What every small business owner wants is a big metaphorical hug

… or a real hug, some days…

A friend who owns a small business near my home asked me about support the other day.

As in, she wasn’t getting any from her family, and she wanted to know if I had any tips on getting some.

“Her family” was broadly described as her husband, kids, pets, her brothers, and her mom. Dad, apparently, had no opinion, which was just about the same as being non-supportive. Or just about the same as the pets. I forget.

If you’re just starting out on your business journey, maybe you can relate to her woes. Nobody seems to be rah-rah-ing in your corner. You’re working 852-hour weeks and still managing to clean the toilet. It’s bad enough that sales are slow to none, but then your brother seems determined to tear you down, as if your trying to get ahead is a problem for him, when doggone it, he should see it as amazing for you, and…


The only problem is, this woman’s been in business for seven years. She’s no startup entrepreneur.

What’s this story about?

A couple of things. One is, don’t think there’s some magical day when you emerge from the pupal stage gorgeous and fluttering and all your family will suddenly think your business is awesome and they’ve been so wrong about your abilities and your marvellous ideas and they should make time to massage your feet more often and bring you black raspberry ice cream.

It ain’t gonna happen.

In fact, some will actively hate your success more than they actively hated your striving, so you’d better develop a thick skin. (You’ll need it every day in business anyway.) If you’ve been around a while, you should feel free to shout an “a-men!” in the comment section.

The other is, I’m sure your family is wonderful and I can understand your wanting their approval. I’ve heard myths that some people have even got family support, but those tall tales are hard to verify. Whether you’ve got it or not, the prickly truth is, the approval that counts the most is the approval of your customers. You know, the folks you’re trying every day to create Maximum Customer Experience for.

When those folks vote with their dollars for your incredible skills or amazing products, you’ve got the endorsement that you need most. And if you’re chasing family approval instead of satisfied—no, delighted—customers, you are spending a good portion of your day aiming directly at the wrong target.

I hope your family is behind you 100% with horns and banners and pom-poms. But because I’m obsessed with your success, I’d rather that you turn around and see if your customers are part of the parade.

You know I’m there.  🙂

Am I dead-on about where the most important support is, or dead wrong?

Have you got support? How has it changed over the years you’ve been in business? Shout about it in the comments…


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson