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12 Ways to Support the Entrepreneur in Your Life

Sharifa Felix

By Sharifa Felix

To say becoming an entrepreneur is difficult is an understatement. We admire the individuals that take the risk to step into the cold, harsh business world. We admire their unrelenting persistence and clarity of vision while we read the bios of the successful ones. Generally speaking, there is a LONG time between when a person consciously decides to become an entrepreneur to the time you or I read their bio in EmergeNC or they grace the cover of Forbes.

There are plenty of articles, magazines, and events for entrepreneurs, but what about the spouses, friends, and family members who inherently become part of the ride. It can be just as much as an emotional and financial roller coaster for them as it is for the entrepreneur. All we want for the people in our lives that we love is for them to be happy, healthy, and successful. As the number of tools increases for small businesses and the level of empowerment rises to have, to OWN, and to operate our own successful enterprises within our communities, more minorities and females are taking the leap to turn their great idea to into tangible, wealth-building legacies. With that, here are ten ways to support the entrepreneur in your life.

  1. Respect the courage and ambition
    1. Deciding to become an entrepreneur requires a lot of heart, especially in a society that systematically grooms employees and in some cases, sends the message that success is unlikely or inaccessible to others. Even if you think the idea or individual is far left, acknowledge the entrepreneur’s desire to transcend the status quo.
  1. Be positive and uplifting
    1. Be genuinely positive in your support, your words, and actions. Half the battle of being an entrepreneur is mental. Regularly share with your entrepreneur the respect you have for them ACTIVELY pursuing their dream. Kind words can help your entrepreneur redirect when they’ve experienced a setback or give them the courage to take a big step outside the box. The benefit is two-fold: You will be surprised how much encouraging somebody can actually invigorate you.
  1. If it seems weird or you don’t understand, don’t judge. Ask questions.
    1. For entrepreneurs, their vision is as clear as the sky is blue, but sometimes it’s difficult for those around them to comprehend. If the Why, What, How, When, and Where are unclear to you, ask questions through the lens of curiosity not cynicism. Then ask some more. Reserve your judgement, if the How, When, and Where can’t be answered immediately. There is no instruction manual for manifesting your dream; somethings are To Be Determined.
  1. Listen
    1. That does not simply mean not talking when your entrepreneur is talking, it means ACTIVELY listening. Open your mind to the realm of possibility, collaborative problem solving, and success. I know it may be hard for some non-entrepreneurs. It’s easy to reply with all the reasons why something won’t work or has been done before. If the urge to reply with something negative is strong or you feel is necessary, respond in a solution-oriented way by asking a question. (ie. Such and such tried to launch a similar idea a couple years ago and it didn’t work. How is your idea different or going to overcome that challenge?)
  1. Ask permission to play devil’s advocate
    1. Being prepared to respond to a substantial wave of critics and work though undesirable situations is essential to an entrepreneur’s ultimate success. It’s healthy to regularly test the viability of an idea in a safe environment. However, before you rattle off volley of undesirable hypotheticals, let your entrepreneur know so they can mentally prepare themselves to respond to the onslaught of kill-joy, pessimistic line of questioning which you’re about to deliver. You may uncover some legitimate shortcoming in their plans and they may feel some type of way about it for a couple days, but they’ll know you’re being negative from a good place, not a hater. They can process the information in the most constructive way. Erykah Badu precisely captures the entrepreneur’s sentiment when she says, “I’m an artist. I’m sensitive about my….”
  1. Share your knowledge & resources
    1. The world of information is vast and deep. Knowing where to start, who to seek, what to say “yes” or “no” to is daunting. Regardless of how much research or experience you have, there is not enough time to collect and decipher what is useful and relevant to you. Point your entrepreneur in the direction of resources or contacts that can aid them in their mission. Understand, I’m not advocating for investing your life savings, jeopardizing valuable relationships, or being sorely inconvenienced for their dream. Support them where you can. Realize the power that a nugget of information or an introduction can have in facilitating a breakthrough. Ask them regularly what challenges they are having while respecting their decision to not take your advice sometimes.
  1. Celebrate the big and little successes
    1. Help your entrepreneur celebrate their progress by celebrating the big and small successes. Sometime it’s difficult for entrepreneur’s to pat themselves on the back if the main objective has not been met. Again, this is part the mental aspect of entrepreneurship. Acknowledge their growth as a person and within the business. Remind them that achieving their small goals and overcoming setbacks are the small brush strokes on a masterpiece of a canvas that is not finished yet.
  1. Verbalize and show your support to others
    1. We cannot understate the importance of word of mouth. If you believe in the talent or the idea of your entrepreneur, find opportunities to brag on them and talk about what they are doing. People will ask you questions. Answer enthusiastically and have contact information. Marketing is no good if you don’t have a vehicle to convert a curious prospect to a customer. If you’re a social media junkie, share, like, follow, tweet, snap, pin, comment, etc. to help them gain buzz in the virtual hemisphere. When used intentionally and consistently, social media can be a very powerful tool for some businesses.
  1. Understand that passion is expressed in different ways
    1. If your entrepreneur is reserved and quiet, don’t underestimate their enthusiasm or commitment to fulfilling their dream. Not everyone has a Ray Lewis ritual for summoning their focus in the morning or the charming personality and swagger of a Barak Obama to work a room. I would assert that the people who are extrovertly contrary are often times the most brilliantly talented and the most measured thinkers. Help them develop their people and presentation skills, so they can communicate their vision to others in   interpersonal settings.
  1. Expect the failures. Train for the shot. Coach for the rebound.
    1. Failures are inevitable. They are part of the process. All successful people endure their fair share of disappointments, miscalculations, and poor execution. The makings of a legendary entrepreneur is their ability to recover quickly from setback by learning from their mistakes. To put plainly in basketball terminology, we must be confident that the shot will go in. However, we must be prepared when it doesn’t go in and anticipate the rebound so that the clock reset’s, the ball is in our possession. When your entrepreneur experiences a setback, coach for the rebound from the sidelines. As the great coaches say, “Extend the play. It’s not over till it’s over.”