Written by Daniel Nkado, for DNB Stories.
The last thing a person planning to or who just recently started a business needs is any form of doubt or discouragement. Sadly, this discouragement is going to come from the people closest to you.
The people most likely to judge your capabilities in managing a startup are your immediate family and friends – your uncles, aunties, closest friends in school, or out of school, office buddies, and even your own parents.
It might not be that they totally do not want you to become successful (in some cases, though, they don’t) – it is just in the nature of people to sculpt a version of you from the extent they know you and always project it. Most of your older relatives who saw your birth might take longer to catch up with your growth.
Your big aunt for a long time will continue to see you as that little child playing naked in the sand. Your uncle will keep looking at you as the toddler who could barely walk upright without falling. You will never grow in your mom’s eyes – to her, you are still the chu-chu that never says no to breastmilk. Your siblings will keep seeing you as the small boy or girl they played okoso with. That your best friend in school still sees you as the boy or girl they go to steal mangoes with. So it is usually harder for them to see your growth, to think you are capable enough to do what you are set out to do.
The worst part is that they will not keep their fear and doubt to themselves. Unlike a stranger who will think twice before approaching you out of nowhere to talk to you about your personal life, your family and friends will do this with apparent impunity. Some of them will not just talk, they will scream. They will tell you stories about everybody they know that started the same business and failed. And this is how most businesses die early or are never even started.
In actual truth, it is possible to pick a few meaningful things from a relative or close associate’s argument but you should be mature enough to know when somebody is trying to help you or just simply telling you that you stand no chance. In my opinion, I believe you can get more constructive advice from people you don’t know than your family and close friends. In fact, you actually can get more helpful advice from online sources, from people freely writing the best they know about a particular subject without any attached sentiments.
Another thing to know is that your family and friends will be the last to patronize your new business, so if you are starting a business thinking that your rich uncle in Magodo will become your first client, you are on your own. You have to leave out your family and friends when setting targets and broaden your scope. Reach people who don’t know you or have any preconceived idea of what you can do.
Most businesspeople could recall that the first time a family member or close friend patronized their business was in the form of a trial. The payment they make to you is like a sacrifice to them because they are already almost fully convinced that you are going to disappoint them.
That is the kind of doubt people very close to you will have of your ability to do anything. And they will keep projecting that idea for a long time. So the best thing to do actually is to leave your family and friends out as you set up and grow your business. They will come by later.
Do not start a salon business because one of your aunties is always looking for where to make her hair. Broaden your survey and be sure that there are possibly thousands (or millions) of others looking for the service you are bringing apart from that aunty of yours. Because, mark this, you will not be seeing that your aunty in your salon for a long time.
Maybe you have a group of friends who are always looking for where to buy fragrances from and you stupidly opened a perfumery thinking they will be the first to try your products. You are on a long thing. Leave them first and concentrate on widening your reach. I will tell you again, do not open a business intending to serve the needs of your immediate family and friends – start a business for your larger community instead. A business with endless opportunities.
Your family and friends will only start to patronize you when you have become the best in what you do and leave them no other choice than not to come to you. And then you can bill the eff out of them. Make them understand they can no longer afford you.
Daniel Nkado is a Nigerian writer and the founder of DNB Stories.