If you have ever been in a relationship with someone who is an entrepreneur, then you know it can have its fair share of ups and downs. Although most relationships do, there is something unique about those ups and downs when it comes to being with an entrepreneur. We were able to catch up with Misha Granado, an alumnae of Florida A&M University and Prairie View A&M University, who is herself and entrepreneur through her company Love Grows, a relationship consulting firm, to discuss what all comes with loving and living a life with an entrepreneur.
A relationship with an entrepreneur is not for everyone, what “warning” label would you put on entrepreneurs for those considering dating or getting into a relationship with one?
As an entrepreneur you are the only one who truly knows yours schedule, goals and needs for both your professional and personal life. It is imperative to be extremely clear on who you are and the characteristics and qualities that compliment and constrict both you and your goals. Reflect on your previous relationships (historical markers) to identify what does and does not work for you. Also, it is important to be honest with yourself about where you are on your journey.
If you are interested in a relationship, ask yourself, “What type of partner complements me?
- A fellow entrepreneur? If so, what type of entrepreneur? Someone at the beginning stages (idea)? Growing? Established?
- An entrepreneur who also has a corporate gig?
- Someone with a demanding corporate career requiring significant time and dedication outside of the house?
- Someone with a career with a traditional schedule (M-F) but has an active personal life who is self-sufficient?
- Someone who is artsy and a free spirit who does not require much ‘hand-holding’ from you?
- Someone with traditional relationship expectations?
Do you have the resources (time, energy, emotional and mental bandwidth) to co-create and co-nurture a relationship or is a social, casual dynamic more feasible? There is no universal right or wrong answer, only the only right for you. Once you are clear on who you are and your needs have honest, unapologetic conversations with potential partners.
All entrepreneurs are not the same, but what are some baseline ways you believe spouses and significant others can be supportive to their entrepreneur partner?
Significant others and spouses can be supportive to their entrepreneur partner by:
- Holding the vision of the overall goal(s) – Being an entrepreneur is not easy and there will be many moments where the stress, loses, delays, frustration, fear, anger, despair, panic, etc obscure the vision of your entrepreneur spouse. Having the skill and ability to hold the vision for him/her at all times, but especially in these moments are key. Remind them of their why, the reason they embarked on this journey and all of the ways they will succeed.
- Informative – Are you knowledgeable about their entrepreneurial endeavors? You do not need to be an expert in the field but showing real interest is very supportive. By having a bit of knowledge of the industry, goals, challenges coupled with knowing your spouse you become a wonderful asset because you can help with troubleshooting, be an empathetic ear, strategize and/or provide support. Of course this varies per entrepreneur. However, some entrepreneurs desire a ‘mental break’ from their work and prefer not to speak business with their spouse, which is okay as well. Knowing your s/o and what they need is another way to be informative.
- Patient – The entrepreneur life does not follow the trajectory of other fields nor does it provide the ‘comfort and safety.’ On this journey income may vary significantly depending on project, climate, acquisition of clients, etc. Traditional hours do not exist. Sacrifices are the norm. Questioning self seems to be scheduled on the calendar daily. Therefore a s/o who is patient is a welcomed reprieve. Patience varies for each couple.
What are some common issues you see that arise between spouses and entrepreneurs in relationships? How do you believe couples can get ahead of them or best deal with them?
One of the most common issues between spouses and entrepreneurs is unspoken expectations. Each partner has expectations in their head for the other but has never articulated it to each other. As a result, needs go unmet and resentment silently builds meanwhile the partner is oblivious. It is similar to your employer setting goals for you without telling you only for you to discover you did not meet these benchmarks during your annual review. Unspoken expectations are a set up for failure. This is unfair.
The best tool for any relationship is transparency, vulnerability and honesty. For both partners to articulate to each other their expectations, needs and areas where they desire more support. If you do not feel emotionally safe to be vulnerable with your significant other, seek therapy to identify the barriers that serve as a hindrance and gain the tools and healing needed to overcome this barrier.
