Research shows that behind every successful person, there is a strong supportive spouse. The correlation between business success and choosing the right spouse is so strong that people like Patti Novak suggests that choosing the right mate can make or break your success. Success means different things to different people. In this discussion, we will focus on business success as it relates to entrepreneurship and to see if there is a correlation between success in business and choosing the right mate.


Recently I was invited to be a feature poet for a Christian's singles night in Houston, TX. Before the festivities were to take place, I had an opportunity to mingle with all of the persons involved with the event and other guests. I had a long conversation with the host for the night's event, as well as another young brother who helped to put on the event. As a side note, the women out numbered the men 12 to 1. So if you were a single brother, the odds were in your favor. But this isn't too much of a surprise as women out number men in church anyway; so this may be a sign of other issues beyond the scope of this discourse.

Anyway, our conversation centered on the scope and vision for this church's unique singles night. This led to a discussion about our most recent experiences in relationships: lessons learned, what characteristics we sought, future selection processes, etc. What made this discussion unique is that all of us are entrepreneurs around the age 30 who are either in the beginning stages of developing our businesses or are established, but still young in the game: so finding a mate who can endure through the struggles of entrepreneurship became the center of the conversation.

We also shared similar experiences when it came to our most recent mates. All of us (all single now) shared that we were in unhealthy relationships with individuals who did not share our vision, did not know their roles in the relationship, was unsupportive or encouraging, and/or was impatient: wanted to see immediate results of our individual endeavors. Because of these things and more, not only did it have an affect on the relationship, but it had a negative effect on the business as well. We realized that there is a correlation between business success and having a strong, supportive spouse.

The host for the night told me that one of his female friend's homegirl, after having an extensive discussion with him, privately made the comment to his friend that, "If only he had a good supportive woman by his side, he would be a millionaire." The host said that was the first time he had ever heard something like that from a female, which shows that even some sistas recognize this correlation.

This brings us to the crux of our discussion. How do you know your spouse is holding you back from business success? For those not yet in a relationship, but plan to start or have already started their own business, what characteristics must we look for in a potential mate that will ensure he or she is a good fit for the relationship, as well as the business?

I intended to write about this subject a day or two after my experience at the church, but decided to put it on hold for reasons in which I have forgotten now. But the thought was rekindled while I was watching one of my favorite television shows: The Big Idea hosted by Donny Deutsch on CNBC. For those not familiar with The Big Idea, this show is geared toward motivating and encouraging people who desire to be entrepreneurs to take that big leap in making their business dreams come true. This is accomplished by showcasing successful business people who share useful tips and experiences that could be of value for the people watching the show.

On Thursday July 17th of 2008, The Big Idea asked the question, Is Your Spouse Holding You Back From Success? After watching the show, it brought me back to that discussion the night of the Christian singles event. A lot of what they discussed echoed statements in our discussion and it helped me to gain a better understanding of what was going on in my most recent relationship that aided in its termination. I am not saying this was the sole reason for the break-up, as there were other issues as well. But this was a major variable in the complex equation that was our relationship.

The Big Idea had various guests to discuss the many aspects of this subject. One topic was the role of a spouse. Entrepreneurs often state that finding a good supportive spouse is a difficult thing to accomplish: one who understands their motivation, their business and knows what they can and cannot do to help. Mike Michalowicz (a guest on the show) has compiled a list of specific roles that spouses can fill in order to help promote their husband or wife's success. They are:

1. THE WINGMAN – Networking is a key to success, and social events with both spouses are "make or break" situations.  For example, if a guy says "I can't believe that guy's wife, she is a total witch"…his future opportunities will be compromised.  But a successful wingman will make the gossip non-existent and encourage future deals.

2. THE INTERROGATOR —Spouse asks questions of their spouse and challenges them to make better decisions.

3. THE CHEERLEADER —Opposite of the interrogator.  This person tells the spouse everything they do is right.  It's actually not good to have unconditional support.  Sometimes you need to have someone ground you in reality.

4. THE SECRETARY —When that late night call comes in and serious matters are on the table, the spouse needs to be ready to help.  Possibly navigating calls, and doing the behind the scenes dirty work.

5. THE INFLUENCER —The spouse who positions themselves as a know-it-all, influencing business deals (no one wants to do deals where the spouse is influencing decisions behind the scene).

