As I was leaving my office yesterday, I noticed one of my favorite pictures of myself and Vanessa, a photo taken by a friend of ours at our wedding. It reminded me of a blog post she wrote for her yoga business, and I had a moment of thankfulness for my wife. I have a penchant for choosing the path of most resistance, and my beautiful bride has followed me gracefully into a variety of challenging situations.
In other words, I’m not an easy husband to have and she is a champ of wife.
Every morning I read a chapter from Proverbs that corresponds with the date. I’ve done this off and on for years. Since opening my business, these scriptures have become central to my understanding of business from a Christian perspective; the proverbs have much to say about leadership, financial management, stewardship, risk, employees, borrowing and lending, etc. This morning I was reading in Proverbs 31, which describes a virtuous and praiseworthy wife in the last 21 verses. Again, my thoughts turn to Vanessa.
As I opened my Bible to Proverbs 31, I thought to myself, “Oh, that’s right… it’s the chapter about the wife.” I knew what to expect. However, upon reading these verses again (for at least the hundredth time), I noticed something I had missed previously: this wife is praised A LOT because of her work ethic and business skills. The Teacher (as the writer of Proverbs is called) doesn’t laud her for keeping a clean house, having the best dessert recipe, or being the most stylish mom in the neighborhood. Instead, he praises her for working. For working a lot. For working hard.
With this new perspective on Proverbs 31, I realized something…
Vanessa is this woman.
The journey of entrepreneurship has changed both of us. Vanessa and I have worked longer and harder than either of us ever imagined that we could. Like most business owners, we’re very familiar with what 5AM looks like and a 40-hour work week feels like a vacation (no joke). But Vanessa has really gone above and beyond to make sure our family and our business are successful.
Vanessa juggled her responsibilities as a mom alongside running the business. In my line of work, I spent years not coming home until 8PM or after, which meant I saw the kids for an hour before school and 30 minutes before bed. This also meant that Vanessa took care of all their needs during the week without me. She ran them from activity to activity. She refereed the sibling scuffles. She prepared dinner. She did homework. She communicated with teachers. She would get them bathed and ready for bed… and I would come in just in time to eat, talk with the kids, and pray with them before they settled in for the night.
When she wasn’t taking care of the Hyphen Nation, she was working the front counter of our store as a barista par excellence, loving customers and establishing the culture and level of customer service that would define our business. For several years, she worked from 6:30AM until 2:00PM, non-stop (without a lunch break), five days a week. Then she would come back on Saturday and work half of the day. Oh, also… she didn’t get paid. At least 45 hours per week for a paycheck of $0.
Did I mention that she also decided to get healthy, changed our eating habits, and helped us lose a lot of weight? She started doing CrossFit and worked out most days of the week. When did she find time to make health a priority? At 5AM, before starting work.
In her “down time” between slinging weights, coffee and kids, she was studying yoga and launching her own studio. Apparently working like crazy to build one successful business wasn’t enough!
You can see why I couldn’t help but think of Vanessa as I read about the entrepreneurial endeavors of the Proverbs 31 woman, or how she takes care of her husband and family. Vanessa has become this woman, and she is a huge factor in the success of our journey.
My most significant team member is my wife. My most important business relationship is my marriage, and our business could not have survived if it weren’t for the health of that relationship.
Leadership gurus often teach on the importance of a healthy marriage for success in life and business. Divorce destroys families and fortunes… it’s ugly and it hurts everyone and everything. Business is hard enough without it leading to a fractured family, and a home life in disarray will lead to a weak and unfocused business. The health of the home is directly linked to the health of the business.
This is my advice to anyone starting a business: make sure your marriage can not only survive the business, but will cause it to succeed. Even if your spouse doesn’t actively work in the business, he/she will hold more influence over it than any of your employees. If you’re not married and you are already on the entrepreneurial path, be sure to marry someone who is willing to walk that path with you. It is hard and you will constantly face unforeseen challenges. And, as a Christian, I highly recommend that you develop your relationship with God so you know his word, can hear his voice, and are able to follow his leadership in your business, your dating, and your marriage.
My wife has made my business successful. I am so thankful for my sweet Vanessa Ann.
Here are my notes regarding the character of a virtuous wife from Proverbs 31:10-31.
She is trustworthy. “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” v10-11
She is skillful and diligent. “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” v13
She is resourceful. “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.” v14
She is industrious and responsible. “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” v15
She is entrepreneurial. “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” v16
She is intentional about her personal growth. “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” v17
She is wise and pays attention to detail. “She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.” v18
She is creative. “She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.” v19
She is generous. “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hand to the needy.” v20
She prepares for herself and her family. “She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all of her household are clothed in scarlet.” v21
She provides nice things for herself and benefits from her work. “She makes bed coverings for herself; he clothing is fine linen purple.” v22
She is concerned about her husband’s reputation. “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” v23
She is confident. “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” v25
She is a teacher. “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” v26
She is attentive to the needs of others and actively meets them. “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” v27
She is respected by her family. “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.'” v29