This week, I’m continuing my 12 Steps to Transitioning From Employee to Entrepreneur series. Our steps so far:
(Did you do your homework?)
Step 3 is all about letting your family members and close friends in on your exciting plans.
Now that you have narrowed down your business industry, it’s time to put the wheels up and “come out” to your family members and perhaps a few loyal and supportive friends. This is a big one … bigger for some than for others. We all have different levels of personal support in our lives. You will need to be very intentional about confiding your business plans.
You may wonder why you have to give them a heads up in the first place. After all, it’s your business. You didn’t consult them before you took your job, right? So why is a business any different?
Entrepreneurship is different.
Entrepreneurship is different. Your family members, especially the ones you live and spend the most time with, will have a profound impact on your entrepreneurial success. And your business will have a significant impact on their lives. To avoid trouble in paradise, the entire household must sing from the same hymnal.
Whether you like it or not, you must share your plans with the people you live with. Everyone else is optional. Err on the side of not sharing with people outside your household in the beginning. Let them in on the news only after determining that they are fully and firmly committed to supporting you.
If they are not, don’t tell them anything.
While it’s important to tell your family about your plans, how you do so is equally important. Here is a basic plan to follow and tweak for your particular circumstances.
1. Tell them how important your business is to you.
This is big. The people who love and support you need to know that your business is not optional. They need to understand what you are sacrificing in order to build your dream.
A few months from now, when you have to take an important business call in the middle of dinner, their knowledge of how critical your business is to you will help them to put that in context. They are more likely to understand your absence if they know you are doing it for a purpose you consider to be extremely important — maybe even non-negotiable.
Do not expect even your closest family member to be able to read your mind. Tell them with your own mouth how important your business is. If you don’t, you cannot complain later that they don’t understand.
2. Tell them what success means to you.
Give your family some idea of what success in business looks like to you. Does it mean a certain number of sales each week? Does it mean making enough money each year to allow you to retire early and go full-time in your business? Does it mean your business can fund the family’s annual trip to the beach?
Success is different to everyone. Letting your family know what your definition is will empower them to support you. When someone knows what you are trying to achieve, they are far better positioned to help you achieve it.
3. Tell them how they can help you.
Your most ardent supporters will not only want to know what success means to you, but they will also want to help you achieve success. Make it easy for them by telling them how they can help. A weekly run to the post office? Office filing? Helping with local deliveries? Packing orders during certain hours? Ordering office supplies? Making a few phone calls now and then? Buying a new printer as your birthday gift?
Tell people what you need, and make it easy fr them to be helpful. They will be glad they don’t have to guess and you can get some free assistance.
4. Keep your family continuously posted on your progress.
Host a periodic meeting (no more than monthly) to let your family members know how things are going. Are you meeting your financial goals? Do you need more help than you originally thought you’d need? Have you discovered that you have to change course? Is month tighter than you thought it would be?
Your family members will appreciate being in the loop. The trajectory of your business will affect everything from your mood to your bank account. Don’t keep important milestones to yourself. It’s only fair that your family members know what is happening so they are better positioned to support and encourage you. Letting them know how things are going at regular intervals also helps them to help you through the tough times you will face as an entrepreneur. For example, they are more likely to tolerate your crabby mood if they know it’s tied to a business challenge, and not to the disagreement you had last week.
Step 3: Homework: Have these Important Conversations
Review the above points, and add any that you think are important to you and your family.
Identify the people you will share with who are outside of your family. Again, err the side of saying nothing at first. You can always share later, but you cannot un-share with people who turn out to be less supportive than you thought they would be.
Make a list of the things you want to share with your family, and then schedule a time to meet with them to announce your news. This meeting does not have to be long. As a guide, set the first on for thirty minutes and see if you need more time than that going forward.
Answer all questions, and be sure to let them know how they can help. You may even consider asking for their assistance with a few small tasks at the very beginning. This will give you a good immediate idea of the support you can expect to receive over the long term.
Schedule and host this meeting, and schedule a few into the future. Highlight them on the family calendar so everyone knows they are expected to attend.
Announcing your intentions to your family members is the best way to avoid misunderstandings about where you stand in reference to your family and your business.
Follow this space for the next 9 weeks to continue the journey!
Next Installment: Step 4: Pave the Way for a Clean Departure From Your Job
I’ll be back with step 4 on February 22, as we continue your quest to transition from employee to entrepreneur. Meanwhile, post your comments, questions and feedback below. I promise to come back and answer you!