6. THE COOK —Whoever is at home, needs to make sure the entrepreneur is getting their meals.  Yes, they should be able to fend for themselves, but it often is junk food. And a bad diet, begets bad performance.  Sounds so simple, but keep healthy food flowing and performance increases.

The question you have to ask yourself is, "What role can you fill to make sure the partnership reaches its fullest potential?" If you are not your spouse's support pillar, then you are ultimately an agent for his/her downfall. The Big Idea gave us five warning signs which may indicate that your spouse is holding you back. They are:

1. FINANCIAL/EMOTIONAL GUILT — Saying that you work too hard and don't get paid enough, or to "stop killing yourself." Hearing, "You love work more than me."

2. DISINTEREST — Downplaying your work role as though many other things are more important. 3. WORK INTERFERENCE — Getting in the way of your work schedule... excessively saying "Don't work" even saying "lets go on vacation" - even going out to eat or saying "don't work late" when you have other responsibilities 4. LACK OF INTIMACY — The spouse isn't interested in making you feel loved and wanted, which can be devastating to one's ego and, in turn, self-destruct success5. BELITTLING CAREER TO AND IN FRONT OF OTHERS — Negative responses to work. Again, putting down self-worth and thereby reducing motivation

When choosing a mate Patti Novak says, "It's important to be with someone who not only understands your career demands, but supports you in them…. If your job is time consuming, an ideal partner would be someone who is patient and independent." She further comments, "The perfect partner would be someone who isn't the jealous type, and has plenty of self confidence. If your date questions you every time your phone beeps and wants to know where you were exactly at 11:42 last night, this could be a red flag."

I can speak vehemently about the above quote as some partners try to be one's mother or father instead of their mate. This kind of behavior leads to excessive stress and as Patti notes, "For a lot of people, stress is a huge component of career life, and solace is often found at home. If you're dating someone who stresses you out on top of your pre-existing work-related stress, you put your well-being at risk-- not to mention your health."

This topic covers much more ground than what we can address in this article. I advise those reading to visit for an expanded discussion on this topic. One thing is clear, entrepreneurship is a daunting task full of risks, struggles and uncertainty. But if one is able to endure the trials and tribulations, the rewards outweigh the struggle. With that in mind, the same can be said about relationships. Owning your own business is not for the impatient and faint at heart. When the world is constantly saying no, you as the mate must be her or his extra boost of confidence, that extra spark of energy, that ray of hope in an otherwise dimly lit world.

The key to business success is developing and maintaining lasting relationships and the greatest test of all is how one maintains relationships at home. The implications of this philosophy have greater ramifications than is easily discernable in the above discussion. Not only is having a strong and supportive spouse key to business success, but it is the foundation for community, nationhood and national security: more on this in a different article. But below is a test to find out if you have a spouse that will more than likely make or break your success. If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who is not supportive or encouraging and is standing in the way of your success, your best bet is to let them go. If you can't change the people around you, change the people around you. Simba Simbi – hold up that which holds you up.

Take The Spouse Test For Success

For each question, answer 1-5... with a score of 5 being the perfect SPOUSE FOR SUCCESS1. IS YOUR SPOUSE A RISK TAKER?
If your husband or wife is willing to take risks in their life, that could be a great indicator that when business risks come up they will be uninhibited.2. IS YOUR SPOUSE A WINGMAN?
Does your spouse show interest, knowledge, and support in social situations without being over the top, or stealing your thunder?3. IS YOUR SPOUSE A MOMENTUM BUILDER?
Is he excited about what you're doing even though he doesn't share the same interest, just because you're excited?4. DO YOU HAVE A GOOD PHYSICAL RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SPOUSE?
Expressions of physical love, or the physical act of sex occurring every day of the week?5. IS YOUR SPOUSE A GOOD INTERROGATOR?
Does your spouse ask constructive questions that support solutions?6. DOES YOUR SPOUSE GIVE COULD 'COVER?'
Is he willing to adjust his schedule to 'cover' you, or assume a core responsibility that is not normally his in order to give you support?7. DOES YOUR SPOUSE RESPECT YOUR TIME?
Does your spouse allow you to focus on your private and Work time without interrupting unnecessarily.Scorings Your Spouse:1 - 12 - Your Husband or wife is standing in the way of your success13 - 24 - Your Spouse is  not holding you back, but they're not helping either!25 - 35 - Your relationship fosters success and your spouse gives you an entrepreneurial edge!