One of the most unfortunate – and most common- situations that young entrepreneurs face is a family that’s not supportive. While your friendships can be replaced, however reluctantly, your family cannot. Living with (literally or not) parents or siblings who do not understand, or simply refuse to support your entrepreneurial aspirations, can often be the breaking point for many early-stage entrepreneurs.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What is their real reason for not supporting you?
- Are they unclear about what you’re doing?
- Have they been saving money for the past 20 years to send you to med school?
- Have they failed at an entrepreneurial attempt themselves?
- Do they know of others who have?
- Do they doubt your ability, due to age, lack of experience, or preconceived notions about what they think you can or can’t do?
It’s very important to put your own feelings aside for a moment and look at your situation objectively. Once you understand the underlying reasons, face the pessimists directly with a loving confrontation or a plea for understanding.
Once you understand your family’s motivations, the next thing to do is launch your own family PR campaign. No, this is not a joke. Anyone who has ever been in this horrible situation knows how difficult these circumstances can be. Hopefully, the following suggestions will help you over come any bad family vibes that you may be receiving.
- Bring your success stories home with you. Send you family copies of client letters or emails that praise your work. Show them a customer’s check for payment. Share any articles about your company for the media with them. Tack them up on the refrigerator or bulletin board – somewhere visible to everyone in the house.
- Let them know how happy your business makes you. Seeing you their children happy and actively pursuing goals will usually make any parent happy.
- Discuss your endeavor with their friends who understand business, have children who are not enterprising, or just simply like you. Once they show interest and understanding for you and your business venture, mention that you wish your parents felt the same way. (This works with relatives too.) They’ll feel so badly for you that they might just take up the issue with your family themselves. Let other people put a little pressure on your family to cut you some slack and show you the respect you deserve for what you are doing. Unfortunately, friends or respected peers are often more likely to recognize your achievements publicly than your family is. Despite how close you might be, it’s not uncommon for people to need outside opinions to really open up their perspective – particularly about their own children.
- Be sure to avoid neglecting family responsibilities because of your business, whether they involve family gatherings or doing the dishes. Be your own person, your own boss – but do your best to show your family that they still hold an important place in your life.
- Find the most nurturing and supportive person in your family – your mother, father, uncle, grandmother – whoever is most sympathetic to your overall happiness. The more people you get on your side, the better.
- Collect a few stories about people like you who created successful companies. Whether it is the corner grocer or one of the entrepreneurial giants, know their stories well, particularly the vital facts: How old they were when they started, their experience, their family’s support (or lack of), their resources, and current success markers (sales, employees, clients, etc.).
- Avoid sharing business problems or frustrations with them. If they really aren’t supportive of your venture, your mishaps will only fuel their desire to intervene further, or proclaim that they “told you so.”
- Show them that you have researched your business and have a clear understanding of your options, environment, and chances of success. If you are uncertain about your chances, be honest with them and tell them that despite your own doubts you feel that the experience will be well worth any potential failure. After all, the best way entrepreneurs learn about business is by being in business.
- Be someone that not only they, but you yourself, can be proud of.