Whenever I’m having conversations with people who are entrepreneurs for some reason, we always seem to divert into the impact of friends and family on entrepreneurship. How friends and family make or have made either positive or negative impact on the growth, development and success of our individual businesses. A lot of people have also complained to me about how unsupportive their family and friends are. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard some really good stories of supportive friends and family.
When we decide to start-up a business, the first people we usually discuss our plans with are our family members (mostly nuclear family) and close friends. We turn to them for advice, information, financial support and most importantly, motivation and guidance. These people are our support system, our backbone and the shoulders to cry on when our businesses are not thriving. The last thing we would expect is to be ridiculed for living our dreams or to be ignored when we are explaining our plans.
Fortunately for me, my family especially my mum has been really supportive. She’s awesome! I’ve stated in my previous posts that I have been known to be the jack-of-all-trades. I have had a lot of business ideas that I haven’t pursued for one reason or other and my mum and sisters have been incredibly supportive all the way. But, in terms of friends, hmmm, I have had my own fair share of unsupportive friends. I have a few tales to tell about how unsupportive a few of my friends have been.
The truth is that we all have unsupportive people lurking around in our lives. Before I decided to officially publish my Blog, I spoke to some friends about my plans to own a blog and a few of the responses I got were shocking. A really close friend of mine never for once asked me about it after I told her countless of times. She just wasn’t interested. Even when I opened the blog on a computer right in front of her, her glance was barely 3 seconds long (and yes I counted it). She made no remarks at all, not even a bad comment (at least that would have shown she saw something). Was I disappointed and upset? Yes! I was upset because I am the type that likes to check up on people about their plans especially if they keep informing me about it.
The worst response I got was when a friend said to me “your plans are the least of my problems”. I just jejely close my mouth and said to myself; it is well.
I have come to realise that not everybody is going to be happy with you venturing out by yourself. You need to understand that some friends and families are part of the overwhelming population of people who do not understand entrepreneurship. Your mindset changed the day you decided to become an entrepreneur. You have decided that your current position “ko le werk”. It is temporary and you need to step up your game.
Your unsupportive family and friends are no longer on the same page with you. They are probably thinking of how flat you will fall on your bottom and run back to them because “they told you so”. Some people might make you feel like that business plan of yours is the greatest mistake of your life and it will never work. Others will make horrible remarks about how this isn’t your first business and you are nothing but a quitter/failure.
Unsupportive people usually hide under the disguise of trying to help when really they are envious you might become successful. Some are just scared they might no longer be in the same league as you when you become successful. They are comfortable with your status quo and would like you to remain that way. Not everyone likes change.
The amazing part about being an entrepreneur is that strangers become our greatest allies. The people who we never imagine contribute more to our success than our friends and family. They are the ones who are ever ready to give advice, motivation and even financial support. The people who share and advertise our businesses without us asking. They are the ones who are quick to connect you with a friend of their friends who know someone that can help you. I met a lady at my university library one day and I have learned so much from her. She’s always there to listen to me and encourage me. We talk for hours on phone just talking about how to make a positive impact in our lives. Two friends of mine started sharing my posts on Facebook without me asking. I made a new friend beacuse of that.
Now, let’s not be too quick to jump the gun on those people who we deem to be unsupportive. They might be busy with their own ventures. We can’t always have a person’s attention when we need it. I’m sure I haven’t checked up on some people too; I do apologise.
We need to understand that people are not obligated to help us. It’s a choice they have to make for themselves. Some people may feel they have nothing to offer because your business is not within their area of expertise and might not work for you. Some might also not be willing to go the extra mile to help because they don’t feel close enough to you. It may also be that they are unaware you are actually seeking support from them (be clear about your intentions).
Understand that just because people are unsupportive doesn’t mean your business goals are not valuable. Just have it in mind that if anything, your business goals are probably worth more than you would ever dream. Therefore, don’t limit yourself based on people’s opinions and ensure you pursue your goals. When the people around us don’t provide enough validation and support, don’t be too quick to write them off as being unsupportive. Concentrate on your goals and appreciate the people who support you.