Whenever I sit down with a soon-to-be startup founder or a prospective employee at my startup, I always ask one fundamental question:
“Is your spouse cool with what you’re about to do?”
In my book, it’s all that matters. Having the support of your spouse can make or break an entrepreneur or anyone working in the startup world.
Or, said differently, not having their support is a recipe for disaster.
You Can’t Fight Two Wars
Working at a startup is a grind that takes every ounce of your energy to create something from nothing. If you come home with even an ounce of energy to spare, it’s a gift.
So, if you walk through the door at home, and you’re presented with an entirely new war to fight, it sucks.
No one has enough energy to fight one battle during the day and another at night. You can’t fight two wars, and given enough time, those wars will destroy you.
Understanding Is Hard
Often the problem is that spouses don’t understand what you’re doing – and why would they?
You’re basically coming home saying “I’m going to quit my regular job to go on an adventure with little or no pay, work twice the hours, with no guaranteed payback – ever.”
If they sound confused and un-supportive, it’s because on the surface what you’re doing makes no sense. Therefore, it’s your job to make sure they understand why you’re doing this at a very detailed, emotional level. Because beyond that, the rest does sound completely crazy.
Your Spouse Is Your Lifeline
Very little about growing a startup involves certainty and reassurance. It’s riddled with doubt nearly every day.
That’s why having a spouse that absolutely supports what you do is a lifeline to sanity; someone to remind you that you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh dammit people like you.
Having that support is incredible. It helps you reload day after day, when everything else is depleting your physical, mental, and emotion stores. It’s your happy place you can rely on every day, to regather your strength and come back fighting.
It’s like having an emotional venture capitalist that will back you each and every day when you need that capital the most.
And for that reason, it’s the only backer that truly matters.
This post originally appeared on the Forbes blog.
Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes Bizplan, Clarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.