Dating and Marrying an Entrepreneur (Mel)

1:45:00 PM

Remember how I mentioned in our earlier post about freaking out when Ben said he wanted to be an Entrepreneur? I think most girls would too, especially when some of the ideas they propose to you can be quite unrealistic (but hey, you'll never know what comes out of it!). The business did start and got along pretty okay. It was slow though, because he and his partner were busy with school and at times had to forgo several opportunities that could have helped to boost business along the way.

I think, at that point of time, I was feeling worried because the business had nothing to do with his studies (music v/s engineering) and that he might ever consider taking breaks in between to concentrate on work instead. Thank goodness he didn't choose to take any during his 4 year university course, except that it was very obvious when he started to prioritise the business over studies at his final year.

In mid 2013, 12 months before his graduation, while we were casually talking about our careers and future, Ben told me that he wanted to concentrate on Travelclef full-time after graduating. I started to get quite paranoid again. To me, stability was important. I wanted us to have stable incomes so that we could set more precise targets to achieve instead of ever worrying if we had enough for the month. Him embarking on a journey like such would also mean that I might not be able to leave my full-time job anytime I wanted to because it would be too risky for both of us to be self-employed.

But over the years as I reflect on this, I only wish that I had been more understanding at the start. I can only imagine now how difficult it was for him back then to have to make the decision on his own, and the troubles that was going through his mind. As if that was not enough, my constant nagging on whether he was "sure about what he was doing" must have been very annoying. Haha.

It's normal for women, right? To constantly nag check on them so that we will not receive any heart attacks along the way. Haha.

Then finally, as he approached the end date of his undergraduate studies, I decided to just let it go. Ben had always been hardworking with his studies, any job that he was working for, and even in our relationship. So i thought.. how bad could it be anyway. Even if it doesn't turn out well in the end, with his hard work and effort, he would be able to move on and still live a comfortable life.

When we were young, we were always asked a common question of "What do you want to be when you grow up?". And as you get older, people would ask "What kind of job are you looking for after graduation?". This topic can be quite sensitive amongst couples, especially in (usual) cases where the girl would have already started working, while her partner would still be completing his studies as he had to complete his national service before that. Here's a few tips I have for couples who might have gone through the same phase as Ben and I did.

Tips when Dating an Entrepreneur (or a wannabe)

1. Encourage your partner to start the business before graduating

If time permits, and if your grades permit, it is always better to start early than wait till post graduation. Yes, it is going to be difficult to juggle studies and all that business planning or executing, but it gives you a head-start and if all goes well, you need not worry about sending in those résumés while fighting through the last lap of your education.

Well, this definitely leads us to the next point on...

2. Being supportive throughout the process

No matter how silly their idea sounds, or even if you feel that the idea would not be able to lead to a solid money-making business, be there for them. Laugh it off, cry it out or actually brainstorm with them. Perhaps, something good might actually come out of it with your valuable inputs. And if you rather not contribute anything, be a great listener and cheer them on.

Your encouragement can be a good source of motivation.

Honestly, Ben had many business ideas that I found hilarious and I too had rather far fetched ambitions at times. But who knows? Your million dollar business might start from a simple conversation over some kaya toast and coffee?

3. Never put down their pride by saying "no" straightaway

"No, that's stupid!"
"No, are you crazy?!?"
"No, don't do it!"

And the most unwanted of all...
"No, you are sure to fail!"

Really, do you not think that they had a reason for sharing their ideas with you in the first place? Okay, unless it was going to be something illegal then you have every right to say a big fat "NO!".

All entrepreneurs put pride in their work and they appreciate all the respect that you can give to them. Simply said, you wouldn't want someone to comment "Eee, confirm gross!" to a cake that you had baked for hours especially if they haven't even taken a bite of it.

4. Work-work balance v/s work-life balance

You have to be prepared for some last minute cancellations of dates or postponement of celebrations if work crops up. True... it shouldn't happen every time but mostly during the starting phase of the business, which is the crucial part in getting the company up and running. Expect more time for "work" and less time for "life". It's difficult to ask them to "prioritise their schedules" because believe it or not, to them, work has to be their priority for now.

Ben takes work home often. In actual fact, he is able to work from home, the office, or any place that serves a mean cup of coffee. At times, I do have to tell him to stop working especially more than an hour before bedtime because no one will be able to have a good sleep if their mind is just filled with proposals deadlines - money figures - business plans etc. His phone is also by him 24/7 and going out on a date would also mean that you are going on a date with whoever he's texting or conferencing with that day.

To me, it's good news whenever Ben is busy. 

And instead of pestering them "when will you be done with work?!", perhaps you might want to ask them instead, "is there anything I can do to help you out?". A good neck massage or a cup of water is still part of helping out. And yes, Ben would never refuse another cup of coffee anytime... tsk.

5. Monetary support limits

You're not a partner in the business, should you still help out financially? 

I believe this differs for everyone. If you think about it, on normal occasions, considering there is no business involved... if your partner does ask to borrow money for a family situation or because they have run short of cash for the month, would you agree to take out a sum of your savings to lend it to them? So you are sure to have a limit in your mind on how much you will be willing to lend him or her either because you are afraid it will be financially stressful for yourself if you are low on savings, and also worry that you might not see your money ever again if the business does not flourish.

Personally, I would weigh the pros and cons of loaning the amount and whether I am financially stable enough to carry on with my personal goals if it will take long for my partner to return the cash to me.

But don't ever use "money" to express how much "love" you have for your partner, I don't believe that they are correlated.

Till today, Ben has never asked for me to help him financially and neither has he seek help from anyone else, even though at times he was indeed tight on cash. Knowing that he will definitely refuse if I were to lend it to him, I instead increased my monthly input into my personal savings. This way, I can contribute more to our daily expenses or future household purchases if there is a need to, like a sum of money we can fall back on.

Dear Ben, it has been 5 years since you embarked on this journey and I am really proud of the milestones you have achieved so far, with the business and also with your personal life. As you continue to motivate your friends, readers and juniors on being a better leader, do continue to stay humble and thankful for all the blessings that you have received along the way. Never give up no matter how hard it will be (I don't think you will ever will anyway, haha!), as I will always be there with you and rooting for you. 

I look forward to the day that our own business plans materialise as well. In the meantime, 오빠 화이팅! 

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