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Ask the Readers: Are You In It Alone?

questions-cardI left my day job and opened up shop as an entrepreneur 21 years ago. And, though I didn’t know it then, that was the day my father stopped understanding me.

My dad was a professor. His dad was an entrepreneur. He didn’t like his dad.

So, when I became an entrepreneur, it was the beginning of a great divide, though we didn’t see it at the time.

Sometimes, this great divide is more clear. A young woman signed up for the Audience Business Masterclass recently. She’s a very bright college student, and her parents had supported her in everything she tried to do – right up to the day she started the Audience Business Masterclass. Her parents got incredibly angry, and she was scared and hurt.

It can be a lot better than that, too.

Sometimes, being an entrepreneur runs in the family. In fact, we have three ABM students – a father, a daughter, and her husband – all in the Audience Business Masterclass, each one running his or her own business. And there are couples and partners making their businesses work, too, of course.

Is It Important to Be In It With Someone?

It matters. It hurts when we are not understood. And collaboration feels wonderful.

But it also matters for our success in business. I once asked a top expert in franchising what the key to success in managing a franchise was. With franchises, we are talking about a system where a person buys a business with location, content, marketing, and business plan all in place. And he told me, quite simply, that the number one predictor of success is whether or not one’s husband or wife really supports the effort.

So, today’s blog post is to share your experience of being in the business of starting a business – alone, or not alone.

You may be the only one running the business. Or you may be working with a friend or family member.

If You’re In It Alone:

  • Does your family or spouse (personal partner) understand?
  • Are they supportive?
  • Are they resentful or contentious about time or money?
  • Are they afraid of the uncertainty?
  • Do they just not get it?
  • Do they think you’re nuts?

If You Are With a Partner Who’s Also In It With You:

  • When is it loving and fun?
  • Do you hate each other sometimes? Do you need to get away from each other?
  • Can you separate business from personal life? How do you do that?

So, whether you’re in it alone or together, what’s that like? What works? What doesn’t? What hurts? What’s wonderful?

What’s what? 😉

Please share your experience – your pains and pleasures of being an entrepreneur in, around, and maybe in spite of family – in the comments below. It’s a chance to vent, feel the sympathy of folks who will understand, and help one another be a bit less alone on the journey.

About Sid Kemp

Sid Kemp, PMP, has written 9 books and dozens of articles on business success, project management, and quality management. You can see and buy all of his published books at Amazon.com.

73 comments

  1. Sid Kemp says:

    Ana! I really appreciate your commitment. Danny’s phrase for times like you are going through is “sometimes, it is all you can do to put one foot in front of the other.”

    These times do end. I can say so from experience – though mine lasted 10 years!

    I enjoy each breath as if it is my first!

  2. Ana says:

    Wow, Sid, you hit the nail on the head with that one! Makes me think that, yeah, I just want one more day to breathe … and then say it each day.

    Just found out I have to use precious dollars to buy another car to replace my barely-running one. I did not want this! That money was supposed to be used to help support me if I don’t find another job in time.

    This is what happens when life gets in the way of … survival.

    But my business is still my priority. It WILL succeed. It has to.

  3. Sid Kemp says:

    Wow! Ana, you have a lot of courage. I’ve heard that the difference between being scared and being excited is just a simple matter – of breathing.

  4. Ana says:

    I’m very much alone in these beginning days of my business. I’m an editor and writer and I’m just now starting to feel that deep, inner satisfaction of seeing my work the way my clients are seeing it. The feeling can only be understood by others who do anything entrepreneurial.

    I have no immediate family of my own. My closest family consists of my sister and her family. They’re supportive — theoretically and when they see I’m actually getting paid for my work. It doesn’t support me fully yet, and I’m otherwise unemployed. I do need to find a final job to get me through to 100% independence. So these are scary days because there just aren’t many jobs for a sixtysomething woman.

    So yes, they are supportive but otherwise I’m completely alone. It’s scary because I don’t want to end up on the street these first months. It’s exciting because … I’m on my way to somewhere … awesome.

