Back in March(ish)….

Every year since I’ve known my (now) hubby, I’ve had to have “the talk” with him. This year, with eight months of marriage under our belts (preceded by eight years of dating), I decided to do it again.

But this time, I had a much more serious tone.

Standard procedure for this seemingly annual occurrence is for me to steam silently about the subject at hand for a couple of weeks. Usually it’s because my anxiety and stress at work is reaching yet another peak, and I’m wondering why I’m still coming home every night after all that effing nonsense, to cook dinner and make sure I’ve got a smile on my face for when hubs comes home. He in turn, is as sweet as pie. As a matter of fact, I MUST preface this whole thing by saying that I truly know and value the gem I have found in my husband. He is the most sweetest man I have ever met. Even my girlfriends (attached and not) are a little jealous. My sister is even jealous. He’s easy-going, always caring and one of those people that everyone just loves. He provides endless love, support and cuddles. And waits a really long time to bring up my (ahem) issues with lack of libido. And he’s a man for goodness sakes, so you know it’s gotta be tough. You gotta love that. And while I’ve been with him since I was 19 and went from financially supporting my mom to basically taking the brunt of financial pressure for the two of us, when I weigh the options, I don’t regret it. If I left him for some rich hottie, that jerkwad would more than likely treat me like shit, or cheat on me, or we would fight like cats and dogs. Like I said, I recognize what I have and value it a great deal.

That said….I encouraged him to start his business before he hit 30 years old. (He turns 35 in about a month.) His business is service-based and he sells packages of sessions. In the meantime though, I’ve carried the brunt of the bills, groceries and leisure/entertainment/travel expenses. It was fine for a while because I had decent jobs and steady income. He does contribute and we actually split our regular bills (rent and utilities) pretty much right down the middle. But I felt that I wasn’t ever able to save as much as I wanted or really focus on my own dreams, because I was busy trying to bring in enough money so he could follow his. This, in a nutshell, is what the “talk” is about every year.

“I need you to pick up the slack sometimes, ya know?” or “Sometimes you get yourself toys and spend money on nonsense and I don’t feel that the bigger picture is considered or that you consider that we’re trying to build something together,” are among the common statements I have made over the years.

But this year, I was really working a horrendous job (see two posts ago). I realized that if I don’t follow my dreams now, I will get to the point where it will simply not be feasible. I didn’t want to give myself something I’ll regret forever. Whatsmore, I didn’t want to give myself something for which I’d resent my husband for the rest of my life.

So, this year’s statements were more strongly worded, and basically went like this:

“Babe, I feel like we have this talk every year. And each year, you pick up the slack….for a few months. You always understand, and I really appreciate that. But then it fizzles, I get fed up, and I have to do this all over again. It’s okay if this business is not what you want to do forever, but you’ve got the rest of the year to figure it out. This time next year, if you find you don’t want to own the business anymore, then you shut down, get a traditional 9-5 job, and then it’s my turn. In the meantime, I think you’re down because you’re not making much. But all the clients you’ve gotten are all referral based. And look at you! You’re keeping your head above water! Can you imagine what a little marketing and advertising would do? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this asshole I work for, it’s that the people that have NOT continued to market and advertise their companies are the ones that have died in this economy. So let’s put together a marketing plan, hit some goals for a few quarters in a row and see what happens. I’m sorry if I’m seemingly hard on you, but you thankfully have no idea what it was like to be a welfare kid. I’m not trying to “pull that card,” but I never, NEVER want my kids to experience that. And right now, it’s time to build a solid foundation. If you’re not thinking that way about our future and the future of our family, then we have a problem. And honestly, I know we just got married, but I’m starting to have second thoughts. ” This last sentence I didn’t mean to say. But looking back, I felt it deep down.

He had made a few adjustments in the ugly economy, like getting a small part-time job (a result of last year’s “talk”) and moving out of his facility to another good but not as awesome location (that ended up getting rid of about $1000 in overhead per month). So this year, we put a very basic marketing plan together, and we started plugging away.

About a week or so after the “talk,” two of our friends (one, a high-powered no nonsense attorney with a brat of a wife and two kids, the other a genius level research institute director with a peach of a wife and a lot of love to give) had apparently had a conversation about how worried they were about us, and the latter couple invited us over for brunch at their beautiful new home. We were planning brunch anyway as we rarely get to see each other and try to do this once a year. This time though, they clearly had a mission. They had seen me with my GMAT book, still studying to take the stupid exam to get into business school. They had known for a while that I absolutely loathed my boss and the fact that I was busting my ass to make HIM rich. So they broke it down to us like a good big brother and sister would. At first we felt like school children being scolded. There were tears involved, but mainly because, we know how much they love us, but we didn’t know how much they worried. C (the scientist) asked if I really thought I needed that master’s degree, and whether I was doing it because I thought I needed it to compete, or because I thought I needed it to learn skills that I didn’t think I had. I responded that it was basically a combination of both of those things. But for the first time, I thought it was interesting that someone tried to talk me out of it. Maybe it was exactly what I was looking for, because I was immensely relieved. Then he asked what was holding me back from starting the business. And hubs and I looked at each other and I could tell that it was time for me to be honest with them about our recent talk.

So I told them that to be honest, I needed hubs to pull a little more weight, so I could get a little more flexibility. They seemed to agree. Actually, they really agreed and they were honest about how they felt. And it wasn’t at all an attack. It was good for both of us to hear these things but I think it really helped hubs to hear that it wasn’t just me, but that his own friends had noticed that maybe he had gotten a little complacent with me bringing in the steady income while he floated along a little.

All in all….great stuff came from it. The guys both offered to look at the ads we were putting together to offer more opinions. They also demanded a business plan from me, and my resume, to get me out of there in the meantime.

In an industry that is saturated by practitioners like my hubby, the google ad campaign is actually working well! Hallelujah! It took me a little longer than it should have to send over my resume though. I only did it about a month ago. I CANT HELP IT! Despite the love we got, I still have a horrendous time with leaning on people. Everyone is just so busy. I hate to add something to their plates. But I did. It actually helped a little bit, but less than I thought it would. Really only because the smarty pants and his wife are in bio-tech and that is a completely different industry than mine. So it was difficult for them to review it objectively without knowing what practitioners in my field look for. But valuable nonetheless! And if nothing else, the time they took to do it really made me feel like I have wonderful and loving people in my life.

So here I am. I’m depending on those very people to look at something that I have yet to compile. That pesky business plan. Actually right now, I’m working on my feasibility analysis, which precedes the business plan. Wouldn’t you know, that in both documents, the part that hangs me up (and comes up early in the process) is the market analysis.

Slow and steady wins the race though. I will not abandon it this time. I will move forward, little bite after little bite.

In the meantime, I’m going to try and blog more to improve my writing skills. I think I’ll try to sneak in a few writing opportunitites for a little extra cash. I’m also looking at accepting an internship. I know, it’s a very humbling experience. But this is what I wanted. So I’m going to take it and eff everyone (particularly my colleagues from my old policy analyst job) that look at me like I’m crazy. Yes, internship and serving tables is the plan. I’ll make the same amount of money I was at this disgusting job I just quit, and come home with A LOT LESS stress. This should minimize any excuses and leave me enough brain power to work on my business.
Yes I will.

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