For most aspiring entrepreneurs, telling your parents that you are quitting your stable day job to go pursue an entrepreneurial venture is one of the most frightening things you will ever do in life. Entrepreneurship is not well supported in many societies and even less so among Asian culture. My parents were first generation immigrants to the United States from Korea. My dad’s first job in America back in the 1970’s was as a janitor making $2 an hour. The word entrepreneurship did not exist in his vocabulary. In fact, he toiled his entire working life to ensure that his kids would find a nice, safe, respectable job (as a doctor) within a stable organization so we would not have to go through the same struggles that he did. Education was seen as the way out for that generation, which is why so many Asian parents stress the importance of it. Even entrepreneurial parents who may have run successful small businesses would rather pour their savings into their kids education than see them struggle.
How then do you have the talk with your parents and what’s the best way to approach the matter? It’s hard enough trying to become an entrepreneur so how do you ensure that the people closest to you (your family) will support you?
I had an opportunity to ask Ramit Sethi, New York Times bestselling author and founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich what the best way to approach this topic was. Sethi went through this exact process himself when he had to tell his parents that he was turning down a job offer from Google (who does that?!) to co-found a Silicon Valley tech startup and then subsequently leave that to work on his personal finance blog. He ended up growing that personal finance blog to more than 1 million+ readers per month while building a successful company that now generates revenues of up to $5 million per week. And it all started with a simple conversation he had with his parents.
You must earn the right
Before you even think about having the talk, you better have put in the work. Your immigrant parents defied all odds to put you through school and get to where they are today. They understand the values of hard work and discipline. So before you pull them aside on a whim and tell them you are going to build the next Snapchat, make sure you have earned their trust with a solid track record.
“Really what matters is what have you done for the months and years before? Have you proven that you can be disciplined in your schoolwork, in your job, or in saving money? Have you proven that you’re responsible, that you have good values, that you visit your family? If you’ve done all those things, the conversation itself is largely immaterial. But what that really means is you need to have done the work before you go in for that conversation,” says Sethi.
Sethi’s dad wanted him to become an engineer. By the time he told his parents he was turning down the coveted job offer from Google to go build a startup, Sethi had already gotten really good grades at Stanford and that earned him the right to have that conversation.
Take the Judo Approach
We all are fully aware of the Asian tradition of honoring one’s parents and while it is important to be honest and direct you also need to be respectful when the time comes to have the talk. Be cognizant of the context under which your parents grew up and help them understand where you are coming from. Doing this will make them less likely to fight back or reject your idea even before hearing you out. Here’s what Sethi suggests:
“I actually like to take a judo approach, and this is something I would try. You can go to your parents and say, ‘You know what? Mom, dad, I’ve been thinking about doing something different…I’ve been reading a lot about all these entrepreneurs…and it’s something that I’m curious about. What do you think?’ Instead of confronting them and telling them what you’re going to do, you’re actually asking them for advice.”
So what if they still completely reject your idea? Remember to stay respectful and appreciate their opinion. Thank them and let them know you will think about it and really value their feedback. The important thing is that you planted the seed in their minds. After some time, revisit the subject again and make sure they know that the worst case scenario is that you are young and can always go back and get a stable job. Let them know you were listening to their input and that you are being rational.
Don’t wait another day
At the end of the day your parents just want what is best for you. If they’ve struggled in the past, they know firsthand how difficult life is and the last thing they want is for their children to have to experience the same thing. Sethi’s latest book, his first in nearly a decade, is called Your Move: The Underdog’s Guide to Building Your Business and it shows readers exactly how to escape the 9-to-5.
One of the best pieces of advice that Sethi heard on this topic came from one of his successful students. She wanted to quit her high paying finance job to try her hand at entrepreneurship and her Asian parents were ready to disown her. Her advice? Get impatient with yourself. Whether that means getting good grades in school, doing an exceptional job at your corporate job or, sitting down to have the talk with your parents, start today. Don’t wait another day, month, or year. Becoming a successful entrepreneur is hard enough as it is, you’re going to need all the time in the world to get there.
Source By forbes.com