Starting a business is HARD. And when you don’t have the support of your family and friends behind you, the task is even more challenging.
Though I had been freelancing for years before I left my day job to grow my business, I nearly gave myself an ulcer thinking about how I was going to tell my parents I quit my steady, dependable paycheck. See, I might I have a reputation for making rash decisions based on emotion, without thinking through the financial ramifications first. But the “powers that be” at work delivered the last straw. And I turned in my resignation.
I remember the call to my parents, with me spouting off every reason why my business would be successful and why quitting my day job was a good idea—before my parents could even ask me one question. Even at 40 years old, I was terrified of how they’d react. So I spewed my guts, likely repeating each point of reason multiple times. Finally, my dad told me to shut up (literally) and both of my parents expressed that they were excited to see where my business took me.
Talking to other business owners now, I realize how lucky I am. I come from an entrepreneurial family. My grandfather owned a cattle company for 40+ years, my dad had an accounting software company when I was growing up and my sister has her own CPA firm. My mom was in on the action too, both creating and selling her own handmade goods and helping my dad in his business when I was a kid. And I don’t have a spouse or significant other that I need to justify my income to—just a daughter to feed. So when I left my day job, I had a family who understood what I was doing and why and a daughter at home to give me the motivation I needed to kick butt.
But there are so many out there who don’t have the backing of their family and friends. With not one friend in business for him- or herself, I do see the side of loved ones who just don’t understand. It takes a firm stance on time and finances to help them “get” what you’re up to.
[bctt tweet=”Take a firm stance on boundaries and finances when it comes to helping loved ones understand your biz.” username=””]
Have you heard any of these gems?
- “Must be nice to not have to work.”
- “You get to make up your own schedule.”
- “I wish I could spend all day on Facebook too.”
- “So what do you do all day?”
- “You don’t understand. You don’t have a real job.”
- “Since you don’t really work, can you take me to the airport?”
Um, HELL-O! Yes, I do work all day. Well, most days. And I also work a lot of evenings and weekends. So, no, I can’t go out to lunch on a whim because you have the day off. And no, I can’t watch your sick two-year-old tomorrow because you need to go to work. Because guess what? I do too. <rant over> And, granted, I thankfully can help a friend out from time to time. Or have an adult beverage with you at lunch. But that doesn’t mean I can do it regularly. Because I can’t.
It’s been hard, setting boundaries. I’ve had to have some difficult conversations. But given time, people will come around.
My biggest piece of advice: Don’t take it personally.
Think about the kind of business you’re running. Are you doing most of your marketing online? Spending a lot of time in Facebook groups, interacting with like-minded business owners? Accepting PayPal as your payment method of choice?
[bctt tweet=”Your online biz is a new concept to loved ones. Don’t take it personally. Keep pushing on!” username=””]
People just don’t “get” that. It’s a different way of doing business. Shoot, when I graduated from college in 1995, I never dreamed that I’d be running a business online. The internet wasn’t much of a “thing” then, and my first jobs out of college involved writing and laying out print brochures and magazines to help market the organizations where I worked. We sent mailers. We printed flyers. We didn’t use Facebook ads or tweet-chats to get the word out about our events—which were all held on location, by the way. And Instagram? Try printed photos in an album. Digital cameras didn’t exist, at least not in the way we know them today.
Online business is a difficult concept to grasp, even for the most tech-savvy professionals. I dated someone in the tech industry and he used to stare at me blankly when I talked about how I was marketing myself. I honestly think that for the 2+ years we dated, he really had no idea what I did for a living—no matter how many times I tried to explain it.
Don’t take personally the fact that people aren’t on board with your business. Easier said than done, but there are plenty of creative entrepreneurs out there who do get it—and who are there to support you.
And know that your loved ones will get there. And if they still don’t understand, at the very least they’ll respect what you’re doing as they watch you build and grow a successful business. Keep your head down and keep pushing on.