With the arrival of yet another Valentine’s Day, a young entrepreneur’s thoughts may turn to love. And though many of us yearn for it, we often think we simply don’t have time because we’re so busy with our business.
Marc Randolph, co-founder of Netflix, explains the situation he experienced as an entrepreneur with six startups under his belt, “Starting a company requires a marriage-like commitment — for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health…”
In other words, you’re stuck with your other loves: Your love of entrepreneurship, love of owning your own business, setting your own hours, making your dream a reality. Although the money is tight — or often nonexistent — and 18-hour days are the norm, your dream keeps you going. But the question is, for how long?
At some point, you may look up from your desk or your laptop and realize that somewhere in your future you want a life, and not one lived in solitude. What can you do to make that happen? You’re an expert at business planning, so why not use some of those insights to find room for love in your life?
Here are seven steps that may help you make time for love:
1. Clear some space. Do you have the time to build and maintain a relationship? Figure on a couple of phone calls a week and two evenings, one morning and an afternoon of free time minimum. And this means totally free — no answering the cell phone or checking email. Well, maybe once with an apology for the intrusion, but that’s it.
2. Return to civilization. Are you living in your parents’ basement? This is not conducive to developing a relationship. Does your apartment or home have any furniture other than desks and file cabinets? Are the only clothes in your closet networking outfits and sweats? If you want to attract and keep the attention of a real person, better start acting like one.
3. Reconnect with friends. Guess who provides the best introductions to relationship candidates? That’s right, the people who really know you and have a good idea of the kind of person best suited to you. Spending some time with friends will also let you see how well you can carve out some space from your entrepreneurial efforts.
4. Make expectations clear. If you do find someone you value, you should explain how your life works and what you’re capable of, given the requirements of your business. Not ready for a full-time relationship? Say so. Not interested in marriage or children in the near future, or ever? Make that clear. That special person will be investing in you and has the right to a clear picture of what to expect in return.
5. Don’t expect instant success. You’re a nontraditional person, so finding someone who values that can take time. It’s particularly difficult if you’re also smarter than the average bear. In the meantime, enjoy the process.
6.Don’t backslide. Once you find yourself in a good situation, or even find the person of your dreams, it’s easy to think, “Well, that’s taken care of,” and jump right back into your business full-time. Understand that another person in your life isn’t a project you can set aside until you’re ready to work on it. You’ve made a commitment, with the attendant responsibilities.
7. Be honest. Can you really do this? Are you willing to give up the time and dollars and commit to something other than making your business concept a reality? If the answer is no, that’s OK. But be honest with yourself. Is your work worth the sacrifice of the rest of your life? Maybe for a while, but someday you’re probably going to want more.
So as another Valentine’s Day comes and goes, it’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to add life balance to your strategic plan or find yourself alone again next year. If you’re not ready for the big leap, you could start smaller. How about a dog?
Article by Adam Toren, a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of www.YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Matthew, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley).