what does your family think?

Having invested time, effort and money, changing the direction of your business despite vague prospects is undoubtedly a tough call to make. With all this happening, ever stopped to think what the families of the entrepreneurs think?

Life is beautiful because we all dream of a better tomorrow. No matter how much we complain we always set our minds to achieve goals that we define for ourselves. But our dreams also value opinions other than our own; opinions that sometimes might check our progress toward success. Yet there’s a deep urge to ask these people things to confide in them, to ask for a kind word. Who are these people? Our families of course, through whom we learn to conceive our dreams and believe in their beauty – the people who taught us to live, and also the ones who feel it necessary to protect us from life.

In Nepalese society, where families are usually very close-knit, there is usually no question of “It’s my life – let me do it my way”. Even if there is, we always look to these people for support. Much has changed; case in point the emphasis of Jayasthiti Malla on job distribution according to castes. Forget a Chitrakar man only drawing or a Shilpakar only sculpting; people are moving away from medicine and commerce to careers in teaching, art, film-making, journalism and entrepreneurship. The division of labor slowly ebbing away at conventional ways is making way for a new belief – