Christmas is time for the family. After exchanging warm embraces and greetings, your big family sits over dinner and talks about the year’s major events. Since you have just graduated from university, Aunt May turns toward you and starts grilling you on your plans for the future.
You begin to sweat. Because you just rejected a tempting job offer from a multinational bank …
To build your own startup.
Stereotypical Asian parents tend to have a certain expectation for their children’s careers. Some expect them to be doctors; some expect them to be lawyers.
Some send their kids to study computer engineering with the hope that they will take the tried-and-true path of corporation by working in Microsoft. Little did they know that their child is aiming for the long and winding road of building the next Microsoft.
Check out e27’s advice for fresh graduates planning to come out to their parents about their career choice.
Step 1: Time the talk
Different parents deal with shock in their own unique ways. The key here is to understand how yours might react.
If you believe that they will be able to stay calm and collected, then sit with them over dinner and explain your goals calmly and thoroughly.
But if yours are more of the explosive type, do it when there is no chance for them to scream at you. For example, Mom has friends over and they are chatting in the living room.
You can casually walk past and tell her, “I would like to tell you something. I’ve rejected that job offer.”
Then run as far as you can while the news sinks in. Hopefully, by the time you actually talk, she will be able to deal with the shock as she has taken time to digest it.
Step 2: Explain, then listen
You finally get to talk to them. When explaining the type of business that you are doing, keep your explanation well-structured and well-researched.
Keep in mind that your parents come from a different generation, thus may not understand why people nowadays like to take pictures of themselves or, for that matter, choose not to work at a large conglomerate. Avoid making assumptions. Be very clear with terms and trends they may not recognise.
Last, but not least, listen to their reply. We hate to break it to you, but some of their concerns may actually be real, such as how are you going to support yourself with such a small income? You cannot buy a bowl of rice by trading them with your Pokemon card collection.
Step 3: Take baby steps
Another key point that you need to remember when explaining your goals: Don’t boast.
Don’t tell them that you are quitting your job to become the next Elon Musk when you are still figuring out how to deal with a bug on your new app.
Keep everything simple and down to earth. It may not be wise to talk about the next 10 years or what you’ll do when you get your Series B; focus on how you want to run this business to survive its first years.
It is easier to believe in a person who has realistic goals and expectations.
Step 4: Make Plan B, C, D …
Even the greatest unicorns fall off the cliff. Let your parents to know that you are aware of the risks, and that you are prepared for them.
Make a Plan B and explain it to your parents. It will be better if you can set a deadline with them. For example: If the startup is going nowhere in two years, then you are going to search for corporate jobs.
It will actually inspire you to work harder, since you know that your parents are now watching your back.
Step 5: Get them involved
If words fail to convince them, then win them over with actions. Show them the prototype of your mobile app, or even better, take them to the co-working space you have been working in. Allow them to see for themselves that you are doing real work here.
(Make sure you don’t bring them in when your partner is snoozing in the bean bag corner, though.)
Let them see how you work and ask for their comments. Oh, you know how parents are a always a bit shy when it comes to giving advice.
Step 6: Show results
If actions fail, then the only way left to convince them is through results. This may take a while, but it is the most solid way to get them to believe in you.
When Touchten was first founded, Anton Soeharyo recalled being yelled at by his mother for ‘spending days sitting in front of the computer and not getting a real job’.
He then showed her his bank account, which was filled with the money earned from developing games. That is how he managed to convince his mom that game developing is a real job with decent prospects.
When you have your own office in a building, when everybody in town is using your startup’s product, when your startup lands on e27 … that is how you –- and your parents — will know you have made it.
Keep on working towards that.
Image Credit: picjumbo