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This regularly recurring column is brought to you by APSP’s Manufacturers Council, featuring hot issues impacting today’s industry, business insights and tips you can use to enhance your personal development and business success.
I recently made a YouTube video with my wife, talking about the beginnings of my pool business from her perspective and where it is today.
The video has had an overwhelmingly positive response from viewers and other professionals because it addresses something that is rarely discussed. When I decided to start a pool business, I had no idea what I was getting into. (And I’m sure it’s the same for everyone else.) Working in the field for someone else and owning your own pool business are two completely different things.
Starting a business from the ground up is an all-encompassing endeavor. It’s long hours and endless days without a break. It’s extensive time away from your family. And even when you do have a break, it’s common to get an emergency call and hit the road again.
Make no mistake: Being in the pool business has an impact on your family dynamic. And most people just starting out don’t anticipate that.
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So how does the business affect your family? Your significant other? Well, let’s talk about my wife’s experience so you have an idea of what to expect.
I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now, and I definitely wouldn’t be here writing this article, if it weren’t for my wife. She has been absolutely supportive in everything I’ve decided to do with this business. She’s also my sounding board, hearing out all of my crazy ideas and offering her take.
In our YouTube video, she discusses how important it is to support your significant other, especially in the early days when times are tough. I personally remember coming home from a long day of pools, sitting on the floor and asking her, “What did I get into?” She heard my concerns and frustrations and talked me through them. “Stay the course,” she said. “Someday you’ll laugh at this moment.”
I can tell you right now: I think about that conversation every day and laugh. If she, my support system, was not there to steer me right, who knows where I’d be. (Probably not still in the pool business.)
She also mentioned that when we decided to start this business, we wanted to do it right. While I wanted to rush into taking on clients, she suggested I take it slow and instead focus on all the city and state regulations first. That way, once I had a full route, I could focus solely on maintaining the pools. Had I done it in reverse, I would have been inundated with work and have a hard time getting anything done.
My wife also helped with the small stuff like running to the post office for stamps and picking up supplies at Office Depot. Taking on those endless, petty tasks made it much easier for me to focus on the job.
If you’re a spouse in the support role, don’t dwell on household chores that didn’t get done or criticize what your partner did wrong in the business. Instead, let them vent to you. Listen to them. Offer to be there however they need you to be and offer to take small tasks off their back. Providing support is critical during the early rough patches — you’re both in this together, so make it a team effort!
One of the things that allowed me to succeed was that I did not have to choose between the business and my wife. I could work as long as I needed to without hesitation. She didn’t complain or make me feel guilty — she understood that I was taking steps to build a successful business to support our family.
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She also understood that the job didn’t stop when I got home. As a new business owner, you are not only out there hustling and handing out flyers, but you’re also coming home and working on your social media and website so you can be found by potential clients. You could also be spending hours studying for your first certification or that elusive state license. I remember spending 20 to 30 hours a week in the evening time prepping my social media or studying. And my wife didn’t complain once.
One thing you can do is get your spouse involved in the online work or studying. I spent plenty of nights getting quizzed by my wife for tests and certifications. This helps them support you in a new way, allows you to spend time together and is actually fun! I remember one of the questions on my state exam was one I got completely wrong when my wife quizzed me on it — at the time, we both laughed because I was so off base, but when I saw it on the exam, I can tell you I didn’t get it wrong.
You could also have your spouse come along with while you service pools. Not only are you spending time with them but you are also teaching them about your work and why you love it!
If you are in the support role, instead of complaining that your partner is not spending enough time with you, I’d suggest letting them study until they are blue in the face or their fingers hurt from typing on the keyboard. It will pass — and hopefully they do too when they take a certification test!
I hope I highlighted how starting a pool business can affect your family, and some things you can do to make it more enjoyable. The important thing to remember is that it isn’t just you starting a business — it’s a family effort. Be sure to include them on the journey and it will be rewarding for everyone.
Rod Sterling tells a story about a family-owned pool and spa business in which the married proprietors were getting ready to retire. They had two stores and owned the building where the main business resided. Although they had rock-solid financial planning in most areas of their lives, the worth of their business was a complete mystery to them.
“They were ready to close the door and throw the keys away,” Sterling recalls.
As the president and founder of Sterling Advisory...
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