I have tried on hundreds of different shoes in the entrepreneurial world.
While many people prefer to use hats as an analogy for playing different roles, I like to use shoes as I'm a woman who just loves shoes.
As the spouse of an entrepreneur, I sometimes stuff my feet into shoes that are too small or try to not trip when wearing shoes that are too large. Like the entrepreneur, I play roles that arise from the company's needs and what needs to get done. These roles don't always emanate from my personal skill set.
I have attended more parties, meetings and events than I can count. I've written and edited content for blogs, websites and articles. I've done customer care, planned company parties, bought company gifts and cleaned entire offices, including toilets. My husband would probably tell you I'd rather clean the bathrooms than perform data entry, inputting page after page of data that seemingly never ends.
Some of the roles I've liked the most are the more nurturing ones. I'm trained in massage therapy and have done massages at conference booths.
I have to be willing to mold my preferences, desires and expertise into whatever shoes need filling. At times the shoes hurt. Some look awkward on me while others are comfortable. Still others look really really good on me. Some I must grow into. Whether I sport these shoes for just a season or years, I have been adaptable.
I would advise other spouses of entrepreneurs to become used to changing their shoes a lot. Be adaptable. You may do some tedious work atthe beginning of most of your entrepreneur's adventures. Here are some of my insights from the front lines of being married to a serial entrepreneur.
You will hear the same thing said over and over and over. Part of being an entrepreneur is seeking validation of a product or service idea and you may need to serve as a sounding board many times. Your listening will show how much you care.
2. Be flexible.
You'll fill many roles. Keep rolling (and going) with the blisters as you try on all the different shoes your entrepreneur has you try on.
You'll have the chance to do everything from serving as administrative assistant to host of a big party you can't afford. Being willing to support the entrepreneur in any situation will help your marriage and life become that much more successful.
3. Be patient.
Some days you won't know if the business will work out. Be patient and understand that it may not and that's OK. What's important is knowing that you have each other and that the love between you is stronger than any success or failure could ever be.
4. Suggest ways to relax.
Help your spouse let go and not think about work when he or she doesn't need to be doing tasks. I sometimes force my husband to unplug and make time for himself. If I don't, he burns himself out.
My entrepreneur forgets to eat 24/7. He will work for 24 hours straight without rising from his desk. I manage his meals and make sure that he's always eating healthy stuff. Sometimes this involves my putting the food before him. This means rising a little earlier to be sure there's readily available food sitting by him at his desk before I leave for work.
6. Keep the big picture.
Entrepreneurs can become so focused on the money that's either coming in fast or not as much as they had hoped. Sometimes this can feel like all that the other person cares about. My husband obviously cares about more than just the money, but sometimes I have to be the one to ground him.
I remind him how lucky we are to have each other and our family and a great life with wonderful opportunities. Be the one who is always grounded who can bring the entrepreneur back to this earth when needed.
7. Be conservative.
So that you can feel secure even when the enterprise is not going as planned, be fiscally conservative. I take 20 percent of all the money we make and put it in the bank for the hard times. My entrepreneur can't touch this money, as it's mine to make sure our family will survive even when his business isn't going well.
In sum, I don't promise this entrepreneurship experience will always be glamorous. I definitely don't promise that you'll be able to take off your shoes at 5 p.m. each day.
But I can promise that along the way you'll undoubtely experience extreme gratitude from your entrepreneur. And you will find something worth learning with each pair of shoes you put on. You just have to be willing to try them on.
Related: My Spouse, My Business Partner