There aren’t a lot of people who object to the idea of being an entrepreneur. The idea of running a company, making a cool million or two and moving to your own personal island (which is how a lot of us would like entrepreneurship to work) is hard to object to on any level. Of course, that’s the ideal. As entrepreneurs, we do put in the hours and work hard — I’ve yet to be offered my own personal island.
But even when the description of the work involved is more accurate, very few people object to the idea that they should, personally, be entrepreneurs. Rather, the problems creep in when other people object to an individual wanting to start her own company.
Obligations and Objections
It’s a rare entrepreneur who has no obligations whatsoever. Unless you really do have everything you need in your backpack, no family at all and nothing else that could be considered much more than a suggestion that you do something, you’ve got obligations you’ve got to consider when you’re considering striking out on your own. And with those obligations come objections.
Family can be a source of support; your loving relatives can also be unconvinced of the ability of your company to make money long after you’ve become profitable. That’s because family comes with its own obligations. If you have a spouse or kids, you have a responsibility to make sure they’re taken care of, whether or not you’re the breadwinner. If you have parents, you may need to make sure they’re taken care — in reverse, they may also be concerned about taking care of you.
In my own family, which is mostly made up of entrepreneurs, there’s pretty much a universal consensus against anyone starting a new business whenever it’s announced. When I told my family that I was going to work for myself, there were more than a few suggestions that I should go get a job — that while everyone loved me, no one wanted the obligation of supporting me when that whole crazy business thing didn’t work out. That objection was certainly something that I managed to work past, but it was still there.
There are some objections that will always stand in your way. If you have a child with a medical condition that will disqualify her for health insurance if she ever loses coverage, you’re facing an objection to striking out on your own that cannot just be fixed with a little talking. There are awful situations out there that, on first — and even second or third glance — make it impossible to move forward with building your own company.
No magic wand is going to solve such situations. If you’re committed to navigating those objections, there may be a light on the other side, but there’s no easy fix.
On the other hand, a lot of the objections other people may have for your plans of entrepreneurship are far more manageable. There’s an art to handling objections that are grounded more in emotional questions, like the concern of an employer loosing her best worker or a spouse who isn’t sure that all the bills are going to get paid if you start up a business. The first step is acknowledging that these are real objections — they aren’t inconsequential or irrelevant to your choices.
The second part of moving past these challenges is to ask what the other person needs to move past them. You’re not going to be able to push past these sorts of concerns. Brute force may work for some business problems, but it really isn’t applicable here. The universal solution is that you have to get the objector to find his or her own path past the problem. It’s a very specialized form of compromise. You may not be able to quit your job and launch into your big idea tomorrow, if what your spouse needs you to do is save up enough money to cover the bills for a few months first. But you will get your shot, and in such a way that everyone is backing you up.
Imagining Objections that Aren’t There
For some of us, I’d argue that we’re looking for problems that don’t always exist. Of course, many objections are real and legitimate. But it’s easy to assume an objection that doesn’t actually exist.
For one example, I’d say that my utility company has a very strong objection to not getting paid every month. I could have told myself that was an objection to me starting my own business — that if I couldn’t be sure that the utility company would be paid in full every month, it wasn’t worth starting a business. But while anyone who I pay a monthly bill to has an objection to my not paying, they don’t really care where I’m getting my money.
These are objections that don’t need to be negotiated, managed or otherwise dealt with. All you have to do is go out and make sure your business is making enough money to cover your expenses.
Alright, things aren’t always quite as easy as all that, but we are talking about situations that can be managed. Entrepreneurs can always cut their own expenses and find other routes around those situations that make actually starting your own business a riskier proposition.
This article is reprinted with permission by The Young Entrepreneurs Council (Y.E.C.), which provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Y.E.C. promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.