Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Spouses Guide to Surviving a Start-Up

I feel fully qualified to write this guide now, as S is now in his 5th Start-Up in 11 years :)  He has never worked for a company that was not a Start-Up, even the company he worked for in high school/college was one :) This current Start up is the second where he is one of the founders but regardless, each one has been a big risk.  S loves the risk, it is what makes it fun and exciting for him.  Working at Start Ups is to my husband what sky diving, gambling or drugs might be to other is his HIGH. 

So how does a girl who grew up with a daddy who worked for the same company for 26 years and was usually home by 5:30 pm (he had a 10 minute commute) survive the instability and roller coaster ride that is the typical Start-Up??  How do we survive the long hours, the 3-4 hour daily commute and the fact that when daddy is home he is tied to his iphone and laptop??  I am not going to lie to you, it is not easy but I continue to learn on the job how to make it work.

In preparing for this post, I googled "Start-Up Wives" and found a support group for spouses of Start-Ups :)  I had no idea that such a thing existed, I excitedly went in and checked it out but it seems to be a ghost town.  Oh well...I did find a few other blog posts about the topic that I will read but in the meantime here are some things that we do to make life a little easier on all of us :)

1.  Schedule Family Time

This has been crucial for us, especially with small children.  Z and Lil' C miss their daddy so much and so anytime that they get with him is precious.  We have a rule that there are no computers/iphones allowed in their sight.  When daddy is with them, he needs to be with them 100%.

2.  Have A Family Daily Schedule

Our family schedule is very similar each day except as Z would say, "Saturday and Sunday mean that Daddy works from home!"   S's schedule is all over the place and the kids really don't know when and where they are going to see their daddy.  Because of this it has been so important for Z and Lil' C to be able to rely on their routine. 

3.  IChat or Skype

S usually is gone in the morning before the kids wake up and comes home long after they are in bed.  IChat has been a Godsend for us because it allows Z and Lil' C to see their daddy and tell him about their day.  They love being "face to face" and it really is a special time for all of us right after dinner :) 

4.  Involve Kids in Spouse's Work

S is working on an Iphone game and we have found that showing Z all that he is working on and now having Z "test" the game has really helped him to understand why Daddy is working so much.  S is very good about explaining all that he does in language that Z can understand and we are planning a visit to his office (although we have seen it on IChat) later this month.  

5.  Schedule Couple Time

This has been really important to us during this time.  We rarely spend anytime together during the week (other than dueling laptops) and so we have tried to plan one night out and one night in a month.  We also try to put aside some time each day to chat (sometimes on the phone or IChat, sometimes in person).  This is a stressful time for us and unfortunately we take out our frustrations on each other.  This date time allows us to escape, reconnect and just have fun!

6. Find a Strong Support Network

I am blessed to have a strong network of family and friends.  My dad comes in the evenings once a week to play with the kids, we have lots of playdates, my SIL came for a few days to distract the kids...we are very fortunate.  This network doesn't always understand why S gave up the opportunity to take a secure Big Company job for this venture but as they start to see the product and try it out, they too are getting excited.  This whole venture is very difficult for my dad to understand and he is always coming at me with a lot of questions (I think he is afraid we will be living with him if this doesn't work out) but I try to reassure him that we are going to be okay :)

7.  Live on a Strict Budget

This is just common sense for all.  I understand that no job is truly secure but when the breadwinner works for a never know if or when that next round of funding will come in.  This means that you always need to be saving for a "rainy" day.  We saved like crazy for the stage that we are in and now we need to make sure that we are very frugal so that we can run as long as possible :)

8. Have a Clean House

Our home use to be a stressful place filled with clutter.  Thanks to a lot of hard work and simplifying, S can now come home to a house which is much more at peace.  Having a clean house helps to decrease his stress level and thus ours.  It is a lot of hard work to keep things clean and orderly but it is the least I can do with all that he is doing to try to make this business work!

9.  Remember to LAUGH

One of my favorite sounds in the world is to hear S belly laugh :)  I try to bring the sillies out in him whenever I can, it is healthy to laugh after all.  We laugh with the kids, at silly sitcoms on TV, movies....wherever we can find laughs.  

10.  Plan Mini Vacations

S is a walking Zombie right now.  Throughout his career he has had many periods of "Zombie Time" and we have planned mini vacations to help recharge him and keep him going.  This vacation need not be far away or expensive, just a chance to escape and not work for awhile.  We are hoping to plan one as soon as his company gets funded.  Keep your fingers crossed, this Momma needs a night away!!!!

11. Learn some Cheerleading Skills

Thank goodness my best friend was a URI cheerleader because I have learned so much from her :)  The truth is that I am S's biggest fan and cheerleader.  I try so hard to remain positive, upbeat and make sure that I tell him often how proud I am of him and what he is doing.  I am his sounding board, help him make simple decisions when he is too tired to function and cheer him on when he is blue.  This role is not always easy but it is crucial to helping him get through this crazy time.


Connie said...

This is the perfect guide!

We are doing many of these things except for the iPhone/iPad/Computer's put away thing. They are always out!

Good Luck with the funding!

Mom said...

Your mom doesn't mind if you move in, but we both really want this to get up and moving so you and S can relax. We don't mind filling in for S, but the kids would much rather see Daddy than ChiChi and/or Neene.
We are so proud of S's dedication and his incredible mind. We are so proud of how you have been there to make his journey as easy as possible and keep the kids as happy as they are. I know all of your sacrifices will pay off.
You know we are all here whenever needed.
Love ya all!

Anonymous said...

I am blessed to have such a great and supportive wife!



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