How To Overcome Negative Feedback From Family And Friends When Starting Your Business

By January 9, 2008 Mindset 4 Comments

You’ve decided that running your own business from home is definitely something that you want to do. If you’re fortunate, your family and friends will support you and be behind you every step of the way.

However, this scenario may happen to you: Full of excitement, you go out for coffee with friends and tell them about your new plans. You’re surprised when the reaction is less than enthusiastic.

At home you might get a similar reaction. Rather than being pleased and excited for you, your family may come up with all kinds of reasons why you shouldn’t go for it and become your own boss.

It’s important to understand the reasons behind their skepticism. Have you heard of spouses who feel threatened by their partner losing a lot of weight? Sometimes your loved ones just want you to stay as you are and not change.

When you talk about your business plans, they may think that you won’t have time for them any more, or feel that you should just stay in your ‘safe’ job. Whatever the reasons are, they often stem from personal fears.

So, how do you overcome a potential negative reaction from your family and friends? You’ll be having your own doubts about taking the plunge, and now your family and friends are being negative as well?!

I was skimming a book recently about How To Survive Christmas With Your Relatives (I can’t remember the exact title or author because it was at a party when we were all looking at each other’s gifts!).

Anyway, some of the tips were excellent, such as always responding to a negative comment with a positive one. For example, your inlaws might come over and make disparaging remarks about your furnishings or where you live. Instead of reacting negatively in return, or getting defensive, just reply with something positive about where you live, such as being close to a park! And never start a sentence with ‘You never…’, or ‘You always…”

You can easily apply these principles to negative reactions from family and friends when talking about your business. You need to stay strong. Deflect any negative comments with positive ones. Stay calm and refuse to rise to the bait if they try to provoke you.

Secondly, think about the benefits for your family of running your own business from home. OK, we can’t deny that setting up a business WILL require significant time investment, but at least you’ll have extra time at home instead of commuting into work. Reassure them that you’ll block out time for them every day, to allay their fears. If you explain your plans in terms of what’s in it for them, they will be much more receptive and supportive.

Explain to your friends that setting up your business is important for your happiness and wellbeing. If they are true friends, they will understand this and not resent it if you’re preoccupied with your business and not able to drop everything and go out for coffee or take personal calls whenever they want!

Running your own business is one of the most rewarding and challenging things you’ll ever do. Getting support from your family and friends as you start your business is an important step.

Do you have any tips or experiences to share on this?


  • Patty says:

    I really appreciate your newsletter and articles. I am a sahm/wahm of two young sons. I have found it difficult at times getting full support from my family. My husband supports me, but at the same time he, and other family members, feel my business should not be a full-time job since we have young sons at home. I agree with him, but at the same time I feel like I need to try and get my online ventures growing by self-promotion, which as you must know is very time consuming when you have no advertising budget.

    I don’t know any other way to do this without it taking a lot of my time online. I’d like to get your thoughts on working from home while raising young children and how you became involved as a virtual assistant. Please contact me about discussing this topic on my new mom support call in show at! Thanks!

  • Great advice Lisa. My personal experience has been mostly positive but it is very easy to be put off balance by other people’s negativity. As you say, it is them projecting their own fears about change and it is essential not to take it personally.
    I managed to tune into my husband’s WFM (what’s in it for me) station and he’s become a fantastic support (I no longer complain about having housework eating into my ‘me’ time and am a happy cook). Everytime I have had moments of doubt or weakness, I have talked to him and he has helped me to either come up with solutions or brush the fears aside. Everyone can find a fan like this – a friend, parent or sibling, someone who knows you and believes in you. Time will cure the rest of their fears and you of yours.
    Once you get going and start seeing results, their opinions won’t bother you. You’ll learn to use all the positive comments to bolster you up and let the negatives ones slide through to the keeper. While this can be hard to do in the beginning, it’s a skill we all need to learn. I think Lisa’s tip of responding to every negative comment with a positive one is a great way to achieve this – I shall add this to my mental toolbox for success today!
    Thanks Lisa and best of luck to you all.

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Thank you Lydia.

    I love your suggestion of finding a ‘fan’.

    And your comment about time curing fears is so true!

  • Caryn F Kelly says:

    Thanks, Lisa, for all of your valuable information and encouragement. You have been a godsend to me in my pursuit of my home business. I have been a legal secretary for over 26 years and make a really good salary. I work in a large regional law firm and have great benefits. Thankfully, my husband, the ever-optimist, is very supportive of my dream to start a home business. I am still working full-time, but I am transitioning slowly. He is helping me with advertising (handing out my cards to people he knows, hanging flyers, etc.). There is still that vision of his, though, that I’m going to be making the same kind of money at home that I am working as a legal secretary and I try to tell him that that may not be the case in the beginning. He is very positive, so I guess that helps. On to telling family and friends . . . I tried telling my elderly parents that I am tired of being a legal secretary and want to work my own business from home, and they were not supportive at all. They are worried about health insurance. They also commented, “well, soon enough you will be able to retire.” I try to tell them, I don’t want to retire! I want to do something I love!” That was a few months ago and I haven’t brought the subject up again. As far as they know, I’m not pursuing a home business and I’m going to stay in my secure job. I guess I will find the right time to tell them. Any thoughts?

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