  5. Kshitij Gondhalekar says:

    I’m the lone entrepreneur in my family (unless you include extended family). While people are pretty much understanding, it can get difficult to explain people how I roll.

    My answers more often than not don’t make sense to them ( At times, they don’t make sense to me either)

    The good thing is dad’s super supportive (Well…actually, at times he’s the one with the faith and I’m the one who’s skeptical, even though he’s not the entrepreneur)

    All in all, it’s awesome!!

      1. Kshitij Gondhalekar says:

        I should probably have told you how close we are to our relatives!

        Any way, I’m always happy creating smiles (even accidentally 😉 )

        Keep up the great work!

  6. Kirstie says:

    I’m in an interesting mid-way position. My husband says he supports me with my writing (I’ve been published four times and won two awards thus far, so yay for chasing your dreams!) but not all of his actions match his words.
    Please note he does support me in a lot of ways, and I am so grateful he does that, but it’s hard not be be frustrated when I’ve asked for five minutes to get the ending of a story written, or finish a submission to a magazine and he just lets our toddler climb all over me instead of playing with him for those five minutes.
    I don’t usually complain, but it seems sometimes like the more successful I’m becoming, the less support he offers. I shouldn’t complain at all though, there are people who have no support at all from their family – sometimes it’s just nice to vent ;p

    1. Kirstie says:

      oh, and like all work-from-home types he thinks I just spend the whole day writing and facebooking, not cleaning, playing with and teaching our son, working the finances, cooking meals AS WELL AS all my writing and marketing

      1. Sid Kemp says:

        Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all spouses were totally enlightened, clear about what we did, and single-minded in their support?

        Ain’t gonna happen soon.

        But your husband is supportive and cooperative.

        Perhaps take some time aside. Make a week-long log of everything you did, and read it to him slowly.

        Perhaps explain to him how valuable those 5 minutes to finish a story or an article would be to you.

        Step by step, those who love us grow to understand.

  7. Well, this was a big eye-opener for me! I am one who does not quite have the support of my family, but it’s a bit different. While my husband does somewhat support what I’m doing, I can tell that he has doubts. But as for the rest of my family, (siblings mostly) some of them are rooting for me while some others could not care less. Although I am moving slowly because of one setback after another, this strange combination of having – yet not having support plays a big part in pushing me even further toward my goals. Thanks for the post and the comments as well!

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      I understand, Charlene. Sometimes feelings of ambivalence from our family are harder to handle even that a clear dismissal of what we do.

  8. Kathleen says:

    Ohhhh, this thread is a long, cool glass of water. Thank you. My friends are my ‘family’, and it hurts when they look away, or snigger. I’m in a small country, too, which doesn’t like difference. Until someone is successful, and suddenly they’re a big fish in a tiny puddle.

    Now, inside I’m jumping up and down, crowing “It’s not me! It’s not me! I’m not crazy!” Big round of applause and deep bow to you all.

  9. Cody says:

    Support is so very much needed. My family was apart of small businesses but they were not in the tech or digital field as I had become and so it was strange for them. Additionally entrepreneurial endeavors generally require investors a whole different ball game.

    Most of my family to this day believe that I’m “playing” on my computer. When I’m generally doing something related to code, writing or reviewing content.

    My wife has taken great strides in supporting my endeavors and so it’s a lot easier when the person closest to you is supporting you.

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      Hi Cody – Support is incredibly valuable. But needed? Perhaps not – take a look at Jeff’s post directly above.

      1. Cody says:

        Jeff actually mentioned that he did have people who would support him. He simply made the choice to not inform them. (at least this is how I’m reading it I could be wrong)

        We can succeed without the support of our closest loved ones but every reader, every sale is a silent nod of support as they’ve come to embrace the value we are providing (or attempting to).

        Perhaps we’re looking past each other because of our definitions of support. If we ignore the customer aspect of it. Then yes I agree one can get by without it. My first few ventures into the digital world was all by myself and I achieved success but it took 3 times as long, half the success rate and included questions regarding why I dabble online all the time.

