"I'll just have to ask my wife."
June 24, 2011
By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
Oh, just shoot me now. In working (and hanging) with entrepreneurs, I hear this more often than I hear "I'll have to ask my husband." Yet, supposedly women are more risk-adverse. Hmmm...could it be that "conventional wisdom" is still relying on outdated stereotypes? Surely not...and if you want me to buy something, just paint it pink...;-)
One (shhh...people don't talk about this...it's supposed to be all smiles, hugs, kittens, and passion) frequent reason an entrepreneur fails is - well - family. No way around it - starting any kind of biz, in any type of economy is full of risks. You simply can't do it sorta half-way and there's no "safe" way to put your dream on the line. You're either in it or you're not.
Sooo...back to my original title of this post...Things will be going great. I've submitted the proposal, as the young super-techie entrepreneur requested. He loves it. "Just what I need!" He's given me a verbal agreement. Then, uh-oh, the sentence of doom. That's right, he'll "just have to ask his wife."
Now, I've got nothing against wives - I was one myself once. I don't even get too upset when mistaken for one. And, it's a great, good thing for spouses to communicate...
BUT (ya knew that was coming, didn't ya)...
*Sigh* Now my $$ rest in the hands of someone who has never even met me, much less discussed the business with me and the hubs. To make it even more frustrating, she's a stay-at-home Mom (with 2.5 kids) who doesn't work in the company...but, hey, "She knows all about this marketing stuff!" (Bigger *Sigh*) Turns out she was a junior staffer at a "creative agency" years ago.
Of course, I'm generalizing here. Sometimes the wife is a former CEO or has her own biz, but not very often.
All that said...if the wife is integral to the business, why wasn't she involved from the very first? Unfair to everyone, including those 2.5 kids, for her to be making the ultimate decision affecting the family's future.
Sho' nuf. "She just doesn't want to spend the money now. We've got the family budget to consider. We've got another baby on the way."
So, if you're thinking of taking the leap, check with the family first. Lay out the risks. Make it clear you'll be working ungodly, inconvenient hours. And - sorry - but sometimes the business really DOES need to come first. Otherwise, you can forget the kids' college fund. THEN, maybe, just maybe you're ready to roll.
Bonus Tip: Don't hire family members for key positions unless they're actually qualified, and you can support the payroll. It's very different working with someone (you'll basically be together 24 hours a day) than it is living with him or her. (One of the top reasons for divorce amongst small biz owners is working together.)
From the vendor/service provider side - always make sure you know exactly who is making the decision, and what he or she expects. Otherwise, you'll waste time proposing to people who aren't there, don't know, and won't say yes.
The decision maker is the key. You have to know who you are really pitching to and what matters to them. The whole wife thing seems ridiculous in this day and age but women multitask better than men and generally are the ceo of the family.
Posted by: Annie | June 24, 2011 at 02:26 PM