It's more common than you may believe: spouses, friends, and relatives can be brutal when it comes to supporting entrepreneurs in their dreams. Since your passion is core to who you are, it's hurtful when someone you love isn't fully supportive of your entrepreneurial endeavors. Keep the faith, it's not impossible to meet in the middle--or to win them over entirely.
Here's what may be going on, and how you can make it better.
1. They don't understand the entrepreneurial mindset.
Let's face it, entrepreneurs are a breed unto themselves. You are willing to take emotional and financial risks to attain the dream. You strive for freedom but often work sixty-plus hour weeks. The passion runs so deep that others can't possibly know how it feels.
People who don't relate may not be able to support you in the way you want and need. Oftentimes, loved ones will say they support you, but their actions don't match their words. This is particularly true if your attention is lopsided, in favor of your business. Sometimes things get so bad at home that the entrepreneur hides behind the business to avoid facing the issues. Or, the business owner is not efficient at work and attempts to do everything themselves, so time becomes their enemy.
Solution: Create as much balance as possible.
Learn to work on your business instead of in your business and create processes to expedite and organize things so you can spend more time with your loved ones. Don't do everything on your own. Also, spend time with other entrepreneurs. Sharing stories, brainstorming, and lending your expertise will give you a dose of the mental and emotional stimulation you crave. The assistance of a great coach is strongly advised since it's sometimes difficult to see the whole picture when you're standing smack in the middle of it.
2. They feel robbed of your attention.
The important people in your life may feel jealous of the time you spend on your business, or at the very least deprived of your attention. It's tough to admit to this, so they may cite something else as the problem, become argumentative, or go into avoidance mode. This creates confusion because you can't possibly find a solution to a problem that you haven't properly identified.
Solution: Avoid making promises you may not be able to keep.
Your loved one's feelings will only deepen with disappointment. Avoid making promises, especially when it involves something that is not completely in your control. Don't promise abundant profits within a year or a limited commitment of your time in your business. Have you told your significant other that the business won't disrupt your household or relationship? You know that's not true.
If you find yourself begging forgiveness for broken promises, then something has to change. Be honest, realistic, and forthright rather than avoiding the truth in fear of backlash or disappointing them. It's only fair that they know what they're dealing with.
3. They are more risk averse than you are.
When entrepreneurs sink time and money into a business it changes the financial landscape of the household. Savings decrease, debt increases, and lifestyle luxuries go by the wayside. Your partner may be focused on dollars in the bank today, while you're focused on a larger fortune down the road. Spouses sometimes feel resentful, especially if they cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your dream may require them to work harder to make ends meet, placing the burden of financial survival on their shoulders while you "squander away the money."
Solution: Have a solid financial plan and share it with them.
Many entrepreneurs begin their business as the sole owner and employee. As things grow and problems arise (because they will), it's difficult to slow down enough to create a plan. A business without a plan is like a ship without a rudder. I'm not a fan of full-blown business plans unless an investor is involved, but a financial and growth strategy is a must. A financial plan will help those who love you feel more secure about your investment.
4. They are afraid for you.
No one who loves you wants to see you hurt. While they may not understand your vision and commitment, they do understand how much it means to you. You feel like you've got this, but they cannot be inside your head, so they don't feel as confident. This doesn't necessarily mean they don't believe in you, they just don't see the big picture as you do.
Solution: Be conscious of how you communicate.
Sometimes it feels good to vent; to express your fears and unburden yourself when things aren't going well. So, you dump on your loved one and leave them feeling your pain. Of course, they will worry for and about you. It's good to vent but make sure it's balanced by expressing a positive outlook or something that will help to resolve their concern. Many entrepreneurs have come to me after years of using their spouse as a sounding board, only to realize it's ineffective and stressful. Again, a coach or someone else who can fill this role to some degree is a good way to go. Not to exclude others, but to balance the load.
One more important note: Never make assumptions about the meaning behind your loved one's seemingly negative actions. Reading messages into another's behavior is a fine way to create unnecessary trouble for the relationship. The key to success and feeling supported is to communicate clearly and remember that support is a two-way street.