When Family and Friends Don’t Understand Your Business

A couple of weeks ago my Mom asked me when I was going to ‘get a real job’.  After I scraped my jaw up off the floor, I reminded her through tightly clenched teeth that “I already have a REAL job…and haven’t I explained that fifty-eleven times already”?  Yesterday another well-meaning relative handed me a ‘want-ad’ from a company looking to hire a full time web designer.  Hmmmmm….I am not a web designer, nor am I looking for another full time job.

Why do our parents, gal pals, spouses, siblings and kids seem to have the hardest time understanding what we do?   And what can we do about it?   Buckle up!  It’s time for:

The Brainy Gals’ Guide to Getting Friends and Family on Board with your Biz:

  •  Cut them some slack.  Let’s face it – being a Virtual Assistant is probably not something they’ve ever heard of or dreamed of you becoming.  They might be worried that you no longer have a steady pay check, benefits or job security.  They might even think you’re a little bit crazy.  Guess what?  They’re right!  By starting your own business you are among a rare breed.  Forgive them for worrying and take some time to show them your business plans, talk about your goals and explain to them your ‘back-up plan’ to ensure you won’t ‘go hungry’ while you’re building your business.
  • Recognize when it’s really the Green-Eyed Monster. Often when friends or relatives are ‘hating on your business’ it’s really because they are envious.  Most of the world is far too afraid to quit their 60-hour a week cushy corporate jobs. You are a brave, unique, trail-blazer who is suddenly living the life that everyone else wishes for.   Be proud to be a rebel!  Try very hard not to be snobby or defensive about it and most importantly, don’t be discouraged.
  • Let them help.  Ask for their opinions on your branding, allow them to brainstorm ideas with you.  Perhaps the kids could lick stamps or sharpen your pencils?  It can be difficult (especially for older generations) to understand what WordPress or Social Media or Google Analytics are or how you can make money using them?  It’s not your job to teach peeps about technology…but the more your family feels ‘involved’ in your biz, the more they will eventually understand.   Sometimes they are simply afraid of losing you. Openly share your successes and failures and soon they will be your biggest cheerleaders.
  • Celebrate with them!  Nothing will appease your family more than knowing you are having success in your business.  Invite them to dinner to celebrate signing a new client or taking a big step with your business. Seeing your small successes will ease help to ease their fears – and get them as excited about your biz as you are.
So grit your teeth and smile and carry on this rocky road of Virtual Assistance.  Keep in mind the infamous words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
Got a great or really fun one-liner from a friend or relative who didn’t ‘get’ your business?  Share it in the comments!





About the Author

Hi - I'm Lisa McDonell, a Virtual Assistant who shows other women how to launch and grow their own online business, make money from home and have a fun and supportive Virtual Assistant Lifestyle.

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