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How To Balance Launching A Startup And Divorce

Launching a startup while navigating a divorce can take an emotional and financial toll. Meghan E. Freed, Esq. reveals how to manage the balancing act.

Launching a startup is no small feat. Neither is successfully navigating a divorce – in other words, with your emotional and financial health intact.

Photo: Meghan E. Freed, Esq., co-founder at Freed Marcroft | Courtesy
Photo: Meghan E. Freed, Esq., co-founder at Freed Marcroft | Courtesy

Both require creativity, determination and focus. But where a flourishing startup requires a whole and a whole lot of hustle, the key to a smooth divorce is often to take a beat and not react. In this article, we will explore the delicate balancing act that entrepreneurs face when they find themselves amid a divorce while founding their startup.

As a divorce lawyer who is an entrepreneur herself and who has worked with hundreds of business owners over the years, I understand that divorce can easily consume even the most capable entrepreneur’s time and energy. But you have the power not to let it.  With the right guidance and mindset, it is possible to both have a good divorce and continue to build your startup. From keeping personal and business matters separate to managing stress and self-care, I’ve put together the top strategies to help entrepreneurs gain clarity and maintain focus on both their business and personal goals.


Managing personal and professional stress: Strategies to maintain focus and productivity

Since we need personal growth to grow professionally, I’m beginning with the personal growth tips.

Launching a startup is inherently stressful, and going through a divorce doesn’t make it easier. Developing coping mechanisms to manage stress and maintain focus on your business goals is key.

First and foremost, prioritize self-care. Take time to rest, exercise, and engage in activities that bring you joy. Incorporate stress-relief techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, into your daily routine. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.  You must keep your mental and physical health in check for your business to thrive.

Setting clear boundaries between your personal and professional life is also crucial. Create a structured schedule that allows you to allocate dedicated time for both your startup and divorce-related matters. Avoid working excessively long hours, as burnout will ultimately hinder your productivity. Instead, focus on working efficiently during the time you dedicate to working on business.


Building a support system: Surround yourself with the right people

A solid support system is essential to help you navigate the challenges and maintain your well-being.

Surround yourself with trusted friends, family members, and mentors who can provide emotional support and guidance. Make sure they don’t let you wallow in the minutia – you want people who remind you of and hold you accountable to your future goals.  Seek out fellow entrepreneurs who have gone through similar experiences and can offer valuable insights from their own journey.


Seeking professional help: Utilize therapy or coaching

Professional advisors beyond your attorney can be invaluable in navigating the emotional and practical challenges that come with it.

Consider engaging the services of a therapist or counselor who specializes in working with entrepreneurs. They can provide a safe space to process your emotions, develop personalized coping strategies, and offer objective guidance as you navigate the complexities of both divorce and entrepreneurship.

Additionally, working with a business coach or mentor can provide you with practical guidance and support as you continue to build your startup. They can help you stay focused on your business goals, overcome obstacles, and make informed decisions that align with your long-term vision.  In other words, they will help keep you from getting sucked into the drama and chaos of the divorce and keep you focused on the future.


Maintaining work-life balance: Techniques to find harmony

Balancing the demands of entrepreneurship and divorce requires finding a work-life balance that allows you to excel in both areas. Here are some techniques to help you find harmony between your personal and professional obligations.

Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Designate specific hours for work and make a conscious effort to disconnect from work-related matters during your personal time. Prioritize quality time with your loved ones and engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment outside work.

Photo: (JLco) Julia Amaral, YFS Magazine, Adobe Stock
Photo: (JLco) Julia Amaral, YFS Magazine

Delegate tasks and responsibilities whenever possible. Surround yourself with a reliable team that can handle day-to-day business operations, allowing you to address divorce proceedings without compromising your startup’s growth. Continue to push to automate processes and utilize technology to streamline operations and save time.

Entrepreneurs are notoriously bad at work-life balance.  If you do it right, your divorce can make you better at it.


Understanding the legal implications: How divorce impacts your business

Divorce can have significant legal implications for your business. One of the first steps you should take is to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who understands the many nuances of high net worth or entrepreneurial divorce and family law. This isn’t the time for a generalist or to be penny-wise and pound-foolish on your attorney’s fees.  You need someone who really understands the unique concerns involved with a startup.  They can guide you through the process and help you understand how the divorce may affect your business assets, including intellectual property, ownership shares, and revenue streams.

“It is crucial to keep personal and business matters separate during divorce proceedings.”

It is crucial to keep personal and business matters separate during divorce proceedings. Maintain accurate financial records and separate business accounts to clearly distinguish between personal and business assets. This will not only protect your business but also demonstrate transparency during legal proceedings.

Additionally, consider the impact of divorce on any existing business contracts or agreements. Review these contracts carefully with your attorney to determine if any modifications or renegotiations are necessary to protect your business interests.


Protecting your business assets: Steps to safeguard your startup

When going through a divorce, taking steps to protect your business assets is essential. Start by conducting a thorough inventory of all your business assets, including tangible and intangible assets. This includes everything from equipment and inventory to intellectual property and customer databases.

Once you clearly understand your business assets, consult with your attorney to explore legal options for safeguarding them. This may include drafting or updating shareholder agreements, implementing non-compete clauses, or establishing trusts to protect your business interests.  It’s a good idea to connect your divorce lawyer and your business attorney early on so that they can coordinate the best strategy for you.

Proactively communicate with your spouse and their legal counsel to reach a fair and amicable agreement regarding the division of business assets. Consider the value each party brings to the business and explore options such as a buyout or a structured payment plan to ensure a fair settlement without sacrificing the future growth of your startup.


Negotiating the division of assets: Tips to reach a fair settlement without sacrificing your business

Negotiating the division of assets during a divorce can be challenging, especially when it involves a business. Here are some tips to help you reach a fair settlement without compromising the viability of your startup.

First, gather all necessary financial documents and records to provide a clear picture of your business’s value. This includes financial statements, tax returns, and other relevant documents. Your divorce lawyer will likely recommend you engage the services of a professional business valuator if needed to obtain an accurate assessment of your business’s worth.

Be open to compromise and creative solutions. Consider alternative options such as trading other marital assets for a larger share of the business or offering a structured payment plan over time. Collaborate with your attorney to devise negotiation strategies that protect your business interests while promoting a fair settlement.

Finally, consider ADR. Alternative dispute resolution or “ADR” divorce options like mediation or collaborative divorce can be a way for you and your spouse to come up with possibilities for settlement that are far more creative than a court’s.  Plus, an out-of-court divorce out of court remains far more private than letting a judge decide.  This is almost always better for your business and future relationship with your spouse (particularly important if you have children and will co-parent together).


Communicating with your co-founder or business partners: Navigate the impact of divorce on your startup team

Divorce can significantly impact your startup team and co-founder(s). Maintaining open and transparent communication is crucial to ensure the stability and success of your business and relationship.

Inform your co-founder or business partners about the divorce early on, emphasizing your commitment to the business’s growth and stability. Address any concerns they may have and assure them that you will do everything possible to keep the divorce proceedings from negatively impacting the business’s operations or growth.


Next Steps

Launching a startup while going through a divorce is undoubtedly a balancing act. However, with determination, resilience, and a focus on self-care, you can successfully navigate divorce while launching and growing your startup.  And, more importantly, you can even come out the other side a stronger leader and person.


Meghan E. Freed, Esq. is a nationally recognized matrimonial attorney and thought leader on the transformational power of divorce. She is also an entrepreneur who co-founded Freed Marcroft, one of Connecticut’s largest and most award-winning divorce and family law firms. 


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