We entrepreneurs (and small business owners) are an interesting breed. We often view the world and our environments differently. We’re risk mitigators, but in others eyes, we’re absolutely insane. We have a mission and won’t stop until we’ve accomplished what we set out to do!
This is where our relationships get interesting. When we decide to take the plunge and go into business for ourselves, you realize you’re surrounded by three kinds of people. Let’s call them your friends, family, and foes.
Your friends are important. They support you 100% of the time and are always challenging your ideas. They share in your passion and enjoy providing feedback to both your good and not so good ideas. You hopefully meet new friends along the way. I’ve met these in the form of mentors, business contacts, and simply bright people whom I enjoy sharing my time with talking business. But, it’s equally important to foster your existing friendships as you continue to make new ones. Everyone in your network could potentially be an asset to your well-being in the future.
Your next type of relationship is with your family. Your family is vital to your mental stability during the start-up process. Friends tend to come and go for whatever reason, but your family will always be there to rely on. Beginning your own business can be a lengthy and isolated journey at times. A strong relationship with your loved ones will keep you well-grounded during those inevitable stressful days that accompany business ownership. Family is a great source for ideas and alternate viewpoints when it comes to crafting your concept. They’re honest and typically are looking after your best interest.
So who are these “foes”? They’re potentially the same people I just touched on. Yes, you would expect your family and friends to always be supportive, but that’s not always the case.
I didn’t realize this until my most recent start-up, but there are people who are quite selfish. Not in the form of them being only concerned about their own profit, but simply that they lack consideration for your dreams. I had friends and family who began to question what I was doing. Some would talk to me as if I was unemployed! The funny thing was, many didn’t realize they were even acting this way towards me.
I learned that the majority of the working population aren’t passionate about their job. They go into “work” every day and their borderline miserable. Although these foes may say that they want to see you succeed, the truth is they don’t want you to get any better-off than they are. In their subconscious, they don’t enjoy seeing you love what you do for a living. They may not be comfortable knowing that you will potentially become more financially stable or simply hold a better work-life balance than them in the future. It’s the hard facts, but sometimes it’s evident in the actions and words of our family and friends.
How do we spot the foes and what can we do?
They’re easy to spot. They make comments in an attempt to belittle your dreams and aspirations. They don’t enjoy sharing in your dreams because they realize that they’re not on the same path as you are (an incredible one!). Family would ask when I was going to get “a job” and if I was making the right decision, while my friends would sarcastically ask how hard my day was at “work.” Both would inquire as to how much money I’m making or how many clients I have, as if that’s the only driving factor for starting my own business. There are many more examples and I’m sure you’ll come across more if you decide to follow your dreams. These comments can get old and if you let them get to you, they can be downright depressing at times. You’ll begin to question if what you’re doing is worth the risk and if it’s overall a wise decision.
I quickly learned how I needed to handle these foes. I put anyone who wasn’t supportive of my endeavor on a mental list. This list included people who I was set out to prove wrong. In other words, it was the fuel that kept my fire burning. When those stressful days came around, I thought about all those foes who I would be proving right if I ever gave up. I didn’t lose connection with these people, but definitely made a note not to speak with them about my business in the future. I made a vow that my actions will have to speak louder than both my words as well as theirs.
At the end of the day, I encourage all aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs to do one thing. Show these foes that you are happier, more successful, and more passionate about what you’ve created for yourself. But, also make it a point to share that happiness with those who’ve truly supported you from the beginning of your journey.
Blog Post by Kyle Johnson, seeking actual responsibilities with a growing company in the area of Strategy & Business Development
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