I had lunch with a friend of mine recently who told me he had a great idea for a small business. This friend has been stuck in a 9-5 job for a few years now and has been playing with the idea of starting a side business for a while.
After we started talking he told me that he’s not as excited about this idea as he was when he set up this lunch meeting. When I asked him why he said it was because a friend of his told him it’s a bad idea with little success potential and his girlfriend thought it’s a waste of time because he already has a good job and she doesn’t think he’ll see this project through.
Harsh words from the people closest to you, right?
That reminded me of 2 very important things one should know and keep in mind at all times when pursuing an adventure such as starting their own business:
1. People’s opinions should not be a factor
I know that might sound weird, because we all know that validating your idea before pursuing it is important, but for starting a small passions-oriented lifestyle business – it’s plain destructive.
Do you think that if anyone told me that starting an animation blog and writing books and courses is stupid I wouldn’t have done it?
When he told me about what happened I asked if he thought it was a good idea and that it had potential. He said yes. I asked him if he recalls a conversation with me in which I’ve asked him what he thought about my animation website idea and whether or not I should do it. He said no.
You see, nobody knows better than you about what you can do. Yes, your idea can fail and not amount up to anything, but it’s up to you. A friend can never tell you what you can or cannot do.
Nobody can truly know if a business would work or not.
When I started my website I just got up and started working. I didn’t share much with people around me and didn’t leave any room for people to have an opinion about it. I never asked “What do you think?” or “Should I do it?”
The decision to pursue a new path is yours alone, so don’t let people who will not walk that path with you dictate your future.
2. The interest of the people closest to you is to keep you just the way you are
I’m gonna say it again, because this is such a huge concept to internalize:
The interest of the people closest to you is to keep you just the way you are.
Your wife, your boyfriend, your best friend. They all chose to be with you because who you were, not who you might be. Signs of you taking a direction that might lead to you becoming someone else threatens them, and they will resist it.
If we take the story above as an example, a person who might change from a 9-5 employee to a self-employed-work-from-home-business-owner is a threatening idea. His friend might have to deal with his own fears of being stuck at a dead end job. The girlfriend might fear he becomes successful and not want to be with her anymore.
Whenever you show signs of attempting to change, your closest friends and family will be the first to show resistance because they will be the one that’s most affected by it! They will want the most secure and safe path for you, and as close as possible to what you’re already doing.
Breaking out of that could be hard and will require a lot of resolve from you.
What should you do?
You might wonder how you should approach starting a business with these obstacles in front of you?
Assuming you’re not going all in, quitting your job and building a startup, but instead approaching it as more of a side business at first, my advice is to keep it to yourself as much as you can at the beginning, and to downplay it. If you have to talk about it, try to not open it to opinions. Don’t tell people what it might be and then ask what they think. Don’t leave room for criticism.
As for the closest people in your life, such as your spouse and kids, I’d suggest dealing with a good deal of sensitivity, be aware to the fact that it might scare them and try to reassure them as much as you can that you are giving it a try only to better both your life and theirs. Take them along with you and make them feel like they’re a part of it, because they are.