14 Business Lessons from 14 years of marriage

There are similarities between what it takes to build a successful mariage and what it takes to build a successful business.

Back in June my husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary, and it got me thinking about how building a successful marriage had equipped me for building a successful business. This connection took me a little by surprise because I’d never connected the two domains of my life in this way before, but in doing so I identified some lessons that I wanted to share with you. I think you might find them  useful 🙂

Here are 14 business lessons I’ve learned from 14 years of marriage:

1. Have a Clear Vision

Thinking back on our journey I realised that at the very beginning my husband and I had a clear vision.  We knew where we wanted to go and what we wanted to achieve. We got married at the tender age of 20 years old, and we pretty much had nothing; we were both studying, lived in a council property and pretty much had no money. All we really had was a vision, it was simply the idea of what we could achieve together that kept us going.

Likewise, it is extremely important that you develop and maintain a vision for your business. Vision will sustain you, keep you focused and pressing ahead when the going gets tuff. At the beginning of your business  journey, decide what you want to achieve and keep this at the forefront of your mind.

2.  Remember That Fairy Tales Are Fake

Fairy tales are not real, we know this and yet social media often presents an image of marriages and business that are more akin to fairy tales than real life. Now that’s not to say I don’t believe in happy marriages and happy businesses but let’s be honest, life isn’t a box of chocolates every day lol.

Remember that your marriage and your business journey is it’s own kind of beautiful and every journey has it’s ups and downs. Don’t compare your behind the scenes to somebody else’s front of stage. Remind yourself that fairy tales aren’t real, and  just because your journey seems a little messy at the moment, does’nt mean true beauty won’t emerge in the end.

3.  Appearances Don’t Count

In our social media-driven society, so much emphasis is placed on appearances, but here’s the thing;

Unless appearance is backed by substance it doesn’t mean a thing!

Now, my husband and I find each other attractive but after 14 years, we don’t walk around each day thinking about how beautiful each other is. The way we look as little to do with the success of our marriage, what matters most is substance. Similarly, outside appearances matter little, what really makes the difference is what happens behind closed doors.

In a business context the principle also holds true; you can have one of the world’s most visually stunning brands, however, if this is not backed by substance you’re on the road to failure. Ensure that you have the fundamentals right e.g. strategy,  brand values, effective business model.

4. Success Takes Hard Work

14 years of marriage has taught me— it doesn’t matter how much you love each other, if you refuse to put in the work success will elude you.  There are no shortcuts  or replacements for actually doing the work.

The same is true in business, a great idea will go nowhere without hardwork and determination. Success in all forms takes work. Even when you have achieved a modicum of success, be mindful not to take your feet off the gas.

5. Take Advice But Carve Your Own Path

Now over the years, my husband and I have been surround by a lot of married couples and received some great advice. But some advice was also totally wrong for us, despite the good intentions behind it. Be humble enough to accept advice and even correction but be confident enough to plough ahead in your own direction when you deem it necessary.

Never be afraid to carve your own path. Reflecting on our journey as husband and wife and the things that make our marriage work, some of those things are quite different to the advice and guidance frequently followed by others.  Shape your own journey.

6. Don’t Compare 

Quite simply in the words of Theodore Roosevelt comparison is the thief of joy, just don’t do it.

7.  Change Is Normal

The only thing consistent in life is change — one of the most important things that my marriage has taught me is that we are constantly changing and evolving as people. The people that we were at 20 years old are not the same people we are today at age 35.  Many are resistant to change but long-term success requires us to become comfortable with it, because change is an essential part of growth.

8.  Be Yourself , Don’t Lose Yourself

Selflessness is important in marriage but this doesn’t mean losing the essence of who you are. I certainly believe that compromise and character adjustment is important. However, you should never adjust to the point of losing yourself and the essence of who you are. One of the major things that has allowed my marriage to thrive is that I’ve always had the freedom to be me, which has enabled me to grow.

As a business owner, you should always strive to be yourself. And build your own identity into your brand. Don’t hide behind your brand and build an identity that you think you should have, build a business that is authentic.

9.  Say Less And Do More

I’ve learned that more often than not it’s best to say less and do more. My husbands love language is ‘acts of service’ (check out the 5 love languages by Gary Chapman if you’ve never read it) for him words mean little it’s actions that count. Similarly, in business, we don’t always need to broadcast what we are doing and how successful we are, rather let’s do more by showing how good we are through our actions. Spend more time showing people what you do than telling them—the whole world doesn’t need to know everything—so start doing more and talking less.

10.  Seek Support

Support is quite important to me, no man is an island we need each other. My husband and I have always had a great support network, and people around us to help in difficult seasons. Without our incredible support network we may not have made it this far.

In my opinion total independence in business is overrated, in fact many businesses fail because they don’t seek advice and support. On the contrary businesses that do succeed consistently say that having mentors, advisers and coaches has been an intrinsic part of their success.

11.  The Importance of Self-Awareness

Marriage is like a magnifying glass, which will reveal things about your character and flaws that you never knew you had.  Marriage has taught me the importance of looking at myself and making adjustments where necessary. Research shows that self-awareness is one of the most important leadership traits in business leaders. Therefore you must be able to look at yourself objectively and make decisions accordingly

12. Be Honest

My husband and I are brutally honest with each other whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. We have been married for too long to sugar-coat things. We keep  it 100% real at all times. Honesty is important in business too; whether it’s with your clients, partners or employees, and even yourself. For example, if a client consults me about an idea and I feel their idea needs adjusting, I am honest with them, all-be-it in a kind, compassionate way.

It’s always best to build relationships on truth in any and every sphere of life.

13.  Believe The Best and See The Best

My husband and I first met in school over twenty years ago. Reflecting back —I can remember that I always saw and believed the best in him—and this has continued throughout our marriage.  His flaws don’t phase me I am able to see the amazing person he is inspite of them.  To connect this to business be a business owner that genuinely believes in and cares about your clients, employees and partners. People are the most important thing.

14.  Have Faith 

The onus is on you to believe that you will succeed, that your business will be successful. I’ve always believed in marriage and believed in my ability to succeed, but above all I have a steadfast believe in God which underpins everything, so in the words of Mark 5:36 ‘…do not fear, only believe’.

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