in it to ensure they still get to spend time with you.

4. Playing off one card against the other: You cannot expect to be extra nice to your customers and trade that with being less nice to your family. For example, many entrepreneurs will pick calls or answer messages from customers within a specific time but will not accord their spouse and loved ones the same courtesy and expect them to 'understand'. With time this will cause a strain in your relationship and if it doesnt, the other party may make adjustments to cope that make you wonder whether they are the person you wanted to be with or not. Expecting others to adjust for you as you choose to do whatever you want will not give you a wholesome life.

5. Reduce decisions you have to make: There are so many decisions an entrepreneur needs to make. One important aspect of a capable business leader is to be able to train, delegate and bring around themselves individuals they can trust to make decisions. You may not do this suddenly but in running your businesss you should put inplace systems that eventually allow you to reduce the decisions you have to make daily.

On a personal level, establishing routines allows you to do this. Getting clothes in colours that will always work for you - the less the merrier, shoe brands that are built comfortable for what you do. All these allow you to focus your attention on more important people and things around you. And they in turn also find it easier to get you the things they know you will love and use.

6. Take a break from business: By this I do not mean holidays as that is already inferred above. There are some of us who will talk about nothing else than business making ourselves quite irritating to be around as we always come out as trying to be smarter than anyone else around. Develop other interests, if not for the sake of the relationships around you at least to ensure you bring in a fresh look to your business perspective and so you can have reasonable conversation with the rest of the world and your loved ones aside from business.

7. Budget: By bootstrapping many entreprrneurs forget to pay themselves and want the family to come along on the bootstrap ride. While you may have family that understands, this cannot always be how you relate with them. Ensure you have a regular salary, and aside from that don't be mean. Just as you allocate bonuses to the rest of your staff when they do well, include yourself in that structure. This ensures you do not overspend but are also not mean to yourself and those around you.

8. Listen: This may come as a surprise to young founders but guess what? You do not know it all and no entrepreneur does even when they are experts in an industry. Markets change, customers change and one reason business is often speculative is because no one knows all the factors that will result to success till it happens. This knowledge causes many successful entrepreneurs to be humble and hungry. They listen and create a team around them they can listen to and who can get the right information. They have personal relationships in which they are known to be listeners. Listening is a key skill you need to force yourself to develop as it is not a natural tendency for entrepreneurs.

9. Develop your social skills: while many entrepreenurs act as loud out going social types. The reality is many have zero social skills and away from the networking events are actually loners. It takes time to think through good business ideas and work out how to implement them successfully. However, you need to develop good social skills to be able to manage and grow your relationships be they personal or business. Learn from those around you who are better in their social skills, read on the topic e.g. How to win friends and influence people, and do take time to implement what you learn.

10. Have boundaries: Living without boundaries creates awkwardness in how people relate with you and strain your relationships. Make it clear what is expected of your staff and in your relationships, be clear about what you can do and what you expect. Be willing to negotiate with your loved ones on expectations. You cannot order people around to your every whim or they would be 'sitted standing.' All said clarity is key.

There is also need to create boundaries on how many hours you work and under what instances you would work longer. This too should be communicated and if it affects time that would have been spent with loved ones, do not just assume they should 'understand'. Whether they do or not make a plan to make it up to them. This may not be commensurate with the sacrifice but it is the thought that counts.

Trust this helps you as an entrepreneur build a wholesome life around your business. Leave  your comments below and lets keep the conversation going.


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