        I do appreciate you pointing out Jeff’s comment though. Thanks

        1. Sid Kemp says:

          Cody, we agree.

          Your point about readers and customers being support (even readers who we never have contact with) is true and really important.

          I was thinking about what it can take to launch – the commitment that says, “I will do this no matter what anyone else does.” That commitment is how we reach those new readers and new customers, with support or without it.

  10. Jeff Davis says:

    Sid,

    Just for fun, here’s another Buddha quote for you, my favorite: “Those who experience the unity of life see their own self in all beings, and all beings as their own self, and look on everything with an impartial eye.” – Buddha

    I find that people are quick to stop you before you start but slow to stop you once you get going. As a quick example: my Toastmasters journey (a good analogy for the topic being discussed here). I didn’t seek anyone to support me. I didn’t tell anyone I was competing (outside of Toastmasters who were at the competitions to see me compete). I just showed up at the competitions, put my best foot forward, and kept doing my best. And I kept winning, but I wasn’t attached to the result. It was liberating to not have to make a big deal out of it or invite a bunch of friends and family to watch me compete. Don’t get me wrong, I do have people who support me and would watch me if I really wanted them to. I’m just saying that in my own experience it was easiest to just DO it, rather than talk about it. Ironically, by doing this, my message naturally gathered support unto itself.

    Now that I’m going to compete in Malaysia in a couple of weeks, I have told some people about it, but I’ve kept it in balance. In terms of ABM, I find it’s easiest to just DO it, rather than to talk about it with others too much (especially talking about it with the ones who aren’t that supportive).

    Are my friends and family supportive? Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t. But that’s not the point. The point is that by putting my focus into my business, the opinions of my friends and family then become irrelevant.

  11. Marcie says:

    Hi Sid,

    My mother has always supported me but she didn’t really take me seriously until I left my job to become a magazine writer. I think the only reason she’s not sweating me too hard is because she sees the work, sweat and tears I’m putting in to make my dreams come true.

    Also, my friends are pretty supportive. They give me ideas and suggestions; send potential clients my way; and let me know that it’s okay to rest.

  12. Mary Rose says:

    Many thanks to Sid for starting this comments thread and to all who are participating! I have learned a lot.

    I write & edit in a small town. Everyone thinks I am perpetually on vacation because I set my own hours. They don’t understand that I work hard when they don’t see me. This is so strange to them that they leave me alone. All alone. I never get invited anywhere because, as one woman told me, “I don’t know when to call you.” (I guess she hasn’t figured out how to leave a phone message.)

    I don’t have any family, so this loneliness is definitely hard on me in many ways.

    But I have taught myself that it is also an advantage. It means I have more time to work, so I succeed more. Plus, as many of you have pointed out, there is a whole world out there accessible by Internet.

    Firepole Marketing, for example, has been a solid support for me. I am so appreciative of the personal touch Sid, Danny, and the others give to this business. A lesson for us all: how can we reach out to other lonely people?

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      Online community is an experiment in its infancy.

      And people may not reach out to you for local community. But if it becomes important to you, you can reach out to them and guide them.

  13. Judith says:

    I’ve been blogging for four years now in a field that should interest my whole family. Only my sister subscribes. She just sent me an idea for a post, so I view that as support. I also have a few cousins who faithfully follow.

    It does strike me as odd in family gatherings when everyone is chatting about their work (most of them are teachers) and there is little interest for the work that consumes my life, even though it IS related. So be it.

    I am the only entrepreneur. Not having a job is hard to understand. Working for free while you build is difficult to understand. Having no safety net or security is difficult to understand. I guess under the circumstances it might seem irresponsible to encourage the foolhardy.

    Consequently, I have to be happy without a spotlight—and I am.

    But my son understands. He doesn’t subscribe, but he accepts. He gave me some real validation. When he was in college, he shared that he was concerned.

    “I phoned a few times. No answer. Where have you been?”

    “Why didn’t you leave a message?”

    “I checked your blog and saw you were still posting. I figured you were all right.”

