You might be an entrepreneur if…your only source of income over the past three years has come from your wife.
A toast to the spouses of entrepreneurs, we couldn’t do it without them. It’s typical for a male entrepreneur, when asked to give a speech at a business event, to give some token credit to his wife for being supportive, patient, and helpful in general. He may be giving that credit because he’s afraid there will be heck to pay when he gets home if he doesn’t, or because he thinks others will think him ungrateful if he neglects it, or there may be a lot more behind that statement than the casual listener realizes. In my case, when I say I couldn’t have done it without my wife, I do mean that she has been supportive, patient, and helpful in general, but I also mean that I literally could not have done it without her, because she’s been paying the bills for the past three and a half years.
When people ask me how I live without taking a paycheck from my business, I tell them my wife makes a modest income and that’s enough to get by. Some people might take “get by” to mean something more than it is, because they can’t imagine that someone with the letters “CEO” on their business card would be content just getting by, but alas, when I say “get by” I mean “get by.” We have enough money to pay rent on a small studio apartment, make our two car payments, buy the basic necessities as far as food and other groceries, spend $100 per year on clothing apiece, deal with some emergencies, and loan some money to the business to make payroll. Thankfully we haven’t had to dip into our personal account in some time to bail out the business, but we have had to take reimbursements from the business frequently when the business could ill afford it to pay for emergencies our personal accounts couldn’t deal with, such as $5,000 worth of car repairs over the past year and a half (don’t buy Audis).
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if my wife lost her job or got pregnant and quit (in our family getting pregnant means a nine-month deadline for me to start supporting us. My wife has been a day-care licenser for two years and that has been plenty to convince the both of us we will never put our children in day care no matter what, plus I’m not very good at nursing, which we also believe in, so there it is). Then I would have no option but to start getting paid. Maybe that would be a good thing. Desperation is the mother of creativity, so they say, and if we lost my wife’s income that would certainly put us in a desperate position personally. Maybe I would find new ways to make the business bring in more profits.
One good thing about living poor for this many years and requiring so much of my wife is that I know what she’s capable of and how much she’s willing to bear. I also know she didn’t marry me because of my money, because there hasn’t been any. It’s not as though I’ve done all this on purpose just to test her, but the circumstances that have unintentionally come about have been good for both of us as far as our relationship goes. We know how each other will act in stressful situations, and we’ve grown to trust and respect each other more. Frankly I kind of feel sorry for couples who have never roughed it at all because those rough experiences can help you form a closer relationship. But I wouldn’t run out and give away all my money just to get that experience. You’d probably end up having a different experience.Liked it? Share it!