What To Do When Your Friends And Family Don’t “Get It”

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You know what I’m talking about.

The eyes that kind of gloss over as their mind drifts to their grocery list as soon as you start talking about how many new opt-ins you got today, or how you just can’t seem to get Mailchimp to send to your list properly and should you hire a VA to do it or just do it yourself, and why on EARTH are your widgets not lining up properly??

Or the friend that used to know you back in the day when you liked to party a little too hard on Friday nights, but now look at you, home in your PJs by 8pm talking to your weird new online friends and brainstorming your next launch. What happened to the up-for-anything, fun friend they used to know?

Or the dad who insists that you get a real job and who thinks your business is nothing but  a phase, like that time you used to kiss girls in high school.

But little do your friends or your dad know that you’re in it to win it, and this is as much of a phase as loving Ryan Gosling is, which is to say that it ISN’T.

 

But you still feel self-conscious and weird about it, because your new life as an online, Uncaged business owner is so different from your old one, and it makes you nervous to even put your stuff out there when you don’t feel like anyone takes you seriously (or even cares).

 

So what are you to do? How can you possibly grow your business when no one gets it?

Here’s is exactly what you need to do:

1. Get new friends.

Create a new family. Surround yourself with people who not only support you, but are EXCITED for you and IN IT WITH YOU.

Not to say that you have to ditch all your old friends (though it’s not a bad idea once in a while to do a bit of an inventory and make sure that the people in your life ARE actually there for a good reason).

But you will never make it alone in business. That much I can guarantee. Look around at any successful business owner and they will always tell you that it was the support of their peers and colleagues, their communities, their mastermind and coaching groups, that are responsible for their success.

No one gets anywhere lone-wolfing it. And no one comes out with the exact same support group as when they went in.

2. Actually tell the people in your life what you do all day, in language they can understand.

If your friends and family think you spend all day fucking around on Facebook and creating inspirational images in PicMonkey that are just SO cute but not actual real work, they need a reality check and it’s YOUR responsibility to give it to them if you ever want them to take you seriously.

So lay it all out for them in ways they can understand. I guarantee they will be mega impressed when they realize how many hats you actually have to wear to run that little hobby business of yours.

Here’s a script you can cut and paste and make your own, if you need help starting the conversation:

Hey _____. I know I’ve been working a lot lately on my business, and I know you think it’s all a little weird, so I wanted to take some time to explain it to you!

Ok, so you know how I am a ______? Well what that means is that I _________ for my clients.

But because this whole operation runs with JUST little ol’ me, it’s not like I can JUST be a ______.  Over the past few months (years?), I’ve had to learn how to do a billion other jobs. I’ve had to learn about branding and how to position myself as an expert in my field. I’ve had to learn about marketing and have done a lot of work to make sure that my business is solid so that it will sustain me in the longterm.

I’m starting to dig into web design and learning how to make design changes to my site so that I don’t always have to hire someone to do it. And now that I’m working with clients, I’m also learning how to evaluate whether my programs are effective, and make changes to make them even better. Oh, and then I actually have to make time to DO my client work.

And as if that wasn’t enough, I’ve also had to dig into accounting and taxes, to make sure that I’m legit at tax time and that I have all my ducks in a row. And I’ve also had to legally register my business and create contracts and privacy policies for everything I do so that my ass is covered legally.

It’s a LOT of work to make everything run smoothly, and I’m sure some of it is still super confusing to you. It’s confusing to me too! But I’m really committed to growing my business to a place where it sustains me and I can quit my job/take more time off to be with partner/stop living in your basement/afford to buy a house/etc, so I might be a little MIA for the next while (who knew that starting your own business means working more than I’ve ever worked before!).

I love what I’m doing, so if you ever have any questions about it I’m  happy to share more!

When in doubt, add concrete numbers.

Over 250 people who have signed up to my website!

I have 3 clients that are paying me $300/month!

I made $50k last year and hope to bump it to $80k this year!

Non-internet business people don’t obsess over numbers like you do, so they are bound to be impressed!

The point is to help them to understand that the work you are doing is legit and not just some dream that is never going anywhere.

When I talk to my partner Mike about my work, he’s super impressed. He says that if I worked at his job (for the provincial government), I’d be doing at least 5 people’s jobs. That always helps him put things in perspective and fully GET what a badass little business lady I am (note: Mike laughs anytime I call myself a lady).

