Navigating the Business Start-Up Naysayers

Performance Tip of the Week

When the idea of starting your own business first took root in your heart, you may have experienced fearful hesitation about sharing the exciting news with certain people in your life.


Because some people fall into the category of the spirit-sucking, dream-crashing, naysayers. Their comments, sometimes laced with tinges of sarcasm, may come from a place of sincere desire for your well-being, but more often are the result of your spotlight highlighting their own fears, faults, and self-imposed limitations.

A Mirror or a Sponge?

Life is chock full of choices, some harder than others. But when it comes to deciding who to welcome into your daily life, and who to hold at a distance, you better be smart about setting healthy boundaries.

At any crossroad, involving someone else’s opinion about the direction you are blazing in your life, you must decide whether to be a mirror or a sponge. It’s that simple.

Think about the role of a sponge — it’s designed to absorb that with which it comes in contact. The sponge doesn’t get to choose whether to soak up the finest Cabernet instead of dirty mop water. And if you act like a sponge, neither will you. As a sponge, you will eventually get weighed down by the precepts of others, and ultimately become what you have absorbed.

As a mirror, you get to stay in the control seat of your life by selecting what to reflect. Taking this proactive and engaging, self-preservation stance is not about being mean. You simply decide whose beliefs, ideas, and path are right for you.

But before you go tossing well-intentioned friends, colleagues or family members off the nearest cliff, use the following 3 offensive tactics to transform the naysayers into champions for your cause:

1. Announce – No one can read your mind, so invite your naysayers to sit down with you so you can share your plans. It’s much better to let loved ones know what you are thinking in advance, than to spring a major life change upon them overnight.

2. Educate – Once you have a captive audience, succinctly outline the big points of your action plan, why you are passionate about this decision or direction, and how you will make your dreams a reality. Eliminating the unknowns helps to mitigate concerns about risk.

3. Recruit – Often the biggest naysayers are simply inadequately expressing their own insecurity. Some are worried about being left behind. Engage them in the conversation, and provide them an opportunity to get involved, even if it just means being a member of your cheering squad.

There are some people you are better off without in life. But there are plenty of others you would prefer to have on your side. Just remember that you are ultimately in control of your future, so do what it takes to reflect your best regularly, choosing the paths that align with your heart. Some naysayers may never come around. But by being a consistent mirror, and keeping people apprised and involved, others may surprise you.

How have you been handling your naysayers?

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  1. Posted October 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    One of the first things any serious entrepreneur should do is to shun negabots. Whether well-meaning relatives or just plain well-intentioned people, these mental parasites, can well suck the enthusiasm of the most hard-headed entrepreneur. An entrepreneur must surround herself not neccesarily with a bunch of YES! people, but with a supportive circle.

    • Posted October 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I agree that we need to eliminate or at least reduce the amount of time we spend with those who are set on sharing their two cents all the time, even if it doesn’t support our endeavors. But for the times when we are referring to a family member, using the strategies I outlined above can often win them over to the “good” side. 🙂

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