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Author Topic: Is this a fair argument?  (Read 6570 times)

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Is this a fair argument?
« on: November 03, 2011, 04:39:35 PM »
My DH is a mega-procrastinator and honestly rather lazy. For example, he's in charge of the laundry, but he rarely actually does it. I end up washing my clothes and my son's so that we can, you know, have clean clothes to wear. DH ends up wearing dirty shirts, stealing my socks and stretching them to fit his big feet, and generally dealing with the consequences of not doing laundry. I find the whole laundry situation obnoxious to say the least, but I deal with it and move on. He is like this with other things as well; this is normal behavior for him.

The problem is that DH wants to go into business for himself in a few years. We've talked many times about it, and I bring up some concerns (health insurance, stability, etc). I have never brought up my main concern, because I know DH will become massively offended and refuse to talk to me for some period of time. My main concern is that, well, I don't trust him to be self-motivated enough to actually work and bring in money. I'm afraid his self-employment will morph into him sitting on the couch and drinking beer all day. I have serious doubts about his ability to schedule and structure himself enough to do his job and make money.

When the subject of self-employment comes up this a fair argument, or am I unnecessarily extrapolating? If it is a fair argument, how do I phrase it in the kindest, most supportive, least offensive way possible?
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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2011, 05:06:53 PM »
Firstly, yes, it's fair. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's mandatory that you at least express some level of concern.

Since you are almost certain he will blow up and stop speaking to you, you have two choices: Steel yourself for the inevitable and go full-throttle, letting it all out with the knowledge that he will hate what you say and react badly to it, but being OK with that; or tread as delicately as possible, trying to not bruise his big dreams, but knowing he could still blow his top.

I would try to approach it (again, with the knowledge that it's probably going to tick him off) not as "You are lazy," but as "Do you realize all the WORK that goes into this? You'll be on-call 24/7; you'll have to keep track of every detail; getting clients will be all on you, as will keeping them; you'll have to do all the _____ tasks related with whatever he actually does; if you screw up there's no one to blame but you; you'll have to file tax paperwork and legal paperwork and keep up with it all the time; you'll have to maintain your office; and so on and so forth" -- wear him out with alllllll the responsibilities, and discussing how he'll approach each one, how he'll still work with the family, etc. If he's got a well-reasoned plan for each thing you bring up, perhaps  he's more prepared than you thought; if he doesn't, maybe he will think it through better.

Related anecdote: My father has always wanted to be in business for himself, but while he does decent workmanship, has good sales abilities and is not great with having a boss, these qualities alone do not a good businessowner make. He's had at least four businesses start and fail because he is not good at things like making sure he gets paid, making sure workers get paid, filing taxes, etc. (all that behind the scenes, being the bad-guy-boss stuff -- the tedious parts!). My mother knew he'd be this way and begged him not to do it; he didn't care and did it anyway. Their marriage was already incredibly rocky, but in some ways his business dealings (and massive, massive irresponsibility that had started as things like not doing household chores) were the major, final straw. He ended up massively, massively in debt and working for an even bigger 'the man' than he had been before. Other 'lazy' people can make it work, but his tale makes me super-wary of trusting anyone who shows these signs.


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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2011, 05:10:52 PM »
I think it's fair to talk about his plans in detail since it does affect the family budget and to bring up some of the challenges of working alone. I think the laundry example is taking it too far and will lead to the old, "You're bringing this up NOW?!" argument. (But I totally get your line of thinking...)


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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2011, 05:38:01 PM »
Is it possible to come up with a list of situations that his strengths come out in? And then a comparison of situations where his weaknesses come out? You could apply them to what business situations he'd face.

Oh, reading that back to myself, it doesn't look like a great idea. But maybe you could work with him on a business plan and ask him to realistically describe what he'd do. If he starts going into a "I'm capable of this", let him finish and then tell him what areas you see being weaknesses. He could start working on the smaller things now and with improvement, you'd feel more supportive in several years.

I'd be willing to have one discussion with the honest truth. Let him handle his reaction, but don't back down after that. When he's had time to process the information, suggest the two of you talk to a business planner to get another perspective. I would keep the stance that you want to see him stepping up in the smaller things. If he doesn't, how can you know he'll step up at that time?

Or this may be the time to talk to a counselor together. This sounds like an huge issue that will have a strong impact on your marriage. I keep going over the ways it could work out and it's a tough situation any way I look at it.



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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2011, 06:16:40 PM »
He sounds like a dreamer, not a doer. I don't think you really need to worry about this happening. If he actually starts doing things to make it happen (drawing up a business plan, buying equipment, getting licensure, etc) then I would have that serious heart-to-heart and go over the very long list of things that he'll need to do to succeed. I would also insist that he have a large amount of savings put aside to ensure that you are able to pay your bills while he is building the business up.

But it really does take a great deal of planning and work to start and maintain a business. If he is lazy, it's doubtful he'll put in the effort.

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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2011, 06:22:31 PM »
It's okay to pursue your dreams as long as they don't become someone else's nightmares. 

It is absolutely a fair argument, because the welfare of yourself and BabyCakeBeret is involved - not to mention DH's.

People that have outstanding work ethics have to close businesses every day. Then again, they say that lazy folks make the best small business owners, because they are wise enough to hire people to do the work better than they could  ;)
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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2011, 10:48:22 PM »
It is absolutely a fair argument.  Someone can have the best work ethic in the world but if they aren't self-motivated, it's all for naught. 

Your DH knows he has to do the laundry - but for some reason he doesn't want to - whether it's something better to do, or just doesn't feel like it - and he just doesn't do it.  And you work around it.  Owning your own business is full of things you just don't want to do, and they have to get done, and he will be the only one, and there is no "working around it".  The IRS is not going to be understanding when he hasn't filed his taxes; the customers are not going to be understanding when he doesn't return their calls; his employees, if any, are not going to be understanding when he hasn't prepared their paychecks.

I know.  I owned a business for three years, from start-up to selling it.  My DH started it with me.  He's a smart guy and a hard worker, honestly.  But where this was concerned, he wasn't self-motivated in the same way I was.  He couldn't seem to understand that there were things that needed to be done every day that nobody else was going to do, and while I was doing some of them, he needed to be doing others - and I'd find him playing solitaire or checking E-Bay when he was supposed to be preparing for the next day or closing out the current one.  He just didn't want to do it and managed not to.

He can be like that with household duties, also.  He's very big on, "I was going to do that!".  When?  How long should I leave the dishes on the counter, or the laundry in the washer, before taking over the job?  It's got to get done.

He lasted for about 9 months with me, then went back to a regular job.  Where he worked hard and was very successful.  Self-employment isn't for everyone.  I used to tell people that small business owners only work half days - yeah, that's 12 hours. 


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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2011, 11:58:49 AM »
It is absolutely a fair argument and one you should definitely make.  Going into his own business needs to be a joint decision.  The risk belongs to both of you.  I would approach it as a 'let's think this thing through some: what are the steps we need to take in order to get the business up and running?  How will we cover for the time it takes to get going?  Let's also figure out how much the additional insurance and other benefits we are losing is going to cost and come up with a plan on how we'll cover that."  Maybe if you approach it as a list of tasks, he'll either give you some confidence that he's ready to take this step or abandon it all together.

For what it's worth, my DH runs a very successful construction business.  But, he's also a procrastinator.  I've learned that he procrastinates with things that he doesn't enjoy (like folding laundry) but jumps at doing things that he likes.  In his business, he gets to do something he loves, but that also comes with things that aren't so pleasant (like accounting, taxes, etc).  For a while, just after he started the business, he struggled with trying to do it all himself.  He was able to mentally get to the point where he knew he had to do the unpleasant things to continue to enjoy the fun part.  And as he got more successful, he was able to hire someone who could take care of the parts he didn't like so much.  It's worked out really well so far.

Maybe your DH is the same way.  If he's thinking being his own boss means he'll have to work less, then he's not cut out to run his own business, but if he sees it as an opportunity to get to do something he enjoys everyday, then as long as you can help him come up with a plan to do what he doesn't enjoy, then it might actually work out.

