When you dream of up-levelling your small business to running a market-leading business or even starting a business it can be hard to take steps forward. Especially if you are faced with concern, lack of enthusiasm or even opposition from your loved ones (spouse, family, friends).
Or maybe you feel guilty for sacrificing the needs of your family. Society delegates the majority share of responsibility as the carer to women. As men, the responsibility of stability. It’s time to challenge those norms and walk an equal path towards our dreams and goals.
In this episode, I share my story, experiences and advice to those in the sticky situation between taking a leap of faith and facing the doubts of others (and perhaps even your own doubts). I’ll walk you through some truth bombs. And expose the two main reasons you may be struggling for moral or practical support from the ones closest to you.
Listen to the player above or read the blog below.
Upleveling your business when you don’t have the support from your loved ones
This is a topic close to my heart. My content manager suggests that people are talking about this subject right now because the school holidays are coming up. So many parents are considering how they will get through the summer with childcare. And there is still an expectation on women that we should be the ones to look after the kids during school holidays.
Expectations on women
We are a blended family. I started my business journey with my ex. He is a great Dad. I went into that relationship knowing I would be the primary parent.
Yet, I see many circumstances where men asked for time off for work to look after kids and the response is that the partner should be doing this. In my world, I don’t look upon school holidays as to how I will manage that time.
Sometimes, in society, women are not taken seriously in business. I carried this for a long time. We need to start looking at this to recognise the value, worth and ability for women to run exceptionally good businesses. We also need to look at the view we carry of ourselves.
As women, we can feel responsible for making sure we cover periods of time like school holidays. We can hold ourselves back when we feel this responsibility. And we can hold a lot of guilt. Feel like we let our family down if we work on our business.
Much of this is a personal choice. I’ve had many conversations with people with different values, views and priorities. I am respectful of what anyone wants to do. But it needs to come from an empowered place of what you want to do. For example, choosing to not uplevel your business until your children are older. I respect that choice.
You may have to meet your responsibilities to our families. But we can be primary parents, raise amazing human beings and still run successful businesses.
As a working mum, I don’t spend as much time with my children as a stay-at-home mum. I have a support network around me. It didn’t start out this way. As our business grows, we can put more support into our family. There is sacrifice. We are great role models to our children. Showing them what they can achieve in the world.
Sometimes to move towards your goal, things have to shift, change, and you need to make sacrifices to get there. Isn’t that the way of life? It can be about the sprints. Making stuff happen and then bringing it back to what is important for us. Which is our family. You cannot be at Ground Zero all of the time, though. If things are at zero, then you do not get progression.
Creating time to do all of these things does not mean spending any time on up-levelling your business. You have a dream. You can have kids and an outside mission.
If you have a dream, then you have a responsibility to follow that dream. If something is clawing away at you, then it is likely that is part of your purpose. Feeling that knocking away at you is usually a sign that you need to take action. There is no shame in it. Even if, at times, it feels like there is. You need to release that guilt about prioritising time. You have a right to uplevel your business.
What can you do about expectations?
You decide the expectations. You do not have to fall into stereotypes. Or follow the norm. You do you and sod everybody else who does not agree. If you have a dream, it is your responsibility to follow it.
It is not your spouse’s responsibility, your friends or your family’s responsibility to support you. While it is lovely when you do get support, they do not need to give it. Stop waiting for their support and permission. Stop blaming them for the fact you have not moved forward. Let that go. It is your responsibility to do what you want in your life. Stop waiting for others to believe in you.
Why people don’t support you
The biggest reason people don’t support you is that they cannot see what you can do. They see the version that they’ve known for years. Their view of your capabilities is based on what they’ve seen so far. So they don’t know you. Only you know you and your potential. It could be that you’ve bumbled along for years at the same pace. So they underestimate what you can achieve.
You need to believe in yourself, support your dream and make it happen. If your dream is to run an incredible business, make it successful and be impactful, then you need to take that action.
It is not about asking permission. You can absolutely ask for that support. Keeping that communication channel open with your partner is so important. But it is not about asking for permission. It is about communicating with them. They need to see your confidence.
During business, we can feel unconfident in what we’re doing. We are pioneers. Everything is new. For example, we are doing things in our travel company that no travel company has done before. That’s scary. It can feel wobbly, and you can second-guess.
I am really fortunate to have a partner who helps me and gets it. We work as a team. There are people out there who have hugely successful businesses where their partner does not have a clue about business. It doesn’t make them less of a partner; they are not in the same brain space.
