You just launched your dream business.
You’re full of passion and excited to get things moving, chase down your vision, and build a job that makes you want to boot scootin’ boogie out of bed each morning.
The only thing that can harsh your vibe? A family interrogation about how owning your own business jives with putting food on the table.
Even with the 23+ million small businesses in the United States, entrepreneurship can still feel like a novelty, and as such, it can draw plenty of unwanted attention and scrutiny around the dinner table.
The holidays were made for crafting inside jokes and overdosing on tryptophan, not defending your business’s viability — so we pulled together a few tips for surviving your first Thanksgiving as a small business owner. Dig in!
1. Showcase Your Passion
It takes passion to get other people fired up about your vision for your business — don’t be afraid to let that passion shine through, and your family will be hard-pressed to see anything beyond it.
2. Talk About the Hurdles You’ve Surpassed
It’s easy to focus on what’s in front of you and all the hills you still have to climb. Try to steer the conversation in a different direction by highlighting how far you’ve come and all the hurdles you’ve already cleared.
3. Remind Them Small Businesses Drive Our Economy
You’re no stranger to the unique difficulties of running a small business, but someone has to do it, right? Remind family members that small businesses account for 55% of all U.S. jobs and 66% of new job growth in the last forty years.
4. Make It a Dialogue
When it’s one side hurtling question after question at the other, a friendly conversation can quickly start to feel more like an interrogation. Make a point to ask about their work situation, too, and you’ll create a more comfortable dialogue.
5. Ask For Support
There’s probably at least one person in your family who gets it — be it a sister you vent to or your entrepreneur dad. Talk to them ahead of time about providing support when the dinner conversation turns to you. A comrade in the desert can make all the difference.
What Other Entrepreneurs Had to Say
ANGIE NELSON, THE WORK AT HOME WIFE:
“Getting others to understand our work gets even harder when we use terms they aren't familiar with. Telling grandma you are a virtual assistant will likely get you a blank stare or awkward questions. Develop a short elevator pitch that explains your work in the simplest, most common terms. Instead of telling people you are a virtual assistant, tell them that you do administrative and clerical work for small businesses that don't need a full-time employee.”
CALEB WETHERELL, LEMONLY:
The most effective way to get your family on board is to help them understand your passion. I make sure my family knows why I love what I am doing, from there it is easy for them to empathize with any struggles I may have and to support me.
MICHAEL NOKER, ANTHRAPOLOGIST:
“I usually give them a very short explanation of the things I do that lead directly to my ability to pay my bills. So I'll go with, 'I write and sell t-shirts on the internet.' For a lot of my family, that's a sufficient explanation, and I don't need them to get it past that point. For others, it turns into, 'So how much money are you making?' and that's about the time that I try my best to change the subject (and give them an opening to ask all the other invasive questions like why I'm still single).”
Let Them Eat Turkey
Any dinner with the family can be wonderful and stressful all at once — especially when you’ve just taken a huge career leap. Keep these turkey tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to a gluttonous Thanksgiving meal that’s just as it should be: peaceful.
Do you have more tips for navigating new entrepreneurship with your family? Share them in the comments below!