This year on the 15th of April, I had my 10th marriage anniversary. I’ve been married to my wife, Aparna for 10 years. We have known each other for the past 11 years. Spending 10 happy years of being married was a milestone for both of us.
I am a startup enthusiast. I am always curious to know and learn about startups and the startup ecosystem around the globe.
This year, on my tenth wedding anniversary, I had a light bulb moment. I realized that there are a lot of similarities between having a successful marriage and running a successful start-up.
That is what we are going to talk about today, in this blog.
Below, I have listed down my thoughts and have highlighted the similarities between a successful marriage and a successful start-up.
1. A good partner is important in a marriage as well as in a start-up.
Many successful startups were started by two founders or a founding team. Even though there are many other successful start-ups with just a solo founder, we can all agree that a majority of them started out with a duo.
Data suggests that startups with co-founders tend to attract more investment than start-ups with just one founder. World-renowned start-up accelerator, Y-Combinator pretty much sticks to this belief — only about 10% of the startups they admit to their program are run by solo founders.
Co-founders share responsibility, complement each other’s skills, and progress the start-up as one unit.
This is a big commonality between a marriage and a startup. In a marriage, by default, you need to have a partner. You literally can’t get married without having someone to get married to. So marriage by default needs a co-founder as well.
Now, many times a founder decides to establish a startup, when they find a product-market fit. They realize that there is a market for the product or service they intend to create. They believe that the product or service that they have to sell has a good demand in the market and by scaling their operations they can build a successful venture. For scaling their venture, the founder probably goes to different investors or puts their own money and expands that start-up. Many times this is how the entire journey takes place.
Marriage also is pretty much the same. I think I decided to marry Aparna when I found my PVF; Personal Value Fit.
We are different people in terms of our likes and dislikes, but irrespective of our differences we have one thing in common which is non-negotiable; and that is our Values.
This realization came to us during our courtship. There are definitely other things as well that we liked about each other, however, our Personal Value Fit (PVF) was of the utmost importance to both of us while making this important decision in our life.
So in the case of startups, it is PMF; Product Market Fit and in the case of marriage, it’s PVF; Personal Values Fit.
3. Mission, Vision, Values.
While trying to build a successful startup, the founders need to decide their long-term perspective of the startup. They need to decide the mission, vision, and values of their startup. I believe that applies to a successful marriage as well.
Now, the mission and vision differ from founder to founder. For some people, their mission could be to scale their company and make a successful exit. For some people, it could be solving some very big societal problem, for example, Elon Musk wants us to be an interplanetary species and wants to build a rocket capable of taking people to Mars and supporting a permanent life on the planet. For some entrepreneurs, it might just be to be able to do well for themselves and their families. For some entrepreneurs, it is to hire people, to give them a job. It basically varies from individual to individual. But you do need to have a mission and vision which drives you and inspires you to take up the audacious task of doing your own start-up.
Similarly, I think a successful marriage also needs to have a mission and a vision. They may not be as large or magnificent as the missions and visions behind a startup, but small or large, there needs to be some kind of mission and vision for a marriage to be successful. For example, I always had this vision about my marriage that I should have a happy and friendly relationship with my spouse and my kids, we should travel the world together and live a good lifestyle.
My vision and mission drives me every single day to be affectionate, kind, and caring towards my wife and two kids. It has also helped me to do well in my professional and personal life.
4. The importance of teamwork in a marriage and a start-up.
For any startup to be successful, there has to be a great tuning between the founders. The founders need to have skills that complement each other. The founders need to understand each other. They need to have empathy for each other. They should be willing to be there for each other at all times. This is the bedrock of any successful start-up. And this is also what a successful marriage is all about.
A husband and a wife eventually are a team. And I think I have this opinion because I and my wife make a great team together. Be it housework, personal work, or family work, we complement each other or at least try ;-).
We do have our own share of fights, but we know that irrespective of our differences we have got each other’s back.
After a while, just like a family grows, a start-up also grows and expands. You hire employees, you hire vendors, partners, and collaborative partners in a startup. In a marriage, you get married, you get an extended family along with your spouse, and you have kids who are like your team members. And that’s where teamwork becomes important, not only with your partner but also with your extended family and your kids.
You need to display virtues of empathy, patience, and compassion to all your family members and they need to reciprocate the same for you to be able to have a happy married life.
So that’s where I believe teamwork is as important in a marriage as it is in a startup.
5. The role of Growth in a startup and in a marriage.
If a startup has to sustain and continue its journey, it has to remain in business, and it has to grow. Again, growth is subjective. For some people, growth doesn’t just mean better turnover profit. It can also be the other things in terms of employee wellbeing, morale, etc. Without a growth mindset, it becomes very difficult to attract the right people or make the right people stay with you and help you continue that strategy.
It is pretty much the same with Marriage. However, growth is a pretty subjective term. Growth does not necessarily have to be in terms of money. In a successful marriage, as a family, you grow in terms of maturity, love, and affection for each other. Marriage gives a purpose to your personal goals. It motivates you to buy a bigger house, to provide the best education to your kids, and give them a better lifestyle.
6. Dealing with the hardships of a marriage and a start-up.
The initial year for every startup is extremely difficult. You are figuring out the nuances of the business, you’re trying to figure out your customer, you’re trying to figure out your ideal customer profile, you’re building a team, you’re actually doing a lot of things. It is almost like giving birth to a baby, it is tough. It tests your character and your mental strength.
Marriages are no different. A Marriage also goes through this same phase. The first year after marriage tends to be a little shaky. You’re exploring your partner, you’re trying to understand them, you’re trying to know each other well.
However, many times, the ‘getting to know each other well’ part becomes harder than it sounds as ego comes in between. You have certain expectations from the partner and the partner also has certain expectations from you. You start doubting your decision of selecting the right partner if they are not fulfilling all your expectations. This might create some dissatisfaction and that might make things a bit uncordial between a married couple.
So, if the founders of a startup and a couple in a marriage are able to sail through the initial, difficult years, I think the chances of the marriage & Startup becoming successful and lasting for a long time increases significantly.
I think that marriage is a great institution. I made a very wise decision when I decided to marry Aparna. Similarly, establishing a startup is a great decision. Even if your startup does not become as successful as you initially thought it would be, you would still end up becoming more mature and a skillful professional.
India has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world i.e less than 1 percent. Out of 1000 marriages, only 13 result in divorce. And I think that that is also one of the reasons why India has become the 3rd largest start-up ecosystem in the world. Maybe one of the reasons Indian entrepreneurs are successful is because they have successful marriages. If you see the list of top entrepreneurs in India, like Mukesh Ambani, Gautam Adani, Lakshmi Mittal, Azim Premji, Narayan Murthy and many others, all of them have had successful marriages and successful startups too.
Therefore, I believe that running a start-up is very much similar to having a successful marriage. The challenges you face, the hardships, as well as the benefits you reap are alike between a marriage and a start-up.
That is all for today’s blog. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions, do ask them in the comments. I am always happy to help.
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