Either way, you need to have a talk with him and tell him your concerns.  They are valid and both of you need to feel comfortable with this transition before anyone quits their job.  Good luck!


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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2011, 06:48:48 PM »
I would just say a certain percentage of start up work needs to be done before he quits current employment, so you can stay solvent and get the business started as soon as  possible after his employment ceases. If he is just talking the talk it might never get started but if he is ready to walk the walk he might end up convincing you.


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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2011, 12:11:16 PM »
I agree with the pp who said wait until you see concrete signs that he's actually planning on doing this.  But if he does start moving on it, then talk to him.  To give some perspective from the other side- I'm a lot like your DH in this regard.  I'm not self motivated, and I procrastinate badly with things that either are unpleasant or stressful.  I know this about myself.  If someone told me that they thought I would struggle in this regard if I tried to start a business, I might react defensively.  I might even get angry.  But that reaction would be because I knew they were right.  I know that these are elements of my personality- I'm ashamed of it and don't like having it pointed out.  But that sort of "come to deity" is never pleasant, and deep down I would know the other person was right.  :-\


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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2011, 12:20:11 PM »
This is a pretty big deal and if you are this concerned before he starts a business, think how bad it will be after the life saving are blown away.

Before he starts a business, you and he should go for councelling. Find a financial planner/business consaultant/accountant type to run the numbers (well double check the numbers you run) and a relationship expert.

The fact you feel you can't even talk to him about serious legitimite concerns is a BIG DEAL. 


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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2011, 12:48:13 PM »
If he is truly serious, rather than dreaming, I like the idea of him doing prep work now.  Before starting a business, there is a lot that really needs to be thought through carefully.  He needs to gather information, talk to others in the business, figure out how much capital he needs, figure out where he would get clients, rought draft a plan, etc.  Watch how he does as he plans.

I tend to prefer the 'let him see the challenges himself' as a first step.  My next would be a discussion of the impact on the family and finances.  Then I would ask him how he feels his strengths will come out, followed by what about his weaknesses.  (These are over a period of time, not one after the other.)  My goal would be to get him to really think, rather than dream.


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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2011, 03:53:11 PM »
To me the question is not so much "is this a fair argument" (it is) as "is this an effective argument?" Because I don't think DH will see work and household chores as the same thing. I really don't think he'll believe that reliability in one is predictive of reliability in the other. I think he'll argue, and absolutely believe, that when it's HIS business he won't have any reluctance to keep up with necessary work.

So, if I were you, I'd stick to an in-arguable point: economic security. As a PP pointed out, even a successful business has a start-up period, and hopefully he understands the need to have a (big) cash cushion set aside to keep the family going until (if) the business takes off. If he takes care of that wisely, it's a fair bet he'll do what needs to be done for the business.


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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2011, 10:50:47 PM »
It's also 100% possible to start the new business as an evening/weekend endeavor, while keeping regular employment. This lets all of the business income feed back into the business for awhile, eliminates the need for any debt spending, and makes starting the business a truly no-risk thing. When it gets to the point that the business is highly competitive with the day job, *then* it's time to have the conversation about going to full-time self-employment. Until then, there's no reason he *can't* start a business, provided it's spare-time, and is self-funding (with, perhaps, a tiny amount of seed money from the household budget... a one-time gift of, say, $500.) If he follows through on everything, you have tremendous family gains. If it's the wrong time/wrong place, etc, the family only loses $500 total. (The key is really to NOT use any credit or debt to fund the business.)


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Re: Is this a fair argument?
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2011, 12:32:43 AM »
I would just say a certain percentage of start up work needs to be done before he quits current employment, so you can stay solvent and get the business started as soon as  possible after his employment ceases. If he is just talking the talk it might never get started but if he is ready to walk the walk he might end up convincing you.

Exactly what I was thinking.  I wouldn't bring up the perceived laziness.  I would suggest that most start up ventures take significant time to get off the ground.  Encourage him that if this is his passion and he wants to go for it, he needs to invest a lot of time and energy into getting it up and running while still maintaining his current job.  Then when it can be fairly supporting, he can quit his day job and completely invest in his entrepreneurial endeavor.