You may say that the opinion and support of others doesn’t matter. Stop kidding yourself.
“I have a job”. It’s something I’ve proclaimed to family and friends many times. No, I don’t wake up and go into an office. No, I don’t have a 401k and pension. And no, there’s no ten-year plan (as entrepreneurs, we like to call it the “next month” plan). But yes, I do have a real, bona-fide big-boy job.
I get it. Running a primarily web-based company, making close to six figures, working from my couch while watching Boy Meets World reruns can be hard to fathom. But believe it or not, I work hard. In fact, harder than I’ve ever worked before.
But it’s still a relatively “new” concept. Being a twenty-something entrepreneur who has (thus far) been very successful is hard for mom and dad to “get”. I’m not following the path I was supposed to. I didn’t put in years of effort to get where I am. I didn’t pay my dues, scratching and clawing my way to the top.
And that’s because the American Dream is changing. Leave it to Newt Gingrich of all people to inspire me when he said recently that we, as Americans, and even worldwide, should be focused on not only finding work, but OWNING our work. Paving our own road. Climbing our own ladder. Defining our own purpose. Living our own American Dream.
From my conversations with fellow entrepreneurs, I know you know where I’m coming from. It’s tough to sit around the dinner table while your family talks about all the paperwork they’re dealing with at work. The one new patient my cousin, who’s a doctor, started seeing last week. Showing grandma my laptop and explaining to her that almost everything I do happens through that 15″ screen.
We talk so much about how you don’t have to prove anything to anyone but yourself. But let’s face it – what the people closest to you think does matter – your family, your friends, you want them to understand, and more importantly, you want that support from the people you love.
In the immortal words of Will Smith, “Parents just don’t understand”. But I think they’re starting to come around. They’re starting to understand the possibilities we have, even at a very young age.
Remember when your parents used to tell you that the sky is the limit? Now they actually believe it. They believe, we believe, I believe, that the only thing holding you back from doing anything you want to be doing is yourself.
In the early going, it was tough. Incredibly tough. I honestly felt like every day I had to prove to everyone that I could run my own business. That I could actually get clients and make money. That I wouldn’t be packing my things and moving home so I could live for free and mow the lawn for a few bucks.
But instead of resenting the people who believed what I was doing wasn’t a viable career option, I used it as motivation. Not to prove anything to them, but to prove something, everything, to myself.
Let this be a lesson, to anyone out there who is considering starting a business after graduating. To anyone who’s thinking about taking the leap from the corporate nine to five to the life of an entrepreneur. To anyone who’s seeking funding for their big idea…
Haters gonna’ hate. Lovers gonna’ love. Disbelievers will disbelieve. Supporters will support. But at the end of the day, the only assurance and the only validation you have to provide is to yourself. Prove something to yourself, every single day.
Because now, more than ever, in this country and around the world, what can be done, will be done.
What about you? Is it tough explaining to your family what you do? Are you worried about the support of friends and family? Has a lack of acceptance and understanding from others held you back? Share in the comments.