I spend most days working across the table or down the hall from my husband, who happens to be my co-founder in a data-driven tech startup.
This month, the company we founded together at the beginning of our marriage is being re-engineered. We’re in beta-launch mode. Previously, we only worked with enterprise-level clients. But now, we’ll be offering a new social login solution aimed at a much wider market.
My husband and I have been working in the startup space together for almost 10 years and this is our second go at it. The advantage of working together as co-founders is that we both understand the challenges of running a startup. It’s easier to put in long hours and tag each other in and out of personal life as needed.
That’s not to say it hasn’t been a rollercoaster! Here are three of the many lessons we’ve learned while mixing marriage and ambition in the tech space…for those who might dare to try it.
1. My first piece of advice is simple. For any company founder, know that mistakes will be made.
Accepting this as a couple, we’ve learned to trust each other more. We’ve learned our own decision-making process and worked out together why something feels right, or doesn’t. In both business and life, we’ve made choices that others may not understand, knowing they’re the ones that meet all our goals.
Know that mistakes will be made
2. My second piece of advice is practical. Go out and buy yourself a new bed.
For sleep. Your sleep is going to change radically, yet a good night’s sleep is probably the glue holding your relationship together. You’ll come to know several new sleep-types:
- Exhausted Sleep (sleeping in your clothes next to a bowl of cold noodles)
- Nerve-Wracking Sleep (toss, turn, how will I pay my team’s salary next week, toss, turn — repeat all night long)
- Angry Sleep (what a jackass that guy was today)
- Depressed Sleep (will this ever get any better)
- Excited Sleep (I hope I don’t mess up my pitch tomorrow)
- Some normal sleep (if you’re lucky)
Through all of this you need to arm yourself with the best tools — I promise the bed will help.
Go out and buy yourself a new bed
3. My third and final recommendation is to get creative with logistics, and get support as you need it.
We’ve spent the past 5 years schlepping our small family across the country. Back and forth. From our quiet West Coast life to the towers and corporate offices of our enterprise clients on the East Coast. This has only been accomplished with the support of friends and family and an understanding that we can adjust to each other’s schedules.
Get creative with logistics and get support as you need it
There’s always been tension between the life we want for our company and the life we want as a family. We’ve made decisions to move out of big city life, in order to have the family life we envision. I know from experience that if you want your business to succeed, you have to be content with your personal life. Only then will you feel supported to take those big risks.
A core part of the “founder condition” is that we need to learn from the mistakes we make. That includes learning bit-by-bit how to design our lives as well.
This week, we will quietly start inviting the wider public to buy from us. The challenge was to turn a highly customized software solution into a turn-key offering that’s reasonably easy to use. There’s still plenty of work to do, beyond working on the software itself. This new iteration of the company means documenting everything, automating our user on-boarding and training, and of course, learning a lot about our new market.
Having my husband as a co-founder means that he truly understands this unplanned, always eventful and never-normal journey we’re on. And that makes it the adventure of a lifetime.
Thanks Jeff xxoo