“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone
Deciding to pursue a business idea is similar to deciding to have a child. Both require you to make sacrifices and will lead to sleepless nights, especially in the early years.
Your parents know how much work parenting involves; they raised you after all. In fact, they still see you as their baby as you will see your business as your baby even if:
- Your startup is already grown up,
- Other people are in charge of taking care of it, or
- It can already take care of itself.
This is way they hesitate to fully let you go it on your own.
And while starting a business should entirely be our own decision as an adult, having your parents back you up and support your goals and dreams will go a long way for you and your business.
So, here are five ways to convince your parents to support your startup idea.
#1 Understand, Be Understood
Understand them so they can understand you too.
Consider Their Views
Ever since you were young, your parents told you to study hard, stay in school and get good grades to graduate from a top university with the highest honors you can possibly attain.
Their goal for you was to get a reliable job with great pay and benefits as well as a high level of security so that you will be able to send your children to good schools too and provide them with a comfortable life. In this way, your children will eventually become highly paid employees themselves.
This goal worked for your parents. So, it must work for you and your children too.
“When I was growing up, my poor dad often said, ‘Go to school and get good grades so you can find a good job with good benefits.’ He was encouraging me to become an employee.”
Another example of your parents’ goals for you comes from one of the greatest artist’s life story. In the video and article Why your parents don’t want you to be you, Niall Doherty tells the story of Paolo Coelho, a famous and successful novelist, whose parents were unsupportive of his dreams of becoming a writer.
In fact, they were not just unsupportive, they sent him to a mental asylum because of his dream.
But Paolo Coelho understood his parents’ views and said, “I forgave my parents. In fact, I did not need to forgive them, because I never blamed them for what happened. From their own point of view, they were trying to help me to get the discipline necessary to accomplish my deeds as an adult, and to forget the ‘dreams of a teenager.’”
This was the norm. This is the system your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were accustomed to and they thought, even hoped, that this will be your path too. Going against this system makes you a rebel in your parents’ eyes.
So, it’s crucial to understand this before you break the news to them that you are leaving school or your job to pursue a business idea.
Show Them How the World Has Changed
In this modern world, having a “safe and secure” job is no longer that safe and secure. It comes with great risks too.
There no longer is a career ladder, instead there is a career jungle gym, according to venture capitalist, co-founder of LinkedIn, and board member of AirBnb, Reid Hoffman.
In his commencement address for the Babson College Class of 2012, he said:
“Due to the changes in a globalized and accelerating world, the notion of a career has changed. Whereas we used to have a career ladder, now we have a career jungle gym. Success in a career is no longer a simple ascension on a path of steps. You need to climb sideways and sometimes down; sometimes you need to swing and jump from one set of bars to the next. And, to extend the metaphor, sometimes you need to spring from the jungle gym and establish your own turf somewhere else on the playground.”
So, you have to explain to your parents that the times have changed and any choice will come with risks. And, would they not rather let you take a risk on something that will make you happy than on something that won’t.
#2 Clarify Your Why
“When the why is clear, the how is easy.” – Jim Rohn
Start with the why. Having a clear purpose and informing your parents about it will assure them that you are not just being rebellious or impulsive.
Simon Sinek, an author, speaker, and consultant, is famous for his TEDX Talk entitled Start with Why: Why Great Leaders Inspire Action for his concept of the Golden Circle. He said that “people don’t buy what you do, people buy why you do it.”
The same concept applies to your parents. They are your consumers and they won’t buy your idea to start a business if you start with your what and how. They need to hear why you want to do what you plan on doing.
#3 Prepare, Plan and Act
Always prepare for success, but prepare Plan B and even Plans C, D, E, and F too.
Sebastian Dillon, in his article Six Reasons Why Your Parents Hate Your Startup Idea, indicate that parents mainly don’t support startups because their children don’t have a great action plan, a unique and doable business and marketing plan, a Plan B to fall back on if all else fails, and a solid financial plan.
They just want the best for you and would not want to see you fail. And, they know that having concrete plans will save you from failure as much as possible. Keep this in mind to increase your chances of persuading your parents.
So, before approaching them with your business idea, you should already have done enough research on where to get funds and investors. For them to back up your startup, you should also be able to back up your decision with data and facts.
Besides the preparations and plans, the best indicator of your business’s future success for your parents is seeing that you have taken concrete steps to attain your dreams. Such steps include:
- Having a business plan and a viable product,
- Having attended seminars or workshops related to your undertaking, and
- Possibly having a list of the people who already expressed interest in your product.
Having done such actions would help you convince your parents to support your business idea.
Also, according to Martin Zwilling, a veteran startup mentor and contributor for Entrepreneur magazine, some practical steps to help build a successful startup include:
- Communicating with peers who have already started a business,
- Researching current success stories,
- Finding a business mentor,
- Learning more from industry seminars or classes,
- Volunteering at organizations related to your field of interest, and
- Starting up a smaller business.
Know That Your Passion Comes with Problems
Your passion to start a business comes with its own set of problems and you know that! Indicating this to your parents will guarantee them that you’re not being idealistic about the startup concept.
Having considered the possible problems for your planned venture and having foreseen solutions for the difficulties will ensure your folks that you know what you’re doing and you’re ready for whatever will come your way.
Let them know that you’re passionate about your plan and that this passion will make sure that you will continue loving your business, even though it will have its bad aspects.
You should also overflow with so much passion that it will break their hearts to see you lose it. One thing that is scarier for parents than letting their children fail is being the ones to fail their children.
#4 Just Ask for Support
Your parents are used to you asking them for things; you asked them for your milk bottle, increases in your allowance, and permission to go on dates.
So, asking them for support wouldn’t be so different, even though it may be daunting. Tell them how much it would mean to you if they could help you or support you with your startup dreams.
Amanda Palmer, an activist, author, and rock star (at least figuratively), mentions in her book The Art of Asking that the inability to ask for help paralyzes a lot of people’s lives and relationships.
Sarah Kathleen Peck, in her article on Medium.com, says that “if you don’t ask, the answer is already no”. Also, “in order to get what you want, you have to ask for it.” Even though this may be common sense, we sometimes forget it.
Peck also notes that you have to be ridiculously clear, direct and honest about what you want.
Do you only need moral support or do you also want financial support?
Will you need them to give constructive criticism when they see that you might be messing up or do you want them to stay out of it?
#5 Express Your Gratitude
Lastly, thank them for raising you to be the out-of-the-box thinker that you are today by involving them.
Also, show them that you are firm in your decision to push through with the business, but that you are still open to their suggestions and opinions in other aspects of your life.
Moreover, tell them that their efforts have not gone in vain and you’ll still apply what you learned at school to your business. The only difference is that you won’t apply it as an employee, but as a leader of your own business.
Do you have a business idea and want to persuade your parents to support you? Have you already started your startup with your parents’ support?
If yes, how did you convince them to support you? Give other aspiring entrepreneurs your tips below!
Featured image credit: Giphy