Blog Post

The Founder's Benefit in a 'Better-Half'

Editor’s Note: I’ve said recently that success in entrepreneurship is not always about the strength of your idea or your b-model. I was referring to the fact that success is also very dependent on “who you know.” Then Austin, Texas-based founder, Andrew Allemann, reminded me that success can also be heavily influenced by the support networks we cultivate outside our business relationships. In Andrew’s case this means his spouse. Obviously, not every founder need be hitched to reep the benefits Andrew highlights below. But these ought to motivate you to think about what your own alternative sources of support might be – because having them will impact your quality of life, and much more. As we say at Found|READ: Success takes a network.

My wife and I used to be DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids). Then I got the entrepreneur bug and left my corporate job at a Fortune 500 company. As an entrepreneur, you don’t always get paid on Fridays. What was once two steady paychecks turned into one steady and one occasional. Add to that, the a baby girl, and suddenly our world was turned upside down.
Thankfully, my spouse is still gainfully employed. Make no mistake – having a working spouse while you go after your entrepreneurial vision is a huge lifeline.

The obvious benefit to a working spouse is a regular paycheck. But there are many other benefits lurking under the surface:

1) Health care benefits. Perhaps the number one reason people don’t leave their cushy corporate jobs is because they’re scared about getting affordable health care. That’s a good thing to be scared about. But if your spouse has benefits, you’re usually covered.

2) Retirement savings. It’s hard to save for retirement while you’re investing in a new business. Not only is the money not there, but the easiest mechanism for savings – a 401(k) – isn’t accessible to most small businesses. When I quit my Fortune 500 job, we increased the allocation to my wife’s 401(k), as well as exploring IRAs.

3) Flexible Spending Accounts, Childcare Spending Accounts. Much like 401(k)s, these tax-saving options don’t exist at the beginning of your business.

4) Vacation. This may seem odd. But as an entrepreneur, you don’t have three weeks of vacation that you must use by the end of the year. That means you end up taking little vacation. Having a spouse with a vacation allowance forces you to take a much needed vacation.

But it’s not all about mooching off your spouse. You can–and must–give a little in return. You may work long hours as an entrepreneur, but you also have some flexibility that a 9-to-5 job doesn’t afford. When it comes to last-second emergencies and childcare, being an entrepreneur means you can step up to the challenge. (Unless, of course, you have a meeting with an investor or a prospective client or a journalist or…)

Investors also realize the value of having a working spouse. When I pitched our company for angel investment, one prospective investor asked if I had a working spouse. “It’s a lot easier to stick with your venture if you have a backup income,” he said.

He’s right.

Andrew Allemann is Co-founder and President of Fluid Innovation, which helps market-leading companies discover, assess, and then monetize internally-developed technologies through licensing agreements with third-parties. Fluid Innovation is based in Austin, TX.