When you go into business for yourself, it’s normal to encounter people who don’t like or appreciate what you’re doing. These people you might just call ‘haters.’ There’s another group of ‘haters,’ however, that is a bit more of a challenge to deal with.
We call them the ‘Caring Haters’ and this article is all about dealing with them on your entrepreneurial journey. I have personally had to be vigilant to not fall into their trap of staying small and not taking risks in order to succeed in my business.
Who are the “Caring Haters”?
Put simply, these are those people around you who are always advising you to give up on the entrepreneurial life and go for something with more stability and financial security. They are typically those who love you the very most --- family and friends.
Does that surprise you; to hear ‘haters’ and ‘family’ in the same breath? We don’t think it should. It’s natural for family members to worry about you, and the life of an entrepreneur is quite the license for worry. Think about it:
You’re working non-stop
You always look or seem tired/drained
You may be struggling to pay rent or a mortgage
You hardly ever (if ever) take vacations or time off
You’re even busy during the holidays
Pressure may be making you lose/gain weight
There are myriad factors about the entrepreneur’s life that appear deeply troubling to those on the outside who both love and care about you. We call them the ‘caring’ haters because their appeals to get you back into some regular salaried job for security come from a good place in their hearts.
I am also writing today’s blog, however, to remind you why you should not heed their words. They may tug at your heart strings and run deep with emotion, but they are most likely giving you bad, or even harmful advice.
Broadly speaking, the caring haters fall into one of two categories:
1. The pessimists
2. The optimists
First, we’ll deal with the group that are probably the most challenging --- the pessimists. These are your friends and family members who frequently, and with increasing fervor and angst, express their concerns as to your choice of career or lifestyle.
They will advise you most stringently that, “for your own good,” you should give up on this hardship you’re putting yourself through to pursue something of greater stability.
They’ll put forward ideas about places you might work, and may even offer to put your name forward for positions in the places they work themselves. They’ll appeal to every emotional sense that you have within you, and implore you to stop this risky and potentially destructive path.
One of the most powerful voices among the pessimists can be your own parents. The key with pessimists is to always remember that their advice and strong opposition nearly always comes from a place of love. Your parents may have experienced great hardship in their youth, and are only trying to spare you the same discomfort that they felt.
Answer: Security does not bring growth
The main problem the pessimists have is that they fail to see the journey that you are undertaking as an entrepreneur. Taking a salaried job with the various benefits that come along with it is a very comfortable route in many ways. But the price you often pay for that stability is just that --- stability. The negative side of stability is that it can also translate into a lack of growth and development.
Hardship and suffering are character-building experiences. They toughen you up; help you learn and grow; help you to think about things in a new way. Your family members may have given up on such hardship in exchange for greater security, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In previous generations, stability was the most sought-after commodity of many people.
If you can shield yourself from this kind of pessimism, you might find better advice from the people who are living the kind of life you are chasing --- from other entrepreneurs or business mentors. They know all too well the path you are on, and they understand that the hard times you go through are part and parcel of the journey.
The second group may feel easier to deal with because their words don’t play on your sympathies and guilt complex. The challenge comes rather from the apparent kindness and supportive nature of their words.
The optimists prefer to use a kind of relentless positivity to advise you in your times of difficulty.
Once again, they are also family and friends, but those who rather than bluntly tell you to give up and get a secure desk job, tell you instead that “you’re the greatest,” and “you can do anything you put your mind to.”
This kind of advice creates a damaging and inhibiting echo chamber from which it’s hard to escape. Sometimes you do need tough love, and you’ll find it from driven and successful business mentors, not from family. The life of an entrepreneur is one of sacrifice and suffering, and you need to remember that. You don’t need coddling; you need reminding of the importance of that struggle. It’s that mountain you’re climbing that is teaching you every lesson.
Answer: Focus and Constructive Support
When you need advice on your working life, it has to be constructive. The more constructive, frank and honest, the better. Good advice doesn’t have to be mean, nor does it have to be overly sweet or kind, it just has to be sound. Always remember that when pursuing the entrepreneurial dream, the best people to advise you are those who have been through it themselves. More often than not, none of them will include the caring haters around you. Keep your eyes and ears open.