There are several commonalities between managing a business and managing a relationship. Both take your time and attention. Both require a good amount of effort and consideration, taking up your thoughts and focus.
The greatest difference is that while relationships take less effort in the beginning and take more time to maintain once the relationship matures, businesses tend to require more energy and focus during the earlier stages and then less work and lighter maintenance once things are organized properly. This would make one think that the two are entirely compatible and can be taken on simultaneously. Yet, I’m not quite sure this is the case.
Looking at each individually, you can easily point out the pros and cons of both. Both can be the catalyst for your happiness — a happiness unlike you’ve ever before experienced. Likewise, both can be the catalyst for your misery — such misery that you didn’t know existed. When taken on separately, there is little risk of total mental breakdown if things go south.
However, when combined, the results vary from total bliss to suicidal horridness. If things are going well in both your business and your relationship... then great — the world is your oyster. But if your business begins to struggle and you begin to have problems in your relationship, you can quickly find yourself in a very dark place.
My philosophy on the subject is actually quite simple and straightforward. First and foremost: you need to prioritize. While both love and success of your business are worth dedicating your life to, you need to understand the nature of both before you choose one versus the other. What we can all agree on is that while success can be forced, love cannot. We can work towards building an empire and dedicate our lives to the cause, but we can’t work towards falling in love; that’s why they call it ‘falling’ in love.
You don’t fall into success — you create it. But you don’t have complete control over whom you fall in love with and how long that love will last. Love is the most beautiful thing in the world because it’s nature is that of elusiveness and fragility. You may want to find it, but there is no process that one can follow that will even nearly guarantee falling in love. You can only live your life and hope that things ‘fall’ into place.
Business, on the other hand — or any passion/obsession that you dedicate your life to — requires a constant effort. You don’t fall into business; you build a business. Being an entrepreneur is a choice that you can make in an instant. It’s a choice that you have complete control over and that you can guarantee to last as long as you are smart about the process and are unwilling to take failure as the final result.
For this reason, I urge everyone who dreams of being an entrepreneur to put the thought of love on the backburner. If you're already in love then congratulations — don’t let it go because it’s very difficult to come by. If you are in love then you have no choice but to juggle the two loves: love for your partner and love for your business.
If you are single and haven’t been able to find love, then put it out of your thoughts and focus on creating a healthy business. If you’re lucky then you’ll find love once you have already established your company in the market and can spend more time on yourself and your love life.
The problem is that the majority of people don’t juggle relationships with their business because they are in love, but because they are trying to find love. They are dating, taking up time and energy for a lost cause. Dating is only worthwhile if you think that there’s a chance that you may fall for the person you are spending time with. If this isn’t the case then all you are doing is setting yourself up for huge failure.
Relationships get messy real quick and if the timing happens to coincide with hard times in your entrepreneurial endeavors then you will come to one horrible realization: that your life, at the moment, completely and entirely sucks. When nothing is going right then it feels as if your world is crumbling from underneath your feet. It’s not a pleasant experience. Sometimes there is no way around it. Sometimes we find ourselves in love with a person while we are in love with our new, growing business.
But most of the time we find ourselves hung up on a man or woman we never planned on keeping around and find that we allocated so much time and thought on to them that our company is about to roll off a cliff. Juggling a business and a relationship isn’t easy and should be avoided if possible. If you can dump him or her without feeling like you’ve torn your heart apart, then do so — you wouldn’t have ever worked out anyway.
If you can focus on work then do so. Business is better tackled at a younger age while relationships at an older age — when you are more emotionally mature. Be smart about it and you really can have it all.
Photo credit: Wolf Of Wall St/Paramount Pictures