“Long-term commitment.” “In sickness and in health.” “Through good times and bad.”
Those are statements we commonly associate with a strong marriage, and for good reason. A marriage needs that kind of emotional investment to survive the many ups and downs life throws our way. However, those principles can also be applied to a very different kind of passion project: entrepreneurship. In fact, the pillars of a successful marriage can pave the road to taking a startup from its initial all-consuming flurry (the honeymoon period) to a successful and sustainable business (a healthy marriage). As the CEO of a community of online marriage experts, I have witnessed this evolution firsthand. Let’s look at five ways it can happen:
Commitment Will Take You One Step Further
Marriage requires commitment through the unexpected, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Building a startup requires hard work, with an eye on both the immediate and big picture. That means sticking through hiccups both small (trying to find the right office space) and large (securing funding, departure of major talent, a failed beta).
When we acquired our online platform, it was a wedding website. Based on our commitment to provide meaningful value to viewers, we decided to relaunch it. We changed the focus from weddings (one day in a person’s life) to marriage (which can last a lifetime). This required completely scrapping all the content and brand equity, and building it from scratch. We were committed to our mission and decided to take the risk.
If you’re combining your true love (your business passion) with a healthy relationship (an idea that works while addressing a major market need), commitment is just the icing on the cake.
Love Is the Driving Force
Love and passion are two different things, but when combined together, they create a foundation for a long and successful relationship. Passion ignites the flame, consuming your thoughts in the early stages and laying the foundation for a close relationship. But when it comes down to it, love is what makes it possible to persevere and work through difficult times.
A successful startup undergoes a similar process: First, passion sparks an idea, gets investors involved and attracts talent. Love, from the CEO down, infuses confidence, stability and a desire to help products reach market and evolve over time.
Without love and passion, it’s difficult to translate those initial discussion stages into a tangible startup idea.
A Culture of Communication Keeps Everyone on the Same Page
In a marriage, without communication, resentments fester, messages mix and a minor annoyance can quickly grow into a toxic situation. In a startup, this goes beyond the CEO level, though the CEO sets an example by being available for discussions and encouraging a culture of communication. This allows everyone, from engineers to marketing, to stay on the same page and move forward as a team.
Our team is spread across the globe, which makes communication a challenge. However, with the right tools and services, we have been able to overcome this obstacle and build successful remote teams by keeping them connected. Here’s how we’ve been able to accomplish this:
- All of our content is created in Google Docs (we use Google Apps for business) so we have the ability to share and collaborate in real time.
- We use WhatsApp and Google Talk to stay connected throughout the day. With Google Talk, when someone is looking at their email, we know they are working and can connect, plus international calling is affordable.
- ProProfs training ensures a seamless knowledge transfer to new employees. The company provides training so you don’t need an instructor or in-person meeting.
- We often rely on FaceTime.
In short, creating a culture of communication will help you to avoid misunderstandings and snuff out problems before they start.
Healthy Habits Provide an Anchor
In a marriage, keeping up healthy habits is encouraged not just so you can enjoy a long life together, but also so you can avoid any health issues that might create a preventable burden on your loved ones. You can foster healthy habits at your company by stocking the office with healthy snacks, encouraging employees to bike to work, organizing yoga classes, or increasing your employees’ ability to handle stress by hiring a professional to teach a workshop on coping techniques.
Enforce breaks, limit weekend work or marathon sessions, and create a fun environment to prevent burnout. Nerf guns, foosball, darts and Ping-Pong are all examples of team-building activities that foster a healthy workplace.
Success Takes Time
Successful marriages aren’t built overnight. The same goes for businesses. Without the requisite time needed to truly nurture a startup across all its proper channels, it will likely fail. It’s not just the length of time; it’s about spending your time wisely.
Collaboration tools take mundane communication out of the equation. During breaks, we encourage employees to pursue their interests or take a walk. To show our appreciation and create a positive environment, we do everything from organizing annual events to celebrating small successes with a party.
The lesson here? Commit to the long haul — and use your time wisely.
Finally, one missing piece permeates every item above: respect. Successful marriages are based on an unwavering respect to a positive attitude toward each other, even when things are difficult. This is no different in business. No matter what stage you’re at, CEOs must treat all staff with respect and positivity. In turn, they’ll make a long-term commitment to bring your vision to reality.
Malini Bhatia is Founder & CEO of Marriage.com, a community of trusted experts that provide information and support on all things marriage.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.