An entrepreneur sees the world in a very different way than most people. What are the ways spouses can impact how an entrepreneur sees the world?
The relationship one has with self, determines and influences all relationships in their life. In a partnership, especially a romantic relationship due to the intimacy of the space, both parties have the ability to impact each other in a negative or positive manner and this can influence the way partners view self and the world. This is such a delicate space because of the direct access to the heart and mind. A spouse who has unmet/unspoken expectations, resentment, frustrations, etc will knowingly or unknowingly begin to engage in behavior (i.e. passive aggressive, argumentative, petty) that constricts both their partner and the relationship. This behavior increases the entrepreneur’s stress level impacting business, creativity, productivity etc. Whereas, a spouse who is happy with self, articulates their needs and wants, feels fulfilled, supported, loved will demonstrate behaviors (i.e. encouragement, support, joy, happiness, consideration, patience, kindness, etc.) that complement the relationship and their partner. The latter has the ability to change perspectives. When we feel seen, heard and validated we feel inspired, energized and creative all of which are excellent for business.
Women entrepreneurs have an even tougher road ahead of them typically. So for the men/women/partners who love them, what advice would you give specifically to the support and love that will be needed?
Whether it is the entrepreneurial, corporate, artistic or the academic route, unfortunately women are not treated equitably. This adds another layer of stress to the already taxing entrepreneur life. As the partner behind the scenes supporting a woman entrepreneur, perhaps the best way you can support her is by knowing her, implementing and executing what she needs when you know she is stressed, excited, hopeful, disappointed, etc. If you do not know what she needs during these various spaces, ask her directly (when she is not in it). For example:
- How can I support you when you are scared?
- What can I do when you are stressed?
- How do you like to celebrate your wins?
- What would make your daily routine run smoothly?
- How can I support your business?
When she needs/wants to vent about something before she begins ask: What do you need from me in this moment? A sympathetic ear? To help strategize a solution? To serve as your hype man? Knowing which role she needs from you is important, because she does not always need you to fix it. Sometimes she just needs to vent to effectively move that stagnant energy through her. Other times she just wants you to listen and validate her feelings.
A relationship is not all about the entrepreneur and in that respect reciprocation is important. How can entrepreneurs, who are often demanding a lot of their significant other/spouse, ensure that they themselves are being good partners?
Make your significant other a priority. The business will always be there. There is always something to do. You can always fill each minute with something for the business. Place weekly dates on the calendar and be fully present. Inquire about your significant other and their life and developments. This is a no business/dumping zone, instead it is a place to renew, restore and reciprocate all of the love and support your partner has and continues to give to you. Invest in your partner as well. Show up for your partner and be fully present. If you are attending an event as his/her/their date, be engaging, light, and attentive. Implement a cut off time where you disconnect from gadgets and connect with each other. This is also applicable if children are involved. Time is one of your most precious commodities; invest it intentionally with your loved ones.
How can relationship counseling help a spouse and entrepreneur keep a happy and loving relationship?
Therapy always begins with the individual even if you are in a partnership. This is because individuals bring everything with them into the relationship (experiences, values, culture, perspective, emotional wounds, isms, insecurities, fears, family dynamics, beliefs, etc.) and all of these influences and determines the quality of the partnership. Now add the stress of an entrepreneurial journey to the equation and there is plenty of material here for therapy *wink*.
The benefit of therapy is having an objective person who provides a safe space for both parties to explore their emotions, identify expectations, stressors, goals and tools to address each. Therapy allows each person to speak, be heard, seen and validated. Also, therapy provides strategies; tools and techniques the couple can implement to help cultivate a relationship that is nurturing for both parties. Additionally, therapy provides different perspectives which are extremely beneficial in those times where a couple cannot agree. This alternative option may be the very catalyst to re-establishing or establishing a healthy relationship baseline.
You can follow and contact Ms. Granado:
Twitter & Instagram: @lovegrows_misha