How to Tell Your Family “I am an Entrepreneur”
Selling your entrepreneurial dream to your family might be the greatest sales pitch you will ever create. For the middle class Indian entrepreneur, the journey to success begins with selling the business plan to his or her risk-averse family.
When we asked thousands of Indians what fulfils them, 28% said ‘family’. Yet many also shared that family can sometimes impede fulfilment.
So how can you convince your family that you are making the right decision for your future? Luckily, we’ve got four entrepreneurs who succeeded in winning their loved ones over.
1. Communicate and Demonstrate
Most entrepreneurs point out that it is important to be honest with your family. According to Soura Bhattacharya, CEO of Lattice Innovations, a medical diagnostics imaging development firm in Delhi, if your parents or spouse feel the pinch from your decision to start a venture, something is wrong.
“Your loved ones are concerned about your financial well-being — that is the primary reason for them not being on board with your start-up decision. To assuage their doubts, be open and assure them that your monthly contributions to the kitty of family expenses continue uninterrupted.
“And don't just tell them that you will be successful, demonstrate it. Because getting your parents’ support for a new venture can make a huge difference emotionally and even financially,” explains Bhattacharya.
2. Share Your Hard Work
So how can you demonstrate your path to success? Start by studying.
“It's easier to break the news to one's parents if you can say that you've done thorough research on what you're building and someone is ready to put money behind the idea,” explains Vibhav Joshi, co-founder of Sattva Medtech, a MedTech start-up out of BITS Goa.
But you will have to take bigger steps, too. Joshi points out that he had interned with a similar start-up, to understand how a company is built, before he ventured out on his own.
Aside from research and figures, get out there and network. Even demonstrating you already have exciting contacts and a wad of business cards is a healthy step forward.
3. Understand the Concerns
“Being a first generation entrepreneur, it was very difficult for me to convince my family and my in-laws who married their daughter with me when I was a good-earning executive,” recalls Bharat Bhardwaj, founder of TopDoctorsOnline.com, an online medical portal.
That’s understandable. “The middle class Indian family feels comfortable with a regular monthly salary, rather than taking a risk for business,” Bhardwaj says.
“But seeing my passion to create something big for society, my wife supported me wholeheartedly. I told my family, ‘Why work for someone else when one has the opportunity to work for oneself, which gives more flexibility in terms of quality time for family priorities?’”
Tip: Failure is a dominant part of starting your business, so get comfortable with making mistakes more than once. And as you learn to make this a part of your life, be sure your family understands it too — tripping up is okay, as long as you keep getting back up again.
4. Involve the Family as Business Partners
According to Aparajita Agrawal, director of Sankalp Forum, an innovation event management business, entrepreneurs often start by taking a loan from family members — but the donors do not usually get involved in the business.
Turn that around by seeing them as partners. “Wouldn’t the support automatically start coming in if you were to treat your family much as a start-up entrepreneur would treat an angel investor?” asks Agrawal.
She also recommends using relatable examples of people you know who started up too, to show that yes, success stories do exist.
Tip: At the end of the day, it’s your business, and you’ll grow to love managing even the smallest of decisions: what colour should my logo be? How will staff answer the phone? As you involve the family, make sure they understand that these small decisions are anything but unimportant; they form the backbone of your whole company.
5. Show the Love
Sometimes selling an idea is about more than the cold hard bottom line. Often, what convinces family members is how passionate you feel. So don’t bottle up the energy and charisma that made you decide to become an entrepreneur in the first place. Forward them each email showing you closed a deal, and call them afterward so they can share in your excitement.
Do a bit of soul-searching as well, so your loved ones understand that there is real depth to your ambition. Ask yourself, ‘How do I want to change the world? What does this project mean to me?’ Then share that answer. As the scholar Joseph Campbell says, “Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures.”