SO YOU'RE AN ENTREPRENEUR: WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK?
If you were raised in a non-entrepreneur family, you may have grown up with the notion that there is one path to success: study hard, get good grades in college, and land a good, steady job. Our parents knew no different. As first generation entrepreneurs, we knew there was another way.
Maybe your parents were supportive. Or maybe they looked at you like you were crazy. They may have doubted your aspirations, or even tried to talk you out of your dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
Does it matter what your parents think now that you’re all grown up? At some level we all want our parents’ approval. How do you accomplish that when they are giving you a pained and nervous look whenever you talk about your business?
Here are some ways you can manage those well-intended, but slightly misguided parents:
Understand where they are coming from
The road to entrepreneurship is not neat and predictable, like becoming a doctor or a lawyer. There is no clear path or one set way to do it. This can be hard for non-entrepreneur parents to wrap their heads around and support. Most parents are nervous about what is unfamiliar to them, especially when it comes to the livelihood of their children. It’s not that they doubt your talents or abilities; they just can’t understand why you’d want to take on the risk.
Don’t try to convince them
Unlike second or third generation entrepreneurs, those of us who are FGEs may feel the need to make our parents understand and approve of our choice to become an entrepreneur. They may not be capable of that. This quest for understanding may turn out to be one of our greatest struggles.
Share your plans
Don’t just tell your parents you’re starting a business—tell them why and how. Invite them to your business launch party, or social networking events around the growth of your business. Introduce them to your staff and to clients, but don’t ask for permission. If you still can’t get support, take their criticism with a grain of salt. Hear it—integrate it—but don’t act on it.
The relationship we have with our parents is complicated —we’ve loved them and hated them, embraced them and rebelled against them. We’ve disappointed them and made them proud. They were our biggest cheerleaders, our harshest critics, and sometimes both—simultaneously.
It is important to remember that this is your life and your dream. If you have supportive parents—wonderful. If you have loving parents who don’t understand your career path and therefore don’t support you, that’s okay, too, as long as you can hold fast to your goals and your ideas in spite of them.