Wednesday, May 23, 2012

25 Years of Bliss: Entrepreneurship & Marriage

25 years ago I was married to my best friend. Today, she's still my best friend.  Amazingly, I might actually be hers.

Setting out on your own path, instead of that under the umbrella of a parent organization is not for the feint of heart... and typically, is not done so out of pure design. Often, you strike out on your own because your position — for whatever reason — is no longer your position.

When you're in marketing, you learn to live on the edge - but like wing-suit base jumpers, you can do so without feeling like you might fall to your death.  It helps to have a parachute, but you might still be able to fly high and even land, without killing yourself in the process — especially if you have the support of a loving (and informed) spouse.

I have done this no less than five times.  First as Mike Farley Creative Services. Then as Sniglet (seriously), then as Axis Creative (which later became Emery Farley Associates), Vizid (the bastard child of EFA) and lastly, as JacksonSpencer Innovative Brand Design.  Each one was a success and a failure.  Too many folks see the stats on starts and stops and assume that it was all for naught.  Not so.  I made money at each of these ventures, supported my family, bought homes, sent kids to school and found some time to go on vacation from time-to-time. Failure, in that none of them ever did EXACTLY what I thought they were going to do.

But is that failure? Only if you don't learn from coming up short.

I built one business to 20 employees with two offices in premier locations in major metro markets. My latest set up shop in "Bedford Falls" and run solely, with as many 1099's as I need. Which is the greater success?

Doesn't matter... the key is to take charge of present and future YOU WANT — to trust your own instincts; to know if you actually have what it takes, or whether you don't. And, to simply get after it every single day. 

Ahh - but what about the wedded bliss?

For starters, it takes a woman who has a backbone as strong as your own. Thankfully, my wife is just as strong, patient and determined as I am. She believes in what I do... and what I'm doing — in fact, you could say, WE BELIEVE IN WHAT WE ARE DOING. This is not to say that she hasn't "disagreed" with decisions I have made. The lesson there, is to share with your spouse those pieces of information that truly WILL effect her. The day-to-day stuff isn't so important to share. It's reasonably dull and it lacks trust in each other. But decisions that expand a business or jump into new territory should be carefully explained and reasoned. The sounding board you have in your spouse may provide you with needed push back. You may even change your mind — or your process in determining what's best for you and your family. In the end, you'll know if you're in sync, or if you're out on a ledge.

When I have "gone wrong", it was because I rationalized that it would be better for her if I waited to tell her — kept her in the dark purposefully. This comes back to bite you either way. If you secretly succeeded, she'll wonder why she never knew... and if you fail — you may face a scorn that becomes a grudge for years to come — and the challenge of picking up pieces that can rip a family apart.  (Try telling your kids that you have to move from the house they love, for starters). You get "real" real fast.

I champion running your own business AND life. Follow your dreams, getting on your path, and working like hell to achieve what you want.  Funny thing is, you'll most likely end up somewhere you never imagined, and find that the parachute you lacked was actually your best friend's guiding hand. You'll be glad that you went on this journey together.  Having your spouse truly join you for the ride makes the long nights and hard work all the more special.   

After 25 years - her ship is about to come in!