5 Things to Consider Before Telling Family & Friends about Your Business Idea
Entrepreneurs, while seemingly wired slightly differently (in that they tend to be resilient and confident risk-takers), are still human. As an entrepreneur with a startup business idea, you want the support of your family and friends like everyone else, and perhaps have your idea “approved” or “validated”. That’s completely normal.
Ideally, you’ll tell your family all about this exciting business you’re thinking of starting, and come out of it feeling energised, supported and, most importantly, safe – in whatever sense of the word. Safe that they’ll support you no matter what, safe that they’ll love you even if you fail miserably.
But not everything happens the way you imagine it.
First, How Sharing with Family Could Help Your Business – My Story
Fortunately, my experience telling my family went better than expected. It was a pleasant surprise, and I did come out of it feeling totally energised and supported.
I had initially told my mum about YVOXS in May 2017 as I have absolute trust in her opinions and gut feeling. I said, “Mum, I want to quit my job and start an online business selling business document templates. I want it to become the go-to place for startup business resources.” And while this might sound like a very straight-forward way of laying out my ideas and intentions, in reality, I couldn’t have sounded less confident! I was waiting for her to tell me that it’s not a great idea to abandon job and financial security to start an online business that revolves around a model that has existed as long as businesses have existed.
Instead, she squealed in excitement and told me how proud of me she was.
So, the next step was to tell the rest of my immediate family – my dad and brother. And funnily enough, I didn’t even really have to explain in depth about the business to get their support. They were immediately on board, and my parents added, “You’re young. Just give it a go and do your best and see what happens! If you ever need help, you know you can reach out to us. We believe in you completely.”
So I quit my job and launched the website.How telling your family about your business idea could potentially help your #businessClick To Tweet
Two months later, I was visiting home to see my extended family on both mum’s and dad’s sides. It had been two months of nothing, unless you count worrying about what I’m going to do when I eventually run out of my savings. Out of a desperate attempt to preserve my dignity, I begged my mum not to share about my business to any of our relatives; I had planned to lie to them and say I still work full-time at the previous company.
Well, as mums sometimes do, she didn’t listen.
Arriving at the family gathering, I was half disappointed in my mum for telling my “secret”, and half nervous about what my relatives were going to say. It’s a nerve-wracking experience, walking into a room where you expect to have your already-low self-esteem get completely crushed.
You know where this story is going – my relatives, 100% of them, were more encouraging and supportive than I would ever have imagined! My uncle, who’s had a couple of successful and unsuccessful businesses, poured me a drink to congratulate me and told me how emotionally difficult running a business can be, but that he thinks it’s worth it just for the lessons you’ll learn about yourself. My auntie sat me aside and told me to reach out to her if I ever need to vent or need some help. My grandparents seemed to look at me in a different light and said they’re proud of seeing me as a young woman who is willing to try something that most people don’t dare to.
The best part of this was that there were no expectations and no pressure to “succeed”.
And, well, this experience changed my attitude.
When I got back from seeing them, I felt a surge of energy that I had been progressively losing in just the first two months of starting YVOXS. Over the next few weeks, the constant pressure I was putting on myself to get everything right the first time and the unrealistic expectations of seeing results immediately started to slowly subside. It was my family’s unwavering support and belief in me, and the assurance that their view of me won’t be affected by the success of my business, that brought me back down to earth and helped me to think more clearly about the next steps.
Don’t get me wrong; It’s not that their support magically helped me become successful overnight. I’ve still got a long ways to go and I still have days when I feel uncertain about everything. But it’s that my family’s encouragement helped me to take it easy, go slower, and not be so harsh on myself. It helped me to give myself room to breathe, and to stop judging myself based on the performance of my business.
Why Telling Your Family Might Not Be the Best Idea
Telling my family about my business (or more accurately, my mum going with her gut feeling to tell them) and sharing my fear and hesitance was the best thing I did for my business.
But I’m one of the lucky ones.
As we all know, our loved ones are not always as supportive as we want them to be. After all, I wouldn’t have been feeling so nervous about telling mine in the first place if I always felt supported by them!
Family and friends can say things that, unbeknownst to them, completely kill your confidence. What they mean as a cautionary tale or a prompt to help you consider other possibilities, can sometimes work as the merciless weapon that destroys your self-esteem and fills you with self-doubt.
