I’m reaching out for some advice regarding my soon-to-be wife. She runs a small business making and selling sterling silver jewelry. I run my own pool construction company, and we are doing well.
We are getting married in October and we have come to a crossroads regarding our budgets.
She insists we get a 2/2 apartment for our living space, which would be half of my monthly income.
She has been working on her business for almost two years. Her jewelry business is relatively new, and she doesn’t make enough to cover the cost of a shop/storage unit for her jewelry studio.
I’m trying to figure out a way to say that we cannot justify the cost of the additional living space or rental, especially when she hasn’t made a profit as of yet. She also seems to lack the marketing skills or skills in general to make it happen.
How do I kindly tell her that her business is more of a hobby and that she could still work on it later on when we can afford additional space? Am I wrong for not wanting to dump money into something we won’t see a return on?
Either way, I don’t want to crush her dreams or aspirations, as I don’t think that’s the best foot to start off on as a newlywed.
Sincerely Not Trying to Be the Bad Guy
Let me save the day of your wedding — for you and your fiancée.
There is no kind way to tell her that her jewelry business is more of a hobby, and there is no way of knowing that it won’t become successful, given the right support. So don’t do it. Success means different things to different people, and if your wife turns a profit with this business and/or breaks even, it could spur her on to greater things.
About one quarter of small businesses fail in the first year, and more than half in five years. Some 38% of retail businesses close after five years. But part of being an entrepreneur is not allowing failure to define you, learning from each experience, and trying again. Of course, that takes marketing skills and money — but there’s one person she needs support from during the early stages, and that’s you.
She will know soon enough if this jewelry business has legs. She doesn’t need her partner to tell her that it’s a hobby. Not only does that sound condescending, it could create discord in your relationship too. Offer your help. Ask questions. Share any crossover guidance from your own pool construction business, and share what you have learned. Put your costs and both of your business incomes/expenditures on paper, and establish a goal for that 2/2 apartment.
There was an “explosion” in new business applications last year, increasing 24% on the previous year and 51% on the 2010-2019 annual average, according to the Economic Innovation Group, a think tank. The pandemic has upended millions of people’s lives, and some have found opportunities to start over and give their careers a do-over. This is an exciting and vulnerable time for such people.
There are many steps your fiancée can take now, including getting involved in her local Chamber of Commerce and finding a business mentor. The government’s Small Business Administration has local resources that could help your soon-to-be wife’s business. SCORE, a national nonprofit, has mentorship programs. There will be similar organizations in your state.
Take the word “hobby” out of your vocabulary, and you’re off to a good start.
By emailing your questions, you agree to having them published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.
Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.
The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.
More from Quentin Fottrell:
• ‘I just don’t trust my sister’: How do I gift money to my nieces without their mother having access to it?
• We’re getting married and have a baby on the way. My wife has offered to pay off my $10,000 student debt and $7,500 car loan
• I have three children. I quitclaimed my house to my most responsible son. Now he has blocked my calls
• My brother-in-law died, leaving his house in a mess. His landlord wants me to repaint and replace the carpet. What should we do?