Be a role model
My business journey started in a relationship that did not support where I was heading. They underestimated where I am now and where I have got to. So, I feel like a totally different person. I have gone from being financially and emotionally reliant to finding my own independence.
If your partner fails to see your potential, it does not mean there is no love, and you can’t work through it. You can show them what you are made of. You can be a role model for your spouse and friends who are underestimating you. It will be wobbly because you are doing things outside of the norm.
Step out of your comfort zone. Stop waiting for permission. Stop waiting for support. Do what you need to do to move forwards. Unapologetically. You don’t have to be angry about a lack of support. Be a role model for your family and show how it can be done.
My ex-partner values stability above everything else. That is his key driver. So it is difficult for him to be able to step into risk-taking. All those things can be difficult. We all value stability. It is a basic human need. But he held stability in high esteem. So stepping into an entrepreneurial business takes him outside his comfort zone. And he protects his values.
This is what is usually happening when your spouse is scared. You need to have enough faith for both of you and to take your dreams forward.
How do you support their dreams?
If you want your partner to support you, ask yourself how you support them and their dreams? How are you helping them see how this can work? You need to make them feel this is safe. And equally, you need to support their dreams and goals. When you give support back, they are more likely to give you support and take a chance. You need to look at this objectively. And really ask if you are supporting their goals, too.
I am not a relationship coach, but I have seen people need to step away from relationships to be able to move forwards. But the issues were in the relationship beforehand. However, in most cases, you can still uplevel your business without emotional support from your spouse. Prove to them that you can do this.
Get support from the right place
Maybe instead of support from your partner, you need support from a business coach. You need someone on your side. I see this quite often. I will advise, and the client will come back and say that their partner didn’t think that was a great idea. Well, has this person built a multi-seven figure business?
Some people are lucky and have very business-minded partners. That’s great. But most people do not speak from experience and who you take advice from matters. Especially if they have a vested interest in stability and keeping things as they are right now to feel safe.
Ask yourself if they are the only person you rely on for that support. Sometimes you need to invest in support with someone who has been there and done what you are doing. And can also bring confidence to your partner. I will get people on calls who say that they need their partner to be on board with this. That’s great; get them on the call. I want your partner to have the same confidence in my helping you and for them to have confidence in you.
To have a second pair of eyes to say I believe in you, what you are doing, that your business can be something huge. And that you can take it to the next level. I’m happy for partners to jump on calls with me so that they can be on board with you as much as possible.
Some people can be too fearful and remember it is not their responsibility to do. Sometimes, if you can’t get their buy-in, it’s your responsibility to prove them wrong. Show them what you’re about. Show them what you’re made of. Then when you want to take it to the next level, they will feel safe.
People value stability
Andy and I had started to build the travel company to six figures. He was still contracting. There was a part of me that was fearful. I knew that if we did not take that leap and say, let’s do this, then we’d never be where we are today. You need to give capacity and create space to grow.
You don’t want to quit things before you put work in first to make sure that plan is positive. For some people, stability does not come into it. Or they rely on their partner to carry them through.
If you have a partner to do this, then fantastic. I would still recommend you check the viability of your business idea to do things before you quit, especially if you have time to spend and start it off slowly. You have to be reasonable. Think about your plan of action and how you will be replacing your income. You then still support their value system of stability. It makes it easier on your partner.
Being the only breadwinner in a family can feel so scary. We have to understand this in our partners and spouses. We have to be smart and take our partners into account if we want that to work.
I started without any financial backing to make this work. If you don’t have support, you need to find a way to make it work. It is not your partner’s responsibility. But it is your responsibility to find a way and have the self-belief to move forward.
Get outside support
I paid for confidence. One of the first things I invested in was someone who would help me feel like I can do this. I needed this, so I invested in confidence. Instead of looking to friends and family. In principle, they support me, but they can only see the version of me that they’ve seen for years. You may feel like they are waiting for you to fail. It’s your responsibility to educate them that it won’t be smooth sailing. You might mess up, and it may not work out, but here’s how you’ll navigate this.
Worst case scenario is that I’ll do whatever I need to do to make sure my family are supported. And they need to hear you say that so that they can get on board with your commitment to making it work. Show them your goals and dreams. Your vision for your family. How will meeting your goal help them meet their goals? Get them invested and excited about the team dream.
This topic affects everyone in some way. At some point, you will be underestimated, be doubted, feel unsupported. You will have to fight external expectations. It is your responsibility to navigate through this.
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