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Surviving the Entrepreneurial Life

Mark Marich

A new series released by Kauffman Founders School tackles the issue of work-life balance with insights from Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, an columnist and author of the award-winning book For Better or For Work: A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families which draws on her experiences when she was helping her husband build his company and on her hundreds of interviews with entrepreneurs and their families.

Hirshberg delves into the delicate interplay between work and personal life and the numerous stress points that can undermine relationships. 

The Surviving the Entrepreneurial Life curriculum offers practical advice on how entrepreneurs can run their businesses without alienating their families, including:

  • The entrepreneur and spouse should talk about the risks and opportunities of a startup before the company launches.
  • Once the business is underway, the entrepreneur and spouse need to decide together how much and what kinds of information the spouse wants to be told about the business.
  • Entrepreneurs must devise strategies to balance the competing demands of work and family. Besides attending the recitals and soccer games, the entrepreneur should  reserve unstructured "hangout" time with his or her children.
  • Couples in which one spouse is an entrepreneur and the other spouse is working a job to support the family and/or the business face distinct pressures. A working spouse's financial contribution to the entrepreneur's business should be viewed as an investment.
  • Empathy is especially crucial for an entrepreneurial family. The spouse needs to understand that the entrepreneur has to be "all in," and the entrepreneur needs to understand that the race toward business success may seem like a "lonely marathon" to the spouse.
  • Even though entrepreneurship demands intense dedication, entrepreneurs shouldn't get so wrapped up in the business that they forego vacations or indefinitely postpone important life goals such as marriage and starting a family. 

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