One of the realities of life as an entrepreneur is that you are a ‘trailblazer’. Whether you feel like it or not, look around at your friends and family. How many of them run their own businesses? How many work for themselves? How many came up with an idea and turned it into a reality? For most of us, when we started out, we knew very few other women who had started their own businesses. And while this will change as your career progresses, at the start it can be really daunting.
Christmas is a time of year when you catch up with loved ones, and discuss the developments of the year, and your plans for the coming months. And so if you’re just starting out in business, it’s likely the topic will have at least come up once or twice over the past few weeks!
I have owned my own businesses for over 6 years now, and been running The Dating Awards since 2014, however if I’m honest, it’s clear that most of my extended family still don’t really ‘get it’. Whenever I return to Reading I’m bombarded with questions about what I plan to do for a job, what I do these days, and whether I can make a living off what I do. And do you know what, even after 4 years building my business, knowing that I’ve paid myself a good salary every year, and that I’ve managed to pay my bills (and more) all by myself, I still find myself knocked for six by their comments. It can be really tough feeling like you have to justify your life choices to people who simply don’t understand. But it’s important not to let their lack of understanding get you down.
You need to be strong in your decisions, and remember that everyone makes their own life decisions. You have made these life choices for yourself, and just because others don’t understand them, doesn’t mean they are wrong. You only have to look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs and founders in the world to see how they stepped away from expected careers – Richard Branson was expelled from school, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs both dropped out of university. Founding a company isn’t an orthodox career path – even in 2018 – but that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path. It’s your path, and you should stick to it! Don’t let other peoples’ lack of understanding get you down. Though I know, particularly at the start, when it feels like you’re taking a bit risk, that you can panic and feel like you’ve made the wrong decisions.
While we can’t choose our families, we can choose our friends. Where possible, surround yourself by supportive people. They don’t have to share your career choices, they just have to respect them. Talk to those who are interested about what you do. Include them in the journey. But don’t be put off by thoughtless or naive comments. They often say more about the person making the comments than they do about you and your own life choices.
And if you need some extra support – come and join us in The League! We have a special private Facebook Group full of like-minded entrepreneurs and female founders, all keen to support one another, and all facing the same challenges. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved! Next time someone asks you something about your new business which upsets you, smile back, and then vent your rage about it on our Facebook Group! I’m sure one of us has experienced a similar thing at some point!!!