Our startup is making a bit of cash but no living yet, so I’m working day (normal 9-to-5) and night (startup). Had the “you’re working too hard” discussion with my husband. Don’t know what to tell him.

  • Been there… I first worked 9 to 5 in my past corporate job while working nights and week-ends on coding my product, before startup creation. At this time, my wife couldn’t help me for startup job. But she did everything else: taking care of kids, cooking, laundry, absolutely all home chores so that I could work 60h a week for the startup, above the “normal” corporate job (which I was doing honestly).

    Now I quit my corporate job and the startup is up and running. She is my co-founder, and she now works full time with me. Right now, there is lot of work for her, I insist it is not a fake job for CEO’s wife. But at the beginning, when it was only coding stuff she’s not skilled for, her help gave me the necessary time to build the product. Without her doing all home and children caring, I couldn’t create it. So, we shared startup equity as if her time spent “delivering” me from this had the same value than product coding.

    Your situation may be very different, but you could explore this idea. Your husband certainly helps you now, and this help could be recognised by shares in your startup. I know it’s a strange idea for a founder. But if you felt alone and helpless because your husband were building a startup, you would need to feel really involved in it to accept the situation on the long run.

    Now we have some traction and good perspectives, and we can share this success together. I think if she were not my co-founder, she would only remember the hard times and would not appreciate talking about “my” successes. To be clear, without this fair but unusual arrangement, I’m convinced we could have divorced…

  • Tell him he’s more than welcome to earn more and foot the bills while you work?

    I’m unsure what you’re getting at. He does understand that the startup is your passion, correct?

  • As a founder of a rapidly growing SaaS company, I can tell you this discussion doesn’t just happen when you’re working two jobs. The reality of being a founder is that even if the hours get better, the mental attachment doesn’t (or if it does, I’m not there yet). As a result, even if your present physically you may not be present mentally.

    I look at the “you’re working too hard” comment as a reflection of something deeper. Generally, this translates into – “I’m feeling neglected.” Yes, having an understanding partner makes a world of difference, but even the most understanding of partners still need attention. I’d have that discussion – a balance of the tough reality, e.g. “we may not have fully realized it at the time, but building a company is an all-in endeavor and I’m doing this to make something of myself and of us. Your support is essential” as well as the understanding side of things “tell me, given my constraints, how I can be a better partner to you.”

    It’s important you figure this stuff out. Most startups aren’t quick flips – you’re going to have to have the stamina to get through this and your partner can make your world significantly better or worse depending on their outlook on your endeavor.

    Good luck!

  • Yessss. He doesn’t get that “relaxing” isn’t relaxing to me. I have to get the things rattling around in my mind out on paper or on a screen. I can’t imagine being any other way. I think he didn’t like it because he thought it made him look lazy. I believe he is coming to understand that’s just how I have to live.

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