When you set out to start a business, don’t be surprised if a small army of people line up to tell you why you should not—or cannot—do it. And, don’t be surprised if your strongest resistance comes from the people who care about you most.
Before I started my first business 30 years ago, I pitched my grand idea—which included quitting my well-paying day job—to a business mentor, proven entrepreneur, and personal hero who just happened to be my father: Harry Kappel.
His response was, “Michael, you’re crazy.”
Talk about having your feet knocked out from under you. I trusted my dad more than anyone. He was an honest, to-the-point man with a certifiable genius level IQ and a lot of business success. If he said I was crazy, I very well could be!
But, he didn’t stop there. “Son, you’re a man now! You’ve got a fiancée, a house, and a mortgage. You have responsibilities. You’re preparing to be the head of a household that’s in dire need of repair, and you think it’s a good idea to start your business now?”
Then came a barrage of questions I couldn’t answer: “What if this is a complete trainwreck? What if your funds dry up? What if the economy tanks or the government changes the rules on you?”
What if, what if, what if?
When it was all over, it felt like I’d just gone 10 rounds with the small business advisor version of Mike Tyson.
I lived my academic career by the old adage, “C’s Get Degrees.” While I’m not a certified genius, I had given due diligence to these fears and questions. But thinking about these things internally, in a pure and confident voice of indomitable positivity, is quite different than having a trusted third party expose issues in a less than sensitive manner. In the safety of my mind, my grand plans were infallible. However, out in the real world, under the raw scrutiny of my business hero, I suddenly wasn’t as confident about my entrepreneurial future.
Success Isn’t Always Measured in Dollars
My dad loved me, which is why he was so rough on my business ideas. In fact, many of the people who will try to talk you out of your big dreams and ambitions will do so because they care about you. The more they care, the harder they’ll fight.
You need to remember that most people are risk averse. Many people find comfort and security in working a stable job with low risk and a steady paycheck. Even other entrepreneurs will try to talk you out of starting your business because they know just how difficult chasing your dream can be. They’ll try to convince you not to take the leap into the small business unknown, all the while telling you how successful they want you to be.
All this input can be difficult for an entrepreneur, so it’s important to define clearly what it means to be a success.
For a small business owner, success can mean a lot of things: being your own boss, turning a profit, realizing consistent positive ROI, or seeing your product reach the market. But, the one thing success should mean for all entrepreneurs is living the life you want to live. If you want to live life on your terms, by your rules, where you are the boss, then being an entrepreneur is a surefire way to make that happen.
In fact, it was that intense desire to be my own boss that made me buck my dad’s advice and start my own business—in the basement of a factory of all places! Something was calling to me. Something that would empower me to endure being called crazy. Something energized me well into the night, joyfully sleep deprived, as I tried to make a business idea work. I felt something, and I had to follow it because I knew I wouldn’t be happy chasing anyone else’s dream but my own.
I’m glad I did. Thirty years later I’m the CEO of a multi-million dollar online accounting and payroll company, Patriot Software. I’ve made my dad proud, provided for a family, lived an incredibly blessed life, and been able to provide an environment where my co-workers can thrive, follow their dreams, and raise their families.
Knowing When NOT to Listen
I’m a serial entrepreneur, and I can tell you that I didn’t have success because I was the smartest or most business savvy person in the world. I didn’t have all the answers when I started, and chances are, you won’t either. I had an insatiable appetite to learn and succeed. And the desire for success made me a great listener.
When you set off to start your business, you should seek wise counsel from those who know more than you. Remain objective, listen to good input from experienced people, and ignore the fear-filled projections of naysayers if you can logically prove that your idea can be successful.
While this part of your business journey may feel a lot like an emotional intervention, believe me, it’s important. When you are running your business, there is little framework to distinguish between personal and professional life. The two often blur together, with life goals and career goals intermingling until they are nearly identical with each other.
As an entrepreneur you will be constantly put to the test, asked to take risks, and confronted by people who will project their risk aversion on you. You will be pushed to produce a successful business plan defined by hard numbers. You can’t avoid it, so you need to know what and who to listen to, and when to filter out the distractions.
Negative advice isn’t without merit. As a business owner, you need to think things through. Analyzing and testing advice to decipher why the advice is bad can be a great exercise. Businesses aren’t black and white, but gray and nebulous. When you become better at navigating these murky waters, your business has a better chance of succeeding.
My best advice is this: Heed wise counsel from those who have successfully started and run their own businesses, while finding realistic solutions to overcome the negative comments you’ll receive. And, in my experience, the bulk of the advice you’ll receive is going to be negative. Rather than ignore negativity, use it to sharpen your business dreams.
Maybe you’re destined to start your own business, and maybe you’re not. I believe that anybody can start a business, grow their business, and prosper from it. Whether or not you go for it, is up to you. Don’t let people talk you out of something that your gut is telling you is right. I hope this article will help you decide. But, I will promise you one thing: I will not be a naysayer!
This article was written by Mike Kappel from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.