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Getting Spouse Support for your Business

Dear Leslie,

I would like to work at home but my husband always comes up with reasons why each thing I want to do is a bad idea. How do other people get support from their husbands so they can work at home? Diane, NM

Dear Diane,

I have been fortunate that my endevors have always been supported by my husband so I'm always surprised at how often I hear of people who don't support their spouses dreams. I have talked to many people who want to work at home and then say to me, "I have to talk it over with my husband (or wife)." I'm all for decisions being made as a couple but I find it odd that only one is involved in the info gathering while the other seems to have the power to say "yes" or "no" without having participated in the info gathering. I have this impression that women are telling their husbands, "I want to work at home," and the husbands are saying "Yes, dear." But when she finally takes the step, and reality hits, husbands pull back. "Whoa! Where are you going to find the time?", "What if you fail?", "What is this thing you sent our hard earned money to?" (I should add here that I know this happens to husbands too who'd like to start a home business.) 

Odds are the questions the spouse raised were answered when the wife was researching. But I bet that her spouse didn't visit a single website or read a single email when he expressed his opinion. And faced with a questioning spouse, she now has to explain her choices and maybe begins to second guess herself. 

If your spouse has influence over your decision about working at home, then bringing him/her into the mix early on will be key to your success. Its hard enough to build a business without having a spouse who isn't supportive. 

Before going through a list of tips to help gain spouse support for your work-at-home dream, you need to first understand why he/she doesn't support you. For some spouses, there is a fear of financial ruin particularly if you are currently working outside the home. This is a legitimate fear and should be addressed. Some spouses don't like their routine disrupted and working at home requires a change in the home routine. Some spouses just aren't the supportive type which goes much deeper than just working at home. By understanding your spouse's reservation, you can better address his fears and hopefully gain his support.

Here are some ideas to help get your spouse on your side:

1) In most cases, it is very important to have your spouse read all the materials you read, listen to any recordings or calls, and talk to those you talk to as well. That way he/she can get the same information you do without your trying to explain it and missing something important or not being able to answer his question. Any questions or concerns can be raised and explored together. If he is resistant in participating in the research and evaluation process, then let him know that he will need to trust that you can make a good decision and support whatever decision you make. How can your spouse influence your decision when he doesn't have all the information that you have?

2) All successful businesses have a business plan that outlines financial aspects. How will the business be funded and maintained? Many spouses worry that the family will fall into poverty if you quit to work at home. Therefore, make a plan to show that you won't let the family finances suffer. How much will working at home save you financially (Check out this great Cost of Work Calculator to show how much a job outside the home may be costing you.) Will you work your business around your job? Will you work to live six months on one salary saving the second income to be used to start the business and live on until the business is successful? How will you ensure your business does grow?

3) Make a plan that shows how you are going to fit your business in with what you already do and how it will benefit the family in the long run. Let your spouse help with goals and even reap some of the rewards. My husband puts the kids to bed (baths, lunches for school etc) so I can work because he would like a trip to Mexico during the winter and a new boat. 

4) Plan for household management. Because I am home, I usually make dinner and take care of things that need to be done such as scheduling repairs. But I do work so my husband and children help with household chores as well. 

5) Make a schedule so you have clear work and non-work hours. I work a lot in the evening but I don't work 3:30 pm to 7 pm; this is family time. I tuck my kids in at 8:30 pm and sometimes I work some more. But at 10 pm, I'm off for needed down time and hubby time.

6) Finally, let your spouse know working at home is important to you...if it is. Often home businesses, especially those run by moms, are seen as little mommy hobbies. And its okay if it is just a hobby. But if you are looking to make this your "career" or if its important to you, you need to convey that to your family. 

Worst case scenario:

A successful business trainer and I were talking one day about how people give up their goal of working at home before they get started. "The Martians get them," he said. He calls the dream stealers Martians but I like to think of them as lemmings. Lemmings are those creatures that follow all the other lemmings even if its off a cliff. People tend to be like that; not wanting others to break away from the pack particularly to be successful. As long as the lemmings keep everyone in the pack, they can blame their circumstance on anything (the economy, the weather, their spouse, their boss, their kids, their lack of time.... etc) but their own failure to take action.

When you break away, strive to do and be more, the pack will try to rein you in so they don't look mediocre. Their attempts to hold people back are often disguised as concern, "I hope you aren't setting yourself up for disappointment." "I hope you know what you are doing." "I heard those things never work." Other times they might just try to beat you down by making fun of you or saying that you aren't smart enough. "No one is going to buy from you." "I can't believe you fell for that." "That'll never work." The sad part is that friends and family, the people who should be the most supportive, are often the first ones to question, tease and even discourage.

But, if you really want to succeed in working at home, you need to hold firm to your dream. Do you think people thought stay-at-home mom Mrs. Fields was crazy to think she could open a store selling her chocolate chip cookies? Do you think people thought Mary Kay Ashe was nuts to think she could support her family selling her cosmetics from her kitchen table? Do you think people thought J.K. Rowling was wasting her time sitting in that cafe day after day writing about Harry Potter?

Everybody starts at the bottom with only a dream. Mrs.Fields did. Mary Kay did. JK Rowling did. I did. None of us let the lemmings in our world (and those sometimes lurking in our psyche) hold us back. If your spouse is holding you back, take a good look at why. It may be that one of the suggestions above will help him understand what it is you are trying to accomplish and how. But if its an effort to keep you in the pack, then sometimes the only way to get through to them is through success. Show them that you believe in yourself and your goal. Make a believer out of him by succeeding in your home business.

Ask WAHS Leslie is Leslie Truex a stay and work-at-home mom who has been helping people work at home since 1998 with her web site Work-At-Home Success. She is also the author of Jobs At Home: A Complete Guide to Finding a Work-At-Home
Job. Ask WAHS Leslie is a weekly column. You can submit a question to Ask WAHS Leslie by emailing here.