Pre-Startup Contract

UPDATE: Get updates to my Startup Journey by email, click here.
The most important and first contract you can have when starting your startup is this one.  This is a contract my wife and I put together and signed.
We all know how hard startups are.  My first startup was hard and this one will be harder.  I am older, have more responsibilities and less tolerance for risk.  I am also married and I know that this is not just my decision and my actions will not just impact me.
Luckily my wife is extremely supportive and encouraging even though she has the best intentions and is extremely supportive, I decided to put together a contract to establish some ground rules.  I want to make sure she understands the consequences of my actions and how it will impact OUR lives.
Here is the contract.

Pre-Startup Contract

This is a contract between Emad and Laura.  This contract is binding and both parties must abide by it.

We are about to embark on a very very rough journey.  We will be BROKE.  We will not have money to dine out.  We will not have money to travel.  We will not have money to go out.  We will not have money for shopping.  We will not have money for pretty much anything except FOOD AND BILLS.  Although this journey is rough, it will be fun and full of adventure.  Although the destination is unknown, there is great optimism and hope that it will be a fantastic one.

Why can’t Emad keep his well-paying job and be like everyone else?  Because he is either CRAZY or STUPID and because he is NOT like everyone else.  Laura ACCEPTS the fact that Emad is crazy and/or stupid and loves him for it.

Initials ____/_____

Why is Emad doing this?  Because life is too short to not chase your dreams and his dream is to build an awesome software company.  Laura accepts that fact and will support him in every way possible.

Initials ____/_____

Below are a set of rules, commitments and responsibilities that both Emad and Laura must agree to.

Laura’s Roles & Responsibilities

  1. Must NOT interrupt Emad while office door is closed unless matter is urgent.
  1. A funny youtube video is NOT urgent.
  2. Nothing on CNN is urgent (unless life threatening to us or family)
  1. Must EMAIL Emad instead of calling him on the phone
  2. If phone must be used, she shall keep phone conversations UNDER ONE MINUTE.
  1. Emad has the right to hang up (or stop listening) after 1 minute.
  1. Must NOT ask Emad what he wants to eat – simply tell him “we are going to eat XXX”.  Emad doesn’t care and will eat anything
  2. Must know that Emad CANNOT read her mind.  If she needs something, she must ask directly.
  3. Must understand that Emad has NO IDEA why she is mad or in a bad mood and automatically assumes he has done something wrong – refer to point #5
  4. Must NOT argue about anything with Emad
  5. If arguments must be had, they must be resolved within ONE HOUR.  Emad CANNOT work or sleep until all arguments/disagreements are settled
  1. Will NOT use iPhone or Laptop in bed
  2. Must CUT DOWN on spending and MUST COMPLAIN about Emad’s wasteful spending
  3. Must NEVER ask Emad “are you busy today?” or “do you have work to do?”, because the answer is ALWAYS yes and if she needs something, just ask (see point #5)
  4. If Emad is in a bad mood or looks stressed, she must know that it has NOTHING to do with her and is work related.  If it isn’t work related Emad will let her know.

Initials ____/_____

Emad’s Roles & Responsibilities

  1. Must put Laura’s needs ahead of EVERYTHING else
  2. Must allocate ONE NIGHT of quality time per week for Laura – Can be used to hang out, watch a movie, relax, go out, or do WHATEVER LAURA WANTS etc…
  3. Must be PRESENT in the moment when hanging out with Laura and/or friends
  4. Must have dinner with Laura 5 times a week
  5. Must NOT use phone or any device during dinner or whenever Laura is present
  6. Must NOT spend any money on gadgets unrelated to work
  7. Must stay FOCUSED on work and not get distracted by Internet
  8. Must NOT argue about anything with Laura
  9. If arguments must be had, they must be resolved within ONE HOUR
  10. Must be more PATIENT and thoughtful
  11. Must think before he talks (it could save him tons of time)
  12. Must NOT get angry too quickly.  If unavoidable, go for a 20 MINUTE WALK.
  13. Must NOT talk about work ALL the time

Initials ____/_____


You can also download a word version from


How have you dealt with your spouse when you started your startup? Do you have any advice?  Please share what you have done right or wrong to help me and others.  Thanks.
PS: I plan to blog about my startup journey on this blog, you can get updates by email or follow me on Google+