Today, I can’t wait to introduce you to Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, author of Start, Love, Repeat.
Dorcas Cheng-Tozun’s book, Start, Love, Repeat, is a practical, empathetic, smart look at the life of entrepreneurs and their families.
How do we combine what we love to do and those whom we love without sacrificing either?
Start, Love, Repeat is specifically for couples in which one or both partners are entrepreneurs, but don’t worry if you’re not an entrepreneur — the research and advice are applicable for any couple who struggles to balance the work they love with the people they love.
And who has got this thing called “balance” figured out?
Dorcas wrote Start, Love, Repeat because there weren’t any books out there that dealt with what it looks like to nurture both a demanding career that can eclipse life outside of work as well as family life.
Start, Love, Repeat is organized by the phases of start-up life and it’s a smart book that combines research, personal stories, and helpful information for entrepreneurial couples.
We tend to stereotype entrepreneurs as uniformly young and single, but the truth is that nearly 70 percent of business founders have spouses, life partners, or children—all of whom, whether they like it or not, are living the start-up life.1 Those who choose to be with entrepreneurs invite things into their lives they may never have wanted: financial instability, uncertainty, stress, and the nagging sense that they are always playing second fiddle to the greater lure of their partner’s business.
You need a guide to making it and Dorcas Cheng-Tozun is just that.
Let me tell you one little secret…
Start, Love, Repeat isn’t just a book for entrepreneurs. It’s a book for adults. For anyone who lives a real life and is trying to figure out what and how to prioritize personal lives with work lives.
It’s a fabulous resource for ministry families. I’ve felt the dearth of good books to help a pastor and their spouse weather the challenges of always being available for ministry.
Starting a church is a whole lot like starting a business. We need good resources to help give us language to know what’s going on, that we’re not alone, and some tips to keep moving forward.
This should definitely be on your to-read list for 2018.
Dorcas was kind enough to answer a few questions about her book, Start, Love, Repeat:
Why is the start-up journey so difficult for couples and families?
There is nothing quite like starting a business from nothing. It requires entrepreneurs to lay almost all of what they have and who they are on the line: financially, professionally, but also emotionally. They’re signing up for a heavy load of uncertainty, stress, and responsibility.
Significant others, whether or not they are entrepreneurial themselves, are inevitably pulled into these risks. Being with an entrepreneur forces you to confront your own issues around security, money, quality of life, self-confidence, control, and more—all at the same time. Unsurprisingly, such couples almost always have challenges around conflict, communication, and decision-making, even while neither partner is operating at their best because they’re so stressed.
In addition, spouses often feel like they’ve been demoted or replaced because running a company is such an all-consuming vocation. Imagine: the person you considered your life partner has entirely dedicated him- or herself to another entity. More than one therapist I interviewed said it was comparable to your spouse having an affair. That feeling of betrayal can lead to deep, longstanding wounds if not proactively addressed.
How did writing this book change your perspective on your own marriage?
As a perpetual pessimist, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the hardships of my marriage. I find myself counting the sacrifices, the inconveniences, and the ways in which I have been hurt.
But as I reflected on our last twelve years together, I saw how—even though there were plenty of ugly episodes along the way—our relationship has matured and been positively transformed because of all that we’ve been through. Ned and I were forced to confront personal weaknesses, mismatched expectations, and conflict early on in our relationship. Thankfully, we were both willing to make adjustments along the way, and we have been able to move closer toward a healthier and more fulfilling relationship.
I also saw how profoundly Ned cared for me each step of the way, even when I felt isolated and neglected. I realized how he had done so many things, big and small, to try to make things easier for me or to respect my wishes. He has made plenty of sacrifices as well, like booking crazy flight itineraries so he could get home twelve hours earlier, or saying no to amazing business opportunities so he would have more time to spend with our kids and me.
Being married to Ned has also pushed me to live with more boldness and courage, and to take more risks. I don’t think I would have been able to write this book without Ned encouraging me and cheering me on along the way.
What are some of the most important things that an entrepreneur can do for his or her significant other?
Many entrepreneurs’ spouses live with an underlying worry that their partner loves the business more than him or her. Anything an entrepreneur can do to counter that belief, to communicate, “I love you and I appreciate you” is important. This could come in the form of choosing to leave work and turn off your phone at a decent hour so you can spend the evening with your family. Or perhaps you intentionally seek advice from your significant other on aspects of the business to show that you respect his or her opinion. It could be intentionally helping around the house or demonstrating your affection through words and actions.
One therapist I interviewed used the word loyalty, which I love. Loyalty, to me, means that you are committed to this relationship now, as opposed to some distant future when you think you’ll have more time. Loyalty means that you, my spouse, are essential in my life, and I am willing to take the necessary steps to make sure you know that.