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Spouse of business owner an important……….

A small business is essentially a family operation, especially during the first few critical formation years. For whatever reason the business was started, it will have a major impact on the family. The two main areas of concern are financial and family relationships.I know of very few new businesses that have not begun their existence without a lot of anxiety. It’s a new direction without the comfort of a pay check coming in twice a month. Starting a new business and during the first two to three years of operation, it becomes the focal point of everything that happens both at the business and the family level. The forty hour work week becomes a thing of the past, replaced by a 60 to 80 hour work week.

The many hidden aspects of growing a business are discovered almost on a daily basis. There are no answers, and trial and error becomes the teacher. Sales don’t happen overnight, as hoped for, and precious resources are spread thin, both at the business and family level. If there was a workable plan, and unfortunately the majority of businesses operate without a one, it is put aside and the frantic survival mode takes over……..

I could go on and share a lot of horror stories, but my purpose is to provide a solution. This is best shared by means of a story. A friend asked his neighbor, who was in his second year of a new business, to meet with me because he was concerned about him. The neighbor was reluctant but finally agreed to a visit. I went to his office which had a reception area, his office and a large store room.

As I normally do, I shared my story and then asked him to do likewise. It was like turning on a fountain and losing the shut off valve. His reserves were almost gone; the business wasn’t growing as fast as he anticipated. The family was on a very tight budget and family relations were strained. I sat with him for two hours. The first hour was listening, and then I asked pertinent questions to get an idea of his actual business position. The basic business premise was good and with some organization in the way of a business and a marketing plan, I felt that the business had a good chance of surviving and growing. He felt relieved and was anxious to get started. I told him that our first step was to have an overview meeting with him and his spouse; we would need full family support to make this into a successful and profitable business.

At our “family” business meeting, his wife was pleased to be included and had no idea of what was required to grow a business. She had not been given any details, good or bad, about the first year of the business life. We included her in the budget process for the business because the “home” expenses had to be covered and thus were an integral part. Although she was not part of the business and marketing plan development, we met with her to give her the time line we created and income forecast. The story has a happy ending, although it hasn’t really ended. We are now finishing our third year working  together: the business is profitable with a six month reserve in the bank, a lot less stress on the owner and a happy family.

This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy.   Kerry Gleeson

Call Nick today to get back on track with your business.  Nick J. Petra CFP

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