My Mom Doesn't Understand! How do I convince my skeptical mom that I can start a business?
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Q: I am 21 yearsold and am starting my own homebased business. I'm a collegestudent, and I work part time. My mother is somewhat skeptical ofme starting my own business. She doesn't understand a lot aboutit. I know I can do it, and I'm going to do it. I sometimesfeel discouraged by her, and I don't know how to reassure herthat I can do this. What should I tell her? I think she feels Ishould follow the traditional role of working for someone else. Ihave never followed the crowd, and I'm very excited about thisbusiness.
A: I think I speakfor everyone reading this column when I say, "I've beenthere." The fact is, parents will always think they knowwhat's best for their children. It's just a fact of life.And sometimes they're right; sometimes they're wrong. Buthopefully I won't offend anyone by saying that in the end, whatmatters most is what you want to do, as long as you'renot dealing drugs or committing some other crime.
That said, there are ways to make your (and your mother's)life more manageable. Throughout your entrepreneurial career,should you decide to pursue this route for many years to come,you're going to come across people who will challenge youridea, for whatever reason. Sometimes it will be a competitor,sometimes it will be an investor...and sometimes it will be yourmother. At every turn, you've got to be prepared to handlecriticism with finesse and without getting defensive.
The best way to accomplish this feat is by knowing your businessinside and out. That way, you'll be able to weed out the badadvice and appreciate the constructive criticism. Yes, sometimespeople will have good advice for you, so you have to know how toidentify when someone's telling you something helpful. Since Idon't know specifically what kind of business you'restarting, I'll just give you some general advice about gettingintimately familiar with your business.
First of all, figure out why you're so resolved that you"know" you can start this business. It's great thatyou've got passion for what you're doing--you'll needthat just as much as you'll need a viable business idea--butit's not enough just to "know." What proof do youhave that your idea will work? Have you figured out who you'regoing to sell your product or service to? And whether they'llbuy your product or service? How much you'll sell it for? Howmuch of a net profit you can expect? How you'll fund yourbusiness? How you'll keep money coming in--will you keep yourpart-time job? It's time to do some research, if youhaven't done so already.
Your local SBAoffice or Small Business Development Center are good places to goif you're feeling overwhelmed by all these questions. SCORE also offers freee-mail counseling. These organizations can help you develop yourideas and answer all those questions you need answered.
Chances are, taking the time to do some research will not onlyput your mother's mind at ease, but also help you start yourbusiness smarter. As we've seen with the crash of countlessdotcoms, it pays to take your time during the start-up phase--andoften beyond that. Otherwise, you risk losing it all.