You're going to be an entrepreneur? Now you just have to convince your parents. Here's how to break the news.
With many traditional career paths such as law becoming less secure, entrepreneurship might be comparatively less risky these days. Only plenty of parents don't believe that. To many concerned moms and dads, starting your own business is financially risky--and terribly draining. Sure, it can have big rewards when it comes to life satisfaction (or net worth), but the path is steep and difficult. Shouldn't you just get a regular job or stay in school?
No wonder telling your folks you've decided to quit cube life (or college) and pursue your entrepreneurial ambitions can be daunting. Just ask Justin Beegel, founder of data visualization company InfographicWorld, who told his story on the blog Under30CEO.
I was 23. I was single. I had no family to support. If there was ever a time to do something bold, this was it. Worst-case scenario, my business would fail. So I'd get another job or start something else. I was confident this was the time to make my move, to make my side business my main business, to become an entrepreneur. Convincing my parents of this was another matter, and even though I had the support of my closest friends, the knots in my stomach were severely impeding my appetite--not to mention my verbal communication skills--as I found myself at the weekend breakfast table of my dear parental units, trying to find the best way to broach the subject.
Although there were some bumps in the road and tough parental questions asked, everything worked out all right for Beegel and his parents. What can you do to ensure a similar positive outcome if you're about to walk the same road and broach your start-up dreams with your family for the first time? Beegel has a few suggestions:
Lay it all out--every gory detail. I've learned from my mistakes--and there have been plenty--and every time I've told my father exactly what went wrong with my business, he's helped me tweak things to make sure I don’t make the same mistake again.
Be 100% honest. Parents want nothing but the best for their children, and if you come to them earnestly looking for help, you'll likely find that they'll be more than willing to do so.
Don't get too full of yourself. "Show your parents that you have thought [your idea] through to the long term, not just what you hope happens in six months," says Kelsey Meyer, vice president of Digital Talent Agents. "Also, do not try to compare yourself to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram--those are the exceptions, not the rule, and parents know it."
See their perspective. "Until my third year of being self-employed, my parents--who are baby boomers--thought I was out of my mind," says Faiyaz Farouk, whose company, S2 Leadership Consultants, advises businesses on working with Gen-X and Gen-Y employees. The strategy that won them over? "Understand and respect where they are coming from," advises Farouk. "Use their values, and talk from their perspective, without losing your ground on your decision."
Explain your idea on their terms. "You have to instill confidence in them, not only that your idea is a good one, but also that you are capable of actually creating it, and convincing people to use it," says Tashfeen Ekram, whose start-up, SchedFull.com, helps physicians and other professionals fill canceled appointments. "Selling it to them on their own terms is key. I had to explain the usefulness of the product from my father’s standpoint. We are trying to reduce wait times for doctors, and when he realized it could save him time and allow him to see his doctor sooner, he was sold [on its usefulness]."
JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist. @EntryLevelRebel