Will, after several years of trying and failing, I finally opened my own motorcycle shop, and just a few years after that, I met a fantastic woman. She’s one of those who makes you stand up straighter and comb your hair before you leave the house, and I like that about her. She has one of those fancy business degrees and had a fancy job to go with it.
Last year her company started cutting jobs, and because she was one of the last to be hired, she was one of the first to be let go. Now she can’t find work, so where does she go every day? She comes to MY SHOP! And she’s been trying to give me business advice too!
Will, I’ve been running this place for four years by myself, without a degree and without her help. Even in this economy, I’m making a decent profit, but that’s not good enough for her. She keeps trying to show me, “how things should be done”. I’m just about sick of her ideas, suggestions, tips, formulas, case studies, etc. How do I tell her to shut the hell up and get the hell out?
I love her so much Will, but something has to give.
First off, I like that more men are starting to ask questions, even though I have a feeling that some (including you) may not like my answers. Without hearing the whole story, I can’t be sure, but it sounds like you’re being a little stingy, a little proud, a little jealous, and a lot unsympathetic. That’s a bad combination for a relationship and doesn’t make for a very good business plan either. Now, before I hear your Harley pulling into my driveway, let me explain:
SHE’S ON YOUR NERVES. Yeah, like this is the first time. From the way you describe her, she’s one of those women who likes to… um… fix things. Most women do this, to some degree, and even though it drives men nuts, most women actually do succeed in making us better. If not for my wife, I’d still be wearing MC Hammer pants, sleeping on an IKEA futon with matching milk crate end tables, and eating Captain Crunch cereal from those little boxes that you pour the milk into. Like it or not, good women make us better men, and it sounds like you know that and like that about her. So why does it bother you that she’s trying to help you at your shop? I’m betting it’s for the same reason that you called it, “MY SHOP!”
HER FANCY DEGREE. You built your shop from the ground up. It took hard work, late nights, and a lot of stress and strain, but you did it even without some college professor showing you flip charts and bar graphs, right? Now she comes along trying to show you, “how things should be done.” Boy she really has some nerve, trying to help the man she loves fulfill his dream. Women! But you may want to ask yourself… if you did try her way of doing things, would you be more upset if it hurt your business or if it actually worked? If you get the answer I think you will, then it’s time for a tune up; you’ve got a pride and jealously build-up and it’s clogging your common sense filter.
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL? What if you lost your business (God forbid) and she had a garage full of motorcycles that you KNEW needed fixing. What if she told you that she’d rather fix them herself and didn’t want you in there? Even if she could fix them, wouldn’t you want her to let you help? I mean, motorcycles are what you do, right? Well business is what she does. She’s not trying to take over or grab all of your glory; she’s trying to do what she went to school for and probably loves doing, and if you love her like you say you do, you’d walk a mile in her shoes (not literally, unless you want your biker friends to make fun of you). She wants to be with you. You want to be with her. She wants to work in a business. You own a business. The only problem here is… well… you.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? Table leg time! The issue here is communication. You have some feelings you need to think through then you need to explain them to your girlfriend. Tell her that your business already has a boss but it could use a good business-minded employee and that she can work her way up to partner. Tell her that you’ll accept some suggestions, but only if she’ll accept that you don’t want to hear them all day, every day. And tell her that you’ll trade knowledge with her. She can show you how to manipulate a spread sheet, if you can teach her how to pack bearings and rebuild a fuel pump. That way you get a great business partner, a happy girlfriend, a working knowledge of Excel, and you get to laugh when she’s up to her elbows in grease and trying to figure out where that last screw goes. It’s a win-win!
Thanks for writing. It’s always good to hear from a brother of the struggle! Good luck to you both.
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William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing. Follow him on Twitter@goodenoughguy1.