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Starting a business is tough. Starting it without a strong support network in place? Even harder.
It’s natural to feel that friends and family are supposed to be our biggest supporters – the ones believing in us when nobody else will. That they should back us up on whatever we set our minds and hearts to, because they love and care for us. Unfortunately, with any major life change, this isn’t always the case.
It can be incredibly demoralizing when we reveal our entrepreneurial intentions to those closest to us, and they ultimately shut us down. For many aspiring entrepreneurs, it can cause them to withdrawal from their idea completely, shelving it off into the back of their minds forever.
For your sake and for your family’s sake, do not let that be the case.
This painful hardship can be overcome, and in fact, you may even be able to turn it into an advantage.
Let’s look at what to do when your friends or family do not support your business.
Before We Begin, We Must Accept A Hard Reality
You’re not entitled to the support of your loved ones.
They do not owe it to you.
And yes, they can still love and care for you, without supporting your decisions.
This is a hard thing to accept, but an important one. They may hold you and your idea in the highest regard, but ultimately believe whole-heartedly they are acting in your best interest to discourage your ambitions.
At the same time, there may be situations where your starting a business acts against their best interests, sometimes in a significant way. For example, a spouse who is quitting their job (that the family relies on) because they’re convinced the business will succeed before savings dry up.
It is unreasonable to expect people to support decisions that may put them at risk in some way, and again – even if this is not the case, their support is not owed.
Accepting this fact will make it far easier to cope with things later on.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at some of the practical steps to take when your friends or family don’t approve of you pursuing entrepreneurship.
1. Avoid Arguing About It
Entrepreneurs are a different class of people.
We see things differently, and the entire way we look at the world is fundamentally different.
Our desires, values, and approach to life – these are all things that do not resonate with the majority of people.
It does not matter how good your business idea is, or how qualified you are to execute it. In almost all cases, you will not be able to convince a non-entrepreneur that whatever you’re planning to do will be worth it.
They would not believe in themselves to do this (because they are not entrepreneurs) and as a result, they will not believe you’re able to do it either. At they very least, they do not think you should.
They cannot understand entrepreneurs in the same way that we can’t understand why they would want to work 40+ hours a week for someone else at a job they hate.
If they could not convince you to willingly pursue that, it’s understandable that you likely won’t be able to convince them why entrepreneurship is such a great thing either. Especially since the reality is, most new businesses fail.
Therefore, do not waste energy trying to convince others why you are right. Instead, help them understand why you’re making the choices that you are making.
2. Explain Your Intentions
People do not have to agree with you in order to see things from your point of view.
Take some time to sit down with your family and discuss why you’re pursing entrepreneurship in the first place. Explain what prompted this in your mind, and why you feel like now is the time to move forward with it. Talk about your expectations in the short and long-term, and what benefits you’re hoping to receive out of it all.
When I started this website back up (after getting my baby product brand Kinacle off the ground), my partner was understandably worried about this choice. Although she supported me completely, she wondered if Kinacle would be at risk by diverting some of my attention away from it.
I explained to her that this was a necessary step for our long-term future – that my personal brand was something that I really could do forever, and still live the life that we both want. Unlike my eCommerce brands, this is something I can still pursue when we’re traveling the world, or after we’ve had kids.
When people are uncertain, their minds often jump to the worst case scenario. A brief conversation to share your vision and give your loved ones a more complete picture can go a long way – helping them feel more positive and optimistic with whatever’s next.
3. Take Away Their Excuses – Minimize The Impact The Business Has On Them
We’ve touched on this point a bit already, but it’s worth repeating.
If you want people to support your business, you have to start by minimizing the negative impact it has on them.
Some things that friends and family may worry about include…
- You changing as a person – they love you as you are.
- Time being lost with you – they may not see you as much.
- Financial risks – this is particularly a concern with family that you’re currently supporting financially.
- Inconveniences that involve them in some way.
- Egotistical issues – your success makes them feel bad about themselves.
Some of these can be solved easily. Rearranging your schedule and prioritizing quality time over quantity of time can help with the time issues. Bootstrapping your business can minimize financial risk.
The last one however is a bit more difficult. Even those closest to us may secretly want us to fail, because our success makes them feel bad about themselves.
They may wish they had the courage or skill to successfully start a business, and you doing so is a reminder that they failed to try. They may crave the prestige and the praise of others, and actively resent you for it.
If you stay right where you are now, they maintain their current place in the social hierarchy. You do not pose a threat.
Unfortunately, this may be a sign it’s time to cut ties with this person. While you may be able to prolong the relationship by involving them in your success in some way, the core of these relationships are toxic and can only hurt you in the long run.
4. Push On Without Them
Regardless of what your friends and family may be pushing on you, it’s important that you push on anyway.
You came up with this idea for a reason, and you must go through with it. If you don’t, you’ll only resent those that played a part in your decision to back down. You’ll wonder, ‘what if’ and picture what could have been, only to end up less happy than you were before.
Entrepreneurship is full of difficulties, and there will be people that are against you at every step of the way.
From the competitors trying to crush you to the hidden enemies that will try to take away your success, you’re always going to be dealing with people that don’t support you in one way or another.
By pushing onward now, you are preparing yourself for the battles you will face in the future. You’re building a framework of self-belief that is vital to lasting in the competitive world of business.
If you let friends and family talk you out of your business idea, you probably wouldn’t have made it anyway.
It is far better to try it out and ultimately fail, than to fail by never starting in the first place. At the very least, you will not live with regret – you will have the satisfaction of giving it a real try. You will also learn incredibly valuable lessons that will make it easier to succeed in the future.
I’m Here To Support You When Nobody Else Will
Sometimes, all you need is one person.
One person to share your ideas with that won’t reject them, and actually give solid feedback and advice. One person to talk to when times get tough, and you don’t know where to turn. One person to talk to and strategize with, to push you in a positive direction and stay by your side as you start to make moves.
I want to be that person for you.
I share a lot of helpful business content – on here, on YouTube, and around the web in general. Content that has helped thousands of business owners get off the ground running, and continue taking things to the next level.
Nothing I do has a great impact however than my one-on-one coaching and mentoring program.
Through one-on-one coaching I will be able to work with you to help you achieve your business and life goals. We will meet several times a month to strategize, share tactics and ideas, and take practical next steps for your specific business.
Any time you have a question, you need help with a decision, or you just want to share something with me, I’m a message away on Skype. I’m in your corner, there for you, and supporting you whenever you need it.
Although it would be ideal if our family and friends supported our business ventures, unfortunately this often isn’t the case.
While I’ve shared a bit of advice here, I can’t promise you that it is guaranteed to work. Regardless of what you do, you just may never get them to see things your way.
But that’s fine. You don’t need them to.
I’d love it if you shared your story with me, as I understand this is a very personal topic.
To your success,
– James McAllister
Review the main points of this article in the SlideShare below. Feel free to embed this on your site, use it in your organization, and share it with others! All I ask is that you give credit! (Download links are available from SlideShare’s website, which you can access by clicking the LinkedIn icon)