What to do with ‘well meaning advice’ from friends & family

What to do with ‘well meaning advice’ from friends & family

I’m sure it’s happened to you. You’re passionate about your business and it takes up a lot of your life so you can’t help sharing some of it with friends and family.

They’ll ask you how your business is doing and you reply with an honest answer that may involve a challenge you’re currently facing.

It can be lonely as a business owner and you can miss having a team around you to bounce ideas around with.

However, you soon learn that family and friends often have an opinion and advice to offer you, even when it isn’t asked for.

Often this may cause some conflict for you as their advice isn’t what you want or need right now.

You see, well meaning advice from friends and family is often coming from one of two places:

  1. Wanting to protect you and keep you safe. This is all very well but, in terms of running a business, keeping you safe often means ‘why don’t you ditch the business and go back to a nice safe job’. They may see all the hard work you’re putting in and the stress you are under and interpret this as ‘running a business is bad for you’. And so, in their desire to protect you, they want to take you away from what they perceive the problem to be – your business! This misses the mark completely (yes you’re busy, yes you’re stressed, but you’re also loving it and have got the entrepreneurial bug!) and you start to think that they just don’t get it, or get you anymore.
  2. They’re jealous that you’ve actually done something that they would love to do but never get round to. They want to continue to bitch about their job and their boss and don’t like the fact that you are no longer joining in. They feel resentful and take any opportunity to try and knock you down a bit, in an effort to make themselves feel better.

Recognise anyone yet?

It can feel awkward in these  situations to know how to handle it and what to say, so here’s my top tips:

1. Thank them

Whenever anyone offers you advice I’d always recommend that you start off by thanking them. A simple ‘thanks for the advice, I’ll have a think about it’, will do. You don’t need to get in a discussion about it unless you want to, and this can be a good tactic for setting the scene that you are in charge of your business and make the decisions.

2. What’s their motive?

Consider briefly where they are coming from with their advice. Are they already running a successful business or have some relevant experience that means they are in a position to offer informed advice? Or are they trying to protect you in a well meaning way, or even trying to knock you down without realising it?

3. Trust your own instincts

By all means consider their advice, but don’t let this over-ride your own instincts about something. You understand your business better than anyone else.

4. Lose the ‘naysayers’

The ones who are coming from a place of trying to knock you down to make themselves feel better, sometimes you need to make the tough decision not to see them anymore. Or, at least not to talk about your business with them. Who you spend time with and surround yourself with as a business is not be underestimated – how do you feel when you spend time around positive people versus negative people?

As Jim Rohn says ‘You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with’, so choose wisely!

5. Get the support you really need

As a business owner you do need support, so figure out where you need it and build a team around you that will propel you and your business forward. By the way, this doesn’t usually include friends and family!

Examples are:

  1. Mentors – experienced business owners who have already accomplished what you want to.
  2. Peer group – other business owners at similar stages in their business
  3. Business advisers / consultants – specialists such as accountants and solicitors, or marketing consultants that not only provide specialist advice but can also strengthen up any areas that aren’t your ‘thing’.
  4. Business coach – someone who can provide accountability as well as expertise in a range of areas and a voice to challenge you and support you.

I’d love to know any experiences you’ve had with well meaning friends and family, and any extra tips you have to deal with their advice – please leave me a comment below to let me know.


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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.
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