3. Stop going to the hardware store for milk.

You’re not gonna find what you need there.

That isn’t to say that your friends/family  CAN’T support you (some of them may be super loving and supportive!), but they probably aren’t the best people to turn to all the time when it comes to your business.

 

Your friends/coworkers/parents are NOT your ideal clients. So if they don’t really get what you’re doing, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. They will never pay you for your services, and you shouldn’t be going to them for help and advice about a business they know nothing about.

 

Learn where your clients ARE and then make sure that THEY understand what you do –  that’s what really matters in your business.

It’s scary as hell to go against the grain and do things YOUR way, especially when it comes to your career.

People won’t understand. People will judge you. Usually it’s because they’re jealous and/or scared to actually go after what THEY want, so hating on you is the easier option.

And I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy. It’s terrifying.

But at the end of the day, it’s a choice: Do you want to let other people’s insecure thoughts and words hold you back? Or do you want to take your life into your hands and push forward anyway?

Make your choice.

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Read 18 Comments & Leave Yours

  1. stefaniharris

    This is soooo my life!  BUT, I’m happy to say that I HAVE found new friends online in MANY different groups…and I am more than happy to explain what I actually do on a daily basis to the non-believers and those who just don’t get it. For some – especially the old-school types (my parents, my boyfriend, life-long corporatey people…you have to explain it over and over again.  But eventually, it’s their problem if they CHOOSE not to get it…because I’ve done my part of explaining…and if they choose to have selective memory, oh well…their loss for not embracing what I do….b/c it’s pretty bad ass if I may say so myself! Thanks for writing this post – it’s so important to surround yourself with people who get it and can support you and most importantly – CHEER YOU ON!!

  2. awillsie

    Hehe, I went through the process of #2 before going to my 5 year college reunion.  It’s hard to figure out how to tell all your college friends (who are now doctors, lawyers, and bankers) that you’ve decided to build a little painting business for a living.  Great tips!

  3. This is the most amazing blog post i have ever read – its like you got inside my head and spilled it all out on the page! Blimey you hit the nail on the head! I have just launched my first blog and I am so scared and excited at the same time – but like you said, not everyone ‘gets it’  and that makes you feel like a bit of a fraud especially when it is (hopefully) going to become my business when i link to my Etsy store. Thank you so much for making me feel like it is not just me! I really hope to make some online friends along my journey into bogging so i can see this for myself and feel a part of something. Loved this post so much! Love Rachel

  4. EllenErcolini

    YES!!! 

    Stop going to the hardware store for milk.  So I have an older all-up-in-my-business relative that USED to feel supportive and now he’s getting all fussypants because I’m writing towards Biz Owners and not “everyone” anymore.  UGH.  I’ve explained it to him many times and he still sends me a kinda cranky response with every blog post I send out.  
    So, boundaries are healthy too.  Your words rang loud and clear this morning.  xx

  5. Marinda

    I’m so glad you brought up #3. 

    Designers (myself included) often get feedback from their clients along the lines of “my Mom doesn’t like it” and so the endless requests for changes begin in order to please Mom. (You can substitute Mom for any other person who’s approval the client is seeking.) Disregard the fact that none of the changes they want to make ever makes sense for the actual people who would be buying the client’s stuff. But just goes to show how relevant this is, and that we all go through this at some stage or another! 

    Support can come from any number of places; doesn’t have to be from that specific person you want it to come from. A big life lesson right there. Sometimes you just gotta wait for them to come around (and that happens when you’ve done it your way and they see how happy you are) and sometimes you just gotta let go.

  6. jenner807

    Thank you Becca. This is such an amazing post and reminds me to be even stronger in myself. Certain members of my family are still trying to understand what it is I do all day long and last week was VERY insightful for them. I got snowed into my mom and dads and ended up there for an extra two days. I was working from home the entire time and would sneak away in my old bedroom to do calls or check in on clients and my dad finally said: “Wow — you’re really connecting with people on this. It’s awesome!” And it is… just takes some time for eyes to be opened. Thanks again for this article! I loved it.

  7. Honestly, I could not possibly care less who does or does not “get” what I
    do.  Those people are not my target market/audience and likely never will
    be.  I refuse to waste my time attempting to “convert” people, especially
    when it comes to the business of pro wrestling, which as a whole, has its
    own credibility issues.  I don’t have to defend how I make my living to
    anyone, and don’t care who does or does not like what I do.  I’ll conquer
    the world just fine without you.
    While I see your advice, and recognise it for what it is, here is what
    stood out to me.
    1) Create a new family. Surround yourself with people who not only support
    you, but are EXCITED for you and IN IT WITH YOU.
    –I understand that the next thing you say is not to ditch other friends,
    etc., but I don’t want to be the person who is only surrounding myself with
    “yes-men” who think all I touch turns to gold.  Those negative people
    frequently point out things that a supporter wouldn’t think of, or if they
    do, they don’t point it out in fear of being negative.  I LIKE my haters.
      They tell me what I’m doing wrong, and also make me WANT it more.  You
    hate me?  Fine.  You’ve cheesed me off enough to WANT to succeed that much
    more!  I like that.  I know most people don’t think the way I do, but I
    THRIVE on the arseholes.  Tell me I suck!  Tell me you hate what I do!
      Spend every moment of your time obsessing about ME!  I’m in love with me,
    and I’m glad you are, too, to spend so much time hating me.  Spend that
    time hating me, and I’ll spend it with your voice in my head, remembering
    that with every success I have.
    I think this is the best thing in your whole entry:
    Your friends/coworkers/parents are NOT your ideal clients. So if they
    don´t really get what you´re doing, at the end of the day it doesn´t really
    matter. They will never pay you for your services, and you shouldn´t be
    going to them for help and advice about a business they know nothing about.
    (my edit, starting from your last word)-> , don’t care about, and probably
    won’t care about.

    Shadow Fire Promotions, Inc.
    “Your Chicago Source For Wrestling”
    Visit us on the web at http://www.sfpincchicago.com
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    AOL IM: sfpincchicago
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    P.O. Box 2746
    Chicago, IL 60690
    (847) 489-2087

  8. 1000% yes to this entire thing. I am learning to have rhino skin as Hillary Clinton puts it but I’m not totally there yet. The biggest thing for me is being able to eloquently convey exactly what I do in a strong and direct way. It feels like a big beast and there’s no obvious place to start when talking to people who aren’t in this online space…or even entrepreneurial/freedom/beyond the status quo space. I’ve found that less words are better. Heck, I remember a while back that Marie Forleo said her parents still don’t get what she does which made me realize that it’s probably better to assure the people around me that I’m doing great and I’m really happy. Beyond that there’s not much else to say unless they ask specifically! And even then I’m still keeping it short! Or directing them to my website :) Thanks, B! xo

  9. stefaniharris  yayyy for online friends!!!!

  10. awillsie  I bet they envy your life WAY more than you even realize :)

  11. ElistonButton  Aw, Thank you Rachel!!! It is DEFINITELY not just you. You will definitely make new friends who support you and understand what you really do all day on your computer :)

  12. EllenErcolini  I still get that too Ellen – people who write to me and are like “You know you shouldn’t just talk to business owners”, and I’m all like “Um, actually, it’s MY business and that’s who I work with soooo”.
    Great point that your ideal clients will change as you go and you need to be willing to change with them without worrying about cutting people out!

  13. Marinda  This is such a biggie with design. YOUR MOM IS NOT YOUR CLIENT!!!

  14. jenner807  Hurray for dad recognizing it! Thanks for reading!

  15. stephgordon  yes to rhino skin!!! I find it helpful to have a few different ways of explaining what I do, depending on who I am talking to. If it’s people NOT in the online world I tend to be brief and just say that I help small businesses. Sometimes I even go so vague as to say I do “business coaching”(bleh) just because it’s something people GET, then when they dig in with more questions i get more specific.
    Just smile and say you’re doing great and let them think what they want! xo

  16. vegan_sparkles

    I just read this whole article out to my love/biz partner in crime and we loved it!  Fabulous!  xx

  17. stefaniharris

    Rebecca Tracey :)  By the way – saw that you’re going to be on the team for GG2CB.  That is just toooo cool for words!!  I wanted to tag you in my comment to Amanda’s post, but it wouldn’t let me b/c you’re not in the group (yet?) and/or b/c we’re not friends (which is why you prob saw a friend request from me – which you totally don’t have to accept…b/c I’m sure you have to set some boundaries.  ha!  :)).  Looking forward to your expertise joining in on the GG2 fun!