There are endless blog posts out there that talk about life in a startup but a topic that rarely gets coverage is the impact that the startup life has on relationships. I ultimately think this is because a lot of founders learnt the hard way that building a startup can simultaneously destroy your relationships if you're not careful about how you spend your time. It's a hard lesson to learn, and not one that people necessarily like to relive much.

Building a startup is really hard work. So hard that it can be easy to forget about everything else in your life. Unfortunately this often includes those closest to you; your friends, family, even your spouse.

When I left school and started my first company I was so scared of failing that I let myself become overwhelmed by the business. In my head I couldn't afford to fail. I'd closed a lot of doors (and turned down some lifelong dreams) in order to pursue my passion. The side effect of my fear of failure was that I would regularly miss out on spending time with those closest to me; and if I ever did take any time out, I would feel guilty that I wasn't working.

Luckily I managed to maintain pretty strong relationships with most of my friends, but shortly after starting the company me and my girlfriend at the time split. The whole experience still haunts me a little today, but I sleep soundly at night knowing that I won't be making the same mistake again. I learned the lesson (albeit the hard way). You need to put those closest to you before anything else in your life. Particularly the relationship that you have with your partner.

Brad Feld has a rule that I admire a lot. He will always answer the phone when his wife calls him. It doesn't matter where he is, or what he is doing, if she calls he picks up - simple. I think this is fantastic. A simple little rule like this forces you to put your loved ones before anything else.

Maintaining strong relationships with the people closest to you whilst trying to build a company is really difficult. It's a challenge that many entrepreneurs overlook; especially first-time founders. If there was one lesson that I could pass on to first-time founders it would be not to neglect the relationships that you have with those around you. When the bad times roll around the corner you will need these people to help you stay focused, and once you're 'successful'; well success is best shared.

Matt West