Judgment, like charity, begins at home.
You’re considering being an entrepreneur. Or, maybe you’ve already started your own business. It’s scary enough to put yourself and your services or products out there. You’re not only worrying about getting your business off the ground; you’re also worrying whether people will react negatively to your efforts to sell them a product or service — or, even worse, make fun of you.
All of that is bad enough. But what do you do when the negativity comes from a friend or family member?
With friends like these, who needs haters?
When someone who is supposed to love you doesn’t support your business, it seems to confirm your deepest doubts and fears. “I knew it!” you might think to yourself. “I can’t do this. How can I even imagine being a successful business owner, when my own friends and family won’t support me?”
Here are a few important things you should consider before you think about closing the door on your business dreams, or before walking away from a relationship or friendship.
- You’re not alone.
You are not the first entrepreneur in history to have a friend or relative, or even multiple friends and relatives, not support your business.
There’s a long list of business owners, artists, writers and other professionals who had to deal with unsupportive family and friends while pursuing their dreams. This list includes comic book writer Kurt Busiek (who wrote for Marvel Comics’ “The Avengers” series among other popular comic series).
- Someone’s judgment might come from good intentions.
Sometimes, judgment or criticism is just a convincing disguise for someone’s genuine concern. For example, they may be worried about how you will deal with small disappointments and setbacks that often happen when starting your first business. Your family or friends might also worry about the harsh criticism and insults we could face from customers and other people.
Their instinct is to try to protect you — and they may be trying to do that by testing you.
When this happens, treat the criticism as a possible sign of what you may get from the public and use it to make changes. People who don’t know you may simply ignore you — and that’s less helpful than criticism you can use to get better.
- Talk to another friend (or family member).
Almost every family, and group of friends, is a mixture of different personalities. Usually, some family members or friends will be more supportive than others. Make it a point to schedule some time during your usual week to talk to at least one or two friends and/or family members who are supporting your work.
- Get out.
Join online groups for young entrepreneurs, or for groups related to your type of business. Find a local group for business owners, or related to your industry, that regularly meets in person.
Not only will you find support, but you will also find answers to your specific business questions and problems. You might even get advice on how other business owners are currently dealing with unsupportive family and friends.
We often think of being an entrepreneur as a solitary activity. It shouldn’t always be this way.
If you want to share your product or service with other people, you need to reach out for help and support.
Not everyone is going to jump at the chance to support you. It hurts to know this, but it’s okay.
Your job is to find the people who will support you. You might make new friends while doing so. And you might become even closer to some of your current friends and family members who are ready to support you and your business.