When you're excited about a new business idea, and you bring it to your loved ones full of energy, they can either lift you up or suck the wind out of your sails. The fact is, you need and want your loved ones' support, so helping them learn to love your business will ultimately help you succeed.
"Undertaking a business venture when you don't have mutual buy-in is risky," says Allison Tabor, a consultant for families in business and founder of Coppia Communications.
The most important thing your family needs to know is that you have their interests at heart. "Entrepreneurs are usually motivated by a desire to be a provider while doing what they love," Tabor says.
Get your family on board with these four tips:
1. Keep your family informed. To win your loved ones' support, you need to be clear about exactly what you're getting into with this venture. Give them an overview of the business plan, including how you intend to succeed. Tell them why you believe in your idea and what you might need to give up in order to achieve it.
Most importantly, be honest when you talk about the business, and the impact it will have on your time and finances. "If you're trying to keep someone's ongoing cooperation by misleading them, that will backfire," Tabor says. Your honesty will give your partner a sense of control and help alleviate uncertainty or fear.
2. Acknowledge concerns. Your partner may be scared about how your business will affect the family, especially if you have a lot on the line financially. "Being an entrepreneur is not for the weak of heart," Tabor says.
If your partner is less comfortable with risk or less excited about your idea, let them know that's okay and address their concerns. If they feel heard, they will be much more likely to encourage you to follow your passion.
3. Carve out protected family time. Lack of quality time together is a common complaint for anyone close to a busy entrepreneur. "A lot of business owners have an absence of presence with someone," Tabor says, meaning they're physically present but mentally or emotionally distracted.
When work feels all-consuming, set aside time when business is off-limits. Commit to being fully present at nightly dinners, weekend outings, or an evening walk with your partner. Choose a time you want to protect and stick with it unless there's a genuine crisis.
4. Set limits together. From depleted savings to second mortgages, new or growing businesses can put enormous financial strain on a family. Before you're stuck in the heat of the moment, set ground rules about how much your partner is willing to sacrifice, personally and financially. "You need to know their threshold," Tabor says.
At the same time, be clear that the business will hit roadblocks and let your partner know what those might look like. If they're prepared, they'll be more likely to stay supportive when you're struggling.