How supportive is your family of your entrepreneurship?

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Family support is essential to every successful entrepreneur, or at least sure makes it easier.

I’m blessed that my wife likes and supports what I do, although from time to time she tells me that one of my ideas is stupid. I usually go forward with that idea anyway, and she usually is right about the idea having been stupid. We had a recent argument about something unrelated to business, and at the end she exclaimed, “By the way, your idea about a website devoted to [subject matter of new website] is stupid. It won’t work.” I will go forward with the idea anyway, but you can see how this kind of occasional conflict is different than what spouses who are gainfully employed tend to have. Plus, given her track record, my confidence is shaken on this idea, and that is a bit depressing.

And, at times, when money gets tight because I’m investing in new ideas while waiting for other ideas to pan out, there can be tension. But it is appropriate, as my first responsibility is to providing for the family.

Parents, siblings, spouses — all of them have something to say when we start up a venture. Sometimes they can be supportive, and sometimes they can be negative. Sometimes they can really bring you down — despite having no knowledge about your market or chances of success.

There is a metaphor about the worst case: There is a type of crab that fishermen can stack on top of each other, without rope, and even right near the water’s edge. That’s because if one crab tries to leave the pile, the other crabs pull it back in. So no crab in the pile can ever reach freedom. So if you have a family not accustomed to entrepreneurship, sometimes they might act like these crabs and try to pull you back in to their world.

It takes courage and conviction to know when to move forward and when to cave.

Is your family supportive? How do you handle cases when they are not?

Andrew NeitlichAndrew Neitlich
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