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      I love the story about your son!

      And I can relate to the other side of your story. My dad owns every book I’ve written. One is even dedicated to him. He hasn’t read one of them.

      Then I realized – even though he has a Ph.D., he doesn’t read books! It’s not about me!

  14. Ann Marie Thomas says:

    Because my first self-published popular history book came out of my recovery after a stroke, everyone is so proud of me and what I have accomplished. I published a second book and am now working on a novel and doing lots of self-promotion.

    I was shocked the other day when my husband said he resented my work because he is my carer and doesn’t have as much time to do his writing. I guess I was being a bit selfish, and I’m doing what I can to help out (which isn’t much due to my disability). But it really hurt and I’ve stopped talking about it to family and friends.

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      Here’s another perspective: Your husband is being beautifully honest and seeking a chance to express himself. I hope the two of you support each other – whatever challenges life brings!

    2. Susan says:

      Ann Marie,

      Congratulations for turning your stroke into something positive. It is also amazing that you are willing to see how your challenges affect not only you, but your husband. As a caregiver myself, I know how incredibly hard it is to always be in the background, doing everything that makes it possible for someone else to go out and live life while you stay home and do the mundane work, chores, errands, etc. Is it at all possible to find respite care for you, so your husband can have some time to pursue his writing? I suspect a willingness on your part to be open to finding ways he can have some more free time would mean a lot to him. Great job on getting your books self-published!

      1. Ann Marie Thomas says:

        Thank you Susan.
        I never thought of respite. I used to get the [grownup] children to come and clean or iron to help out, but hubby didn’t like it. Maybe if I spent the day away he would get a break, even if only psychological.

  15. Hi Sid,

    I’m so blessed because my fiancee Kelli supports me 100%; we both blog from paradise. So I’m set there…as for my parents, they aren’t too keen on my lifestyle.

    We travel all the time, 39 months circling the globe right now, living in Fiji…..and between that, and the fact that we run businesses, at times I feel like they can’t understand. Overall most of my family members support me but 2 folks in particular do not support us, and we know, it’s all about them and has nothing to do with us.

    To have someone in pure opposition to you, especially when you’re helping people, and inspiring others, and doing amazing things, can be frustrating….especially when it’s a mom or dad, or sister or brother.

    At this point, you can be bitter, and angry, or accept it as it is, and meet a crap load of inspiring, positive people, who will lift you up, support you and push you to purify your intent.

    Eventually, you will forget the negative energy from your family, even though you’re likely to carry some anger and/or guilt around…..you’ll be more busy helping, and inspiring folks, versus worrying about people who are unclear in their life choices, and choose to unload their lack of clarity on you.

    Thanks for sharing Sid.

    Tweeting this in a bit.

    All the best.

    Ryan

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      Hi Ryan:

      It sounds like you’ve created a wonderful life for yourself – helping others. That makes me really happy!

  16. anonymous coward says:

    Most of my family members wouldn’t piss on me if I was on fire. If you go through life waiting to be understood by a family that will never love or support you because you don’t have a conventional appearance or a conventional life, you’ll wait a long time. My parents have been angry and resentful of every business I ever had. Evidently I was somehow supposed to magically become beautiful and marry a rich doctor. I’m so done with these people!!! Don’t think you’ll get many honest answers about families if you really expect people to use their real IDs though to post though.

  17. Mike Good says:

    Hey Sid,
    Still plugging along here.
    Although my wife, also an entrepreneur but not that busy, supports what I do, getting her to be proactive in helping me is another thing. I rely on her editing skills but sometimes it’s like pulling teeth. I would also love it if she would do simple things such as “liking” a Facebook posting. When she doesn’t support me in this way, I tend to take it personally but I’m getting over it. It’s not healthy for the relationship.

    So I’m thinking about reaching out to my neighborhood through the Nextdoor Neighbor app to see if anyone is interested in joining me in helping those affected by Alzheimer’s.

    Cheers

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      Why not look worldwide? Maybe find a retiree who, a few years ago, took care of a parent with Alzheimer’s, now passed away, who wants to help others.

