Being an entrepreneur can be challenging and sometimes lonely when others around you don’t understand and/or aren’t supportive of the time, money and energy it takes to start and build a business. How do you stay encouraged when there appears to be a lack of support, especially from those closest to you? Here’s where to find support, even if it feels as though your inner circle may not (yet) be on board.
(Note: this is NOT a post about what to do when everyone is encouraging you to quit – I’ll address that in another blog. This is more for when you feel as though you don’t have a close support person to whom you can talk through problems or concerns, give feedback and help cheer you on as you strive to meet new goals.)
Internal resilience is key
Even if it may appear as though no one is in your corner, if your dream, your ‘why’ (the reason for starting your business and the goals you have) is strong enough and the belief in this dream goes down deep to your core, you’ll be able to rely on yourself to get through some of the stumbling blocks that are a natural part of business ownership.
Though my husband is now on board and MUCH more supportive of my businesses than he was in the beginning, there were certainly times when I had to just tell myself to keep going. Perhaps my stubborn independence and refusal to quit played a big part, but reading my affirmations out loud and looking at my vision board every day to remind me why I was doing what I was doing helped me stay true to the course during those times in which I could have easily given up.
Joining a community of fellow entrepreneurs can be a breath of fresh air during tough times. Sharing struggles and triumphs with my fellow colleagues and friends through Indie Business Network and other entrepreneurial masterminds has been a saving grace over the years. Seek out a group of other small business owners to walk the path of entrepreneurship together. Be sure to avoid the tendency to do nothing but complain – that won’t help anyone, and may alienate you further. It’s ok to share a struggle, but immediately follow it up with what you’re doing to turn things around. This helps get you unstuck and keeps you from dwelling only on the negatives.
Your community of customers
Sometimes what you truly need is a bit of validation – that the products you make are enjoyed by and make a difference in the lives of your customers. That validation and encouragement by way of repeat orders or referrals can go a long way in strengthening your resolve to hang in there through difficult times.
Take screen shots of words of praise your customers leave on your social media pages (you should be doing this anyway and using those comments as social proof, but that’s a post for another day.) I have a stack of notes, emails and gifts from customers and clients that I go through from time to time if I need a little lift in my spirit.
Your inner circle
Now wait – this post was about your inner circle not being supportive, so how can I say this is a place you can find support? I want to encourage you to have honest and open (and most importantly: non-defensive) conversations with those from whom you most need support.
I mentioned that I didn’t feel as though my husband was on board initially with my spontaneous decision to buy a business and become an entrepreneur. It was a dramatic and very life changing decision, and he didn’t feel included in the process. I fully admit my failings in how I handled that situation. But after some very difficult conversations, things really did change. He felt more included when I wasn’t secretive about my sales and expenses, and I felt more appreciated when I’d hear those words of affirmation. For someone who tends to show affection by doing things for others, this was a big step for him. I loved and appreciated the hours he spent tending to the kids, making dinner and cleaning the house so that I could work, but what I really craved were the ‘I’m so proud of you, keep up the great work!” comments. That wouldn’t have come about unless we had open conversations about what we each needed and wanted and now our interactions around my businesses are completely different.
Don’t give up hope if your inner circle isn’t yet on board. Have those raw conversations and both sides will likely make strides to find middle ground. Until that happens, rely on yourself and other supportive people to be your personal cheerleaders.
Where else have you found people who are supportive of your business dreams? Share in the comments below.