Someone close to you quits his job and plunges head first into the uncertain waters of entrepreneurship. If this person is your husband or wife, you are hoping for success! It’s easy to say the wrong thing to the entrepreneur, especially if you’re one of those pessimistic wives (like me) that would never take such a big risk on her own. Sometimes I admire, sometimes I admonish, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got to stop saying these things to my self-employed husband, James:
1. Why Don’t You Get a Real Job? This implies that the work the entrepreneur does is not actually “work,” and should be considered a hobby or side pursuit unless it’s actually bringing home a steady paycheck. Somehow the common belief is that if you’re working for a company, a paycheck means you are being valued. In reality, a real job should be one where you don’t get to ride on the success of the company. We’ve all worked in situations where each day is just another lesson in corporate doublespeak, silly bureaucracy and lame office politics. Certainly a self-employed person aims to create a world more sincere than that.
2. I’m Worried About Your Future. By nature, entrepreneurs rarely predict their own failure. The qualities of a person who goes into business for himself are often optimism, ambition and determination. Those who plan and plan and concern themselves with the details are usually not the people who actually get up the nerve to do something! As the wife of an entrepreneur, I find myself worrying about what will happen in the future. Will we be able to afford all the things we need? Will we have to move to save money? Will his business travel opportunities evaporate when our toddler is finally civil enough to take on a plane? When it comes down to it, we should trust our entrepreneurs to make good decisions.
3. You’re Sure Doing A Lot of Work for Nothing. In the process of building a business, an entrepreneur will spend a lot of time on non-income producing activities. To an outsider, it can seem like a waste when time could be more efficiently used on a project that directly affects the bottom line. One of the hardest things to understand is that a lot of work entrepreneurs do sets the stage for the future, whether you’re talking about simple income or life legacy. As Art of Non-Conformity’s Chris Guillebeau suggests in his manifesto, The Tower, entrepreneurs should passionately and deliberately build the legacy that calls to them.
4. Sooner or Later, Everyone Gives Up. While it may be true that most entrepreneurs don’t relish in a lifetime of success stories, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth at least one shot. A person can learn more about himself in one year as an entrepreneur than five years at a company. Yes, things may not go as planned. You may sacrifice everything to follow a dream, and you may wake up one day right back where you started. The entrepreneur may seem the same to everyone else, but he’s changed. The Dennings, the family behind Discover Share Inspire, took a chance on real estate investing and eventually moved to Costa Rica with various sources of income. Later, when they were forced to move back to the U.S. after a series of events, they faced the “I Told You So’s.” An alternative life path was in their blood, however, and they are now traveling from Alaska to Argentina by van with their 5 kids! It just shows you that a true entrepreneur recovers quickly and tries again.
When James quit his secure, well-paying job last year, only a few people voiced their concern. On his going away present from work, someone actually wrote, “We’ll see you when you get back!” Entrepreneurship might seem like a foreign land, far away from the cozy corporate world. If you can keep from saying the wrong things, it’s definitely worth exploring.
Photo by Daquella manera