      We can all get creative in looking for enthusiastic help.

      1. Mike Good says:

        Agreed, I just don’t know what vehicle to use to find people world wide, other than what I’m already doing.

  18. Marie says:

    I read something once that explained why some people react the way they do when you tell about something you are about to do especially go into a business. People will unconsciously react negatively if it scares them to picture themselves in your place. So…… choose the people carefully that you choose to share your plans and dreams with. Or be prepared not to be discouraged by someone else’s view of the world.

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      That’s a very good point, Marie.

      And it’s related to another one that makes sense to me – People simply don’t want people close to them to make big changes in their lives. As long as we say, “Maybe I do this,” they act like a wet blanket.

      But when we go ahead and do it, some, at least, will turn around and support us.

  19. Janice Gipson says:

    Going it alone, although that’s the way my family works: no one’s against it, though some are forever skeptics and some are at least a cheering squad when I want to talk about it. Since I’ve done everything this way, I just dream of creating a team of supportive partners – from years in the workplace I do know my strengths & weaknesses and have learned to appreciate rather than react to differences. But my core background it: go it alone, it’s your idea.

  20. Carlos says:

    Long thread already. Well, I’m a writer, you can ask me.lol. Well, I must say I’m even about this. I have a wife who tells me that this should better work soon. Because she believes the internet business is a kind of fantasy or something like that. That I should be better working with something where the benefits to the family can be seen immediatelty, if you translate, that is the “security” a regular 15-days paycheck. But she doesn’t say that because she is a harmful person, she believes in the real world and the web scares her. She doesn’t want me to be scammed. She says she is supportive and she encourages me, but from her point of view. So, I’m even, I can’t say I don’t have the support of my family, but I can’t say either that I have it.

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      Carlos, you make a really good point.

      The *intent* to support is great.

      But full support requires that the person giving support has real understanding and feels safe enough to have confidence in you.

  21. When I decided to start my own business close to 2 years ago, my family wasn’t supportive. Quite ironic, because my dad was an entrepreneur and he brought me and my brother up with this mindset: Do well in school so that you can get to land a great job in an awesome company to gain experience and then use that experience to start your own business.

    I have to admit, when he shut me down about starting about my own business, it really was so painful. After all, here was the very same person that brought me up encouraging me to start a business is now shutting me down. Instead of just immediately throwing the towel when he shut me down, I had to really take a closer look about my decision to start my business. I asked myself whether this is really what I wanted to do. Knowing that I’ll be going through challenges along the way, I really had to be honest with myself and make that decision that I’d stay committed to the business I was going to start no matter what.

    Eventually, my family did end up supporting me in my business venture. When my dad shut me down, I was really hurt and felt really alone. Looking back now, I’m actually thankful that he did that because him not giving me the support I was hoping for at that time brought me into a place where I really had to make a decision and become fully resolved that I really wanted to start this business. I now not only have a really thriving business. I’ve also grown up and became a better person in the process.

      1. Thanks, Sid!

        Yup. Starting a business with or without people supporting you is tough. Of course, it’s tougher if people don’t. I’ve not really say I’ve arrived. But from where I am now, those tough weeks and months were definitely soooo worth it.

        1. Jeff Davis says:

          Adeline, what you did is the perfect representation of the following truth: there is a hidden opportunity in every setback. You used the discouragement to reexamine your situation and become even stronger and more focused. Well done!

          1. Adeline says:

            Thanks Jeff!

            You’re right! There is always a hidden opportunity in every setback. It’s really up to each of us on whether we’re willing to see past the hurt and the frustration in any challenge or situation, right?

          2. Jeff says:

            Yes, you hit the nail on the head. It’s really a choice whether someone wants to see the benefit in a given situation. Easier said than done a lot of the times, but still definitely a choice. I find that whenever I choose not to act on my hurt and frustration in the moment I’m almost always better off in the long-run.

  22. I have been freelancing for nearly 20 years now, and if you had asked me a month ago if my friends and family “got” what I did and supported me, I would have said enthusiastically “YES!”