“Oh, in this economy?”
“Hmm. Isn’t XX already doing that? And they’re much cheaper.”
“I don’t know. I personally would never use it.”
“But how will you pay for everything?”
And the worst of all,
“Do you think it’s fair on your partner and/or your kids?”
Even considering these possible responses, you might still decide to tell them. And ultimately, it’s your decision and what you’re comfortable with. But if you’re considering your options on whether or not to share your business ideas with your family, consider the following 5 points to help you decide.
Do you have a good relationship with them?
Of course, the most obvious factor in deciding whether you tell your family and friends about your business idea is the general nature of your relationship with them. Are you close? Do you talk often? Are you generally supportive of each other?
How would they feel if they found out you had kept it a secret from them for a few weeks or months? And more importantly, how would you feel?
If the feeling of guilt overwhelms you, then it might be worth telling them even if you’re afraid of their reactions. In a close relationship, it’s hard to hide such a big and important part of your life as a business. Avoiding their questions about your job or even lying to them might not be worth it.
Are they your ideal customers?
More often than not, your family and friends are not your ideal customers. They’re not like your potential customers who will open their wallets to purchase something you’ve got to offer. So, if your family or friends are not the type of people you need to win over, are their opinions as important as you might think?
This is about the type of people who won’t try to hide their disapproval, jealousy or general negativity about your business idea. If you have a good idea that you’ll be met with mocking and all the reasons why it won’t work, it might be okay not to share your future plans with them.
Do you value their opinions?
While your family and friends might not be your target market, they can be a source of information that you hadn’t considered. If you know someone who has had business experience, it might be worth getting their input even if they might not be an expert in your area. And on the plus side, people with business experience are more likely to have a similar entrepreneurial mindset as you and understand where you’re coming from.
Just keep in mind however, that every business is different and you won’t necessarily mirror their experiences. So, take what you can from them, learn from their mistakes and advice, and ask specific questions, but learn to filter out the information that is not at all relevant to you.
Do you know how to combat the stats-obsessed peeps?
“You know that 90% of startup businesses fail in the first year, right?”
They start off with something like this and then go into more detail about how slim your chances of success are and how competitive your industry is. They’ll conceal these unhelpful comments under the guise of “just trying to look out for you.”
Well, where were they when you were doing your research?!
Now, if your family or friends are likely to respond like this, first consider whether you’re prepared to hear it and how you might respond. If you decide that you don’t know how to deal with them, it might not be worth telling them until you feel ready.
These comments can bring down your confidence by forcing you to see yourself as one of the many nameless people that have failed. Instead, what you should focus on is the potential of your success and your unwavering determination despite knowing these stats. And more often than not, these are the people that would turn around and tell you why your success was inevitable once they witness how well you’re doing!
“The government had just put in XXX to support small businesses when you first started.”
“Your same idea wouldn’t work now in this economy!”
Most importantly, are you ready for your business?
Entrepreneurs might have different reasons for telling family and friends about their business ideas. Some might just want to share this life-changing event that they’re about to embark on, and some might just want to feel the love and support. Some might also want to share while subconsciously looking for reasons why they shouldn’t start a business.
Do you know why you want to tell your family and friends?
There is nothing wrong with being open to hear criticism and cautionary tales, then re-evaluating your ideas to end up deciding that you need more preparation or research. After all, being able to hear others’ opinions to use as your advantage is one of the very important skills that entrepreneurs have.
On the other hand, if you find yourself being easily swayed and discouraged on something you felt certain about just a few minutes ago, then you might want to think harder about your intentions. Negative comments, jealousy and mocking may never stop no matter how well your business does. There will be people who constantly try to bring you down. No matter the scale of your business, there will be people around you that secretly can’t wait to see you fail.
So, are you ready for it?If you're starting a #business, read why it's OK not to tell your family and friends about it!Click To Tweet
Entrepreneurs seem crazy to people who don’t share their mindset and don’t understand why you’re willingly choosing a more difficult path than the safe one you already have. When people don’t understand you, they’re likely to try and convert your thought processes to match theirs. It’s just the unfortunate curse that you have to deal with as an entrepreneur!
The most important thing to remember when dealing with negative comments is to take them with a grain of salt. Nobody but you can determine the life you create for yourself!