I recently started my own company. Why? Because I’ve always wanted to. Because I love the idea of being my own boss. Because I graduated a year early and I was burnt out by the age of 22. The list is endless.
I knew it would be a risk. I knew it would take countless hours to make it and become successful. What I didn’t know was that I would get a myriad of responses from all the loved ones in my life when I uttered the words, “I’m starting my own company.” These are some of those candid remarks.
1. Mom: My mom was probably the easiest person to tell, but this could be a perfect example of whatever the hell Oedipus was talking about. If she doesn’t genuinely support your every move, or at least give you the benefit of an Oscar-worthy bluff, she’s probably already given up on you. “That sounds terrific! You’ve always been so good at [so and so]!” She’ll quickly follow this with hugs, kisses, kind words, and your favorite dinner–this will be a total, and probably a bit delusional, slam dunk. One down, and you already feel like you’ve found the cure for cancer.
2. Dad: If you have a remotely normal father, you’re probably already well aware that he is growing weary of you bringing your collegiate lifestyle (still sans rent money) back home. He’s probably had the same real job for the last 30 years, so the idea that you’re changing career paths less than 12 months after you graduated from college is probably a more foreign concept to him than how to properly execute a poke on Facebook. Then comes the third degree: who, what, where, when, why, how? Throw in some skeptical chin-rubbing and a couple beers (read: seven beers and a few Jack and Cokes) and before you know it, you’ll have already swayed him into the lucrative concept of becoming your first investor. Better have your mission statement and NDA in hand and ready for signing before he wakes up tomorrow.
3. Significant Other: Assuming the term “significant” means something in your vocabulary, this particular member of the loved one community could very well prove to be the most difficult to sway. Why? Because the first thought that probably crosses his or her mind is, “How will you make money?” Let’s be honest, if you’re at this stage in the relationship, you’ve probably talked about marriage at some point or another. Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably at least thought about it. Your hopes and dreams are cute and all, but you don’t want to even imagine what will happen if Facebook doesn’t buy out your company.
4. Best Friend: He or she is your best friend for a reason. Along the same line as your mom, he or she is probably going to support you no matter what. It’s not his or her money or area of expertise, so your friend will be sure to bombard you with a plethora of advice on how to be as big as Twitter–you’ve literally never heard so many sentences continuously strung together that offer no concrete information whatsoever. If you’re lucky, he or she might just offer you some seed money between beers. Your best friend’s response will probably fall somewhere near “That’s awesome, this will be so cool!” on the reactionary spectrum. Obviously, the next drink should be on him or her as you further discuss your business plans.
5. Grandfather: There’s probably a very real chance that your grandfather was a part of a war. As a member of the Greatest Generation, he assuredly went through some hard times only to claw himself out of them. Anybody above the age of 40 is pretty set in his or her ways, so you can only imagine his skepticism to this new age approach of starting from scratch. He’ll most likely recount a gruesome war story that’ll include some thinly veiled allusion to the opening scene from “Saving Private Ryan,” or he’ll mention the time he lost his factory job at the ripe age of 11 for reference. He may even pull out his Nazi-killing dagger for effect. Just let him get it all out of his system, because chances are you’ll either be successful or flat broke by the next time you see him.
6. Random Drunk Person At The Bar From High School: This guy or gal is always the best person to tell–this person will feed you unsolicited advice that he or she picked up from an introductory marketing course between sips. I won’t even attempt to give an example of what this person might say, because you already know he or she’s going to churn out a slurred and garbled assortment of Twitter plugs and quotes from “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The drunk person at the bar will also make sure to tell you every single idea he or she has ever had for you in great detail. Toss your mission statement and marketing strategy out of the window, because the guy who just downed his third shot of Rumple Minze is going to tell you exactly how Warren Buffett succeeds in life. If this person, after six years at the local community college, isn’t of the utmost caliber when it comes to strategic business minds, I don’t know who is. Full disclosure: he or she will probably ask half a dozen times throughout the conversation if you’re hiring because this person is just “fed up” with his or her manager over at Hollister.
Let’s be honest. In the end, you’re just going to do what you want anyway. No amount of skepticism (both rational and not) will disillusion you. That’s what the first red number is for.