    Then in July a long-term contract ended unexpectedly, and after a period of mourning, I started looking around for new projects and contracts. And nearly every “real life” friend asked me for my resume and acted shocked when I said I was looking for contract freelance work, not a corporate job.

    Like Razwanna, the only people who were not upset with my decision were the many friends I made online. Some of whom I”ve never met in person, but they have all come through with contracts, ideas, and support.

    I think finding your “tribe” is important. And if most/all of your “real life” friends and family are still working in corporate jobs for 80 hours a week (to make sure their bosses see them at least 40) then they aren’t going to understand why you might choose to forgo that. I somewhat dread talking to the well-meaning friends who don’t understand why I never sent them my resume so they could give it to their corporate recruiter.

    Luckily my husband supports me in these efforts. I don’t know if he believes I’ll be solvent in a month or two, which I do believe, but he’s willing to let me try. He’s looking for a job in the meantime. So right now it’s a race for me to see if I can pull together enough entrepreneurial and freelance jobs that he doesn’t have to and can continue to do what he loves to do too.

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      Thanks for sharing your truth from a tough situation. I’m glad that you and your husband are a team, and that you have found your tribe.

      May we all do so well!

  23. zeneka says:

    Hi Sid,

    I’m a brand new newbie to the online writing world. I’m looking to start an online freelance writing business. I’m definitely alone in this venture. I was recently let go from my full-time job so what was once a far away dream is now a great possibility. My best friend responded and I quote ” and I wish I had a million bucks ” when I told him I would love to make my own hours and work online. My family also kind of looks away whenever I mention writing like someone mentioned above.
    I’m more of a loner anyway so I didn’t once consider this lack of support being detrimental but I remember feeling uneasy at everyone’s disapproval.
    I’m still having a hard time believing myself that I could actually do this. I haven’t committed to the idea because I fear the possibility of failure. Any advice on how to be your own support system?

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      Zeneka – the best advice I can think of is over 2,500 years old, from a guy named the Buddha. He said “Today is the most important day of your life, because it is the first day of the rest of your life.”

      He also taught people to be true to themselves no matter what anyone else said.

      For those of us who choose to be entrepreneurs, that is the best say I know to be our own support system. Focus on what you can do today to build your future. And know that the past, and the opinions of others, say nothing about the capacity within you to create your business and make a difference.

  24. Susan says:

    Simply because the entrepreneur gene is so rare, we tend to be the only one in our family or circle of friends who gets infected with it. The nature of entrepreneurship is to at least start off alone. We have to search out collaborators and it is vital we do. When the people around us don’t get it, they naturally aren’t enthusiastic and that can bring doubt in to our minds because it plays to our own fears. Networking with other like-minded people can bring fresh determination and enthusiasm. When I started ABM I was also caring for my elderly parents (and homeschooling my son, and going back to school, and a bunch of other stuff!) While they were nominally supportive, they didn’t take it seriously and could not understand why I couldn’t just drop everything and be available in the moment to do whatever they thought needed doing. After all, I was just “sitting around at the computer” surely I must not be all that busy! It has been really, really hard to lovingly meet their needs and still pursue a business. Just last week they moved to an adult living community and later this month we are moving to a quiet, peaceful, 4 acre property in the country where I can work uninterrupted! A fresh start is coming and I am so very ready for it.

  25. Hi Sid
    I’m definitely supported by a lot of people, not all, mind you, but a lot. And it makes a difference. I can talk about my writing in conversations and people don’t look away. In fact, now that I’m about to publish my second novel, most of them seem pretty proud. I have one brother-in-law who for a whole year after my first book was published always greeted me with “How’s the famous author?” and a huge lovely smile. He was and is very proud of me.
    What I’ve learned is that some family members–thankfully very few–are uncomfortable or intimidated when others have success. One of ours came for a visit for a week last year. My book display was prominent in our condo because people were dropping in to buy copies, yet this person never once mentioned it at all. Pretty hurtful because publishing has been a personal achievement. Other than that we all had a great visit but isn’t it strange to experience these things?
    I have no answer to this problem other than to focus on all the positive things that happen. People are different. Some love to read, some hate it, some love math, others hate it, and some understand the writing challenge while others just don’t get it. And that’s all okay. Successful people learn to set their own criteria for happiness and don’t let others do that for them. They turn the arrows aside.
    And now, because I can and have chosen to do so, I’m off to work on the final revisions of book two, coming out in October. Carpe diem!

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      Elaine, you write about this challenge well.

      My answers to the problem are enjoying doing the work (writing or whatever else we do) itself, and turning to be with and to help those who find what I do valuable.

      And I’m still learning …

  26. Stefano says:

    I’ve always wanted to be an online entrepreneur, since I was a teenager. When I talked about it with my parents, they didn’t understand (in my country, selling online is still in its infancy). So I kept it a secret for 3 years, when I started making enough money to replace my daily job.

    Now they support me.

    Since then, when someone makes fun of me for being a professional blogger, I just tell them my income.

  27. Mary says:

    Business Philosophy 101

    There is a “thing” about “alone” that many people miss. Unless you are a genius business hermit (someone who invents, patents, sells–all in the relative isolation of cyberspace), you have a circle of other people around you with whom you interact.

    But, everyone is alone!

    Your partnership reality is your PERCEPTION of it, so you have the power to make it what it is, or what it could be. The way to accept that power is to first see yourself as alone and unique in your thoughts, dreams, goals, inspirations, intentions, wishes, desires and actions. Next, see all those things floating around you in a lovely field of energy from which you can pick items, play with them, move them forward, take actions.

    Then notice who witnesses you, reach out to them via communication in some form and be grateful. Keep doing what you’re doing, watching the results, and be willing to modify, change or keep doing it.

    This is a great exercise for stretching your WHO I AM muscles (which are in the brain of your heart and the heart of your brain). When those muscles are strong, all the juxtapositions, interactions and transactions you’ll have in business or in other scenarios will create memories that line up for you like a string of pearls, a row of bills, columns in a spreadsheet, a database of emails or footsteps in the sand.

    The main thing is to keep exploring and sharing–like Columbus–the good and the bad and the everything in between!

    1. Heléna Kurçab says:

      Great stuff Mary. I’m with you. After trying to, what I call, “Live other people’s stories” (the subject for one of my “Ramblings” posted below) for most of my life, I finally broke free and love just being me and using the gifts I have to help others. Interesting how the gifts we have can be the very things that we are criticised for, by those who want us to fit into ‘their story.’ What a relief when you embrace those gifts and use them to live your own story. It is then that you discover you are not alone, because people who ‘get you’, come from everywhere. 🙂

      The Power of the Story

      Stories’ are the wheel that turns the marketing world, creating business success or business failure. Marketers are well aware of this power to influence the buying habits of the masses. However, ´stories’ , (our own and those of others), also influence our personal lives in ways just as subtle as those used by the marketing gurus. We live our lives through these ‘stories’. They guide every action and decision we make.

      What are these stories that have such influence on us? They are the ‘story’ we have about ourselves, the ‘story’ we have about others, and the ‘story’ they have about us.

      Do you sometimes find it difficult to live out your own ‘story’ because it is contrary to what others want? Do you find yourself constantly doing things to please others (though never pleasing them anyway) because this is what they have become accustomed (habit) to you doing? Does this bring you frustration? Why do you continue doing it and ‘hoping’ for a different result? Could it be you have formed the habit of trying to fit yourself into someone else’s ‘story’, and the short-term pain of changing the habit is keeping you from the long-term freedom of doing so?

      Subconsciously, everyone works hard to fit the world into their own ‘story.’ After all, their ‘story’ is their habit of seeing the world, and we know that habit is strong. Anything else feels uncomfortable, and out of control. If anyone dares to act differently to their ‘story’, they immediately react by picking up the page that has fallen out of the book and try to make it fit back in again, pressing, folding, squeezing, (ouch) doing anything necessary to make the page(us) fit back in, so that their book (story) can be whole again….for themselves.

      This does not mean selfishness, on their part. It does not necessarily mean they don’t care about us. It is simply panic at the uncomfortableness of change and the innate survival mechanism of trying to keep their ‘story’ intact.

      What can we do? Logically, trying to fit into their box (story) while at the same time trying to grow and live our own story is as impossible as expecting an oak tree (roble) to reach its potential height, growing in a bonsai pot. We have to make a choice between one of the following:

      1. We can choose to allow ourselves to keep feeling squeezed, sad and misunderstood forever as a bonsai, living out someone else’s story while we expend huge amounts of energy, trying to make them understand who we ‘be’ in our ‘story’. N.B. No amount of explanation will enable them to see us as we see ourselves to ‘be’ while we keep ‘being’ the person they want us to ‘be’. (You may have to read that sentence again.) 🙂

      2. We can choose to live our own story by ‘being’ ourself, the best self we can ‘be’, and make decisions in accordance with our own ‘story’, regardless of how scary and uncomfortable that is, both for us and those who are accustomed (habit) to us living out their ‘story’).

      The second is the only way that we can live out our purpose, and (over the long-term) give the most value to the world and to those we love.

      So, what is your story? Are you living it? Are you growing into the oak tree you dream of becoming.., seeking out ways to contribute your unique valuable shade to the world……, or…….are you allowing yourself to be bound like a bonsái…, trapped in someone else’s story?

      Copyright The English Coach April 2014

    2. Sid Kemp says:

      Spot on! Mary.

      The simultaneous experience of being alone and being engaged is fascinating and nourishing for me.

  28. Leslie Clary says:

    I’m in it alone. In fact, I think only one other person even knows I’m in the ABM. However, these days I’m okay with it. I’ve always wished for someone to collaborate with, but there’s never been anyone close in my life remotely interested. My “partner/friend” paints houses, doesn’t use email and can’t figure out how to delete messages from his phone! So he doesn’t understand what I do, but nevertheless, he’s always supportive and encouraging, so in that sense I’m not really alone. When I quit my newspaper job a little over a year ago to freelance (and then start the ABM), I had to distance myself a bit from acquaintances because they were practically rooting for me to fail and end up back at my $12 an hour reporting job. In that instance, I’m happy to say they were definitely wrong! Whether I succeed with my own business remains to be seen.

    1. Sid Kemp says:

      Leslie, it sounds like you’re in a tough transition. It’s a bummer when people root for your failure just to keep you where they are (stuck!!!). But you are making your way, day by day.

      And I’m glad your partner is encouraging. He may not understand “online,” but it sounds like he gets “entrepreneur”!

  29. Razwana ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    When it comes to friends and family, I’m definitely in it alone. Most of them don’t understand having a business that’s purely online, and they don’t ‘get’ what a copywriter does …. I’m constantly explaining.

    But the friends I’ve made online get it completely. So I don’t feel very alone.

    It’s tough when there’s something broken on my website, I’m in a complete tizz about fixing it, and my family want to stop everything to have dinner. But then I get to work when I want to work, and they love that too 🙂

    1. Stefano says:

      Ha, don’t get me started on this Razwana… Here in Italy, even “blogger” doesn’t mean anything, let alone “copywriter”. When people ask what’s my job, I just say I’m a writer.

        1. Stefano says:

          When they ask what kind of books I write, I answer “training manuals and how-to guides”. This is where I sometimes spot disappointment. Then I say I self-publish because it’s far more profitable. Sometimes I even say I do it online. It sounds complicated, but it’s better than saying copywriter or blogger.

    2. Sid Kemp says:

      Hi Razwana

      🙂 Count your blessings! It sounds like your family doesn’t understand, but they aren’t hostile to your efforts. And they share in your success and you have online friends.

      It’s hard, but I think you can achieve work-life balance and success.

      1. Chris says:

        “they aren’t hostile to your efforts” perfect.description.ever! That is pretty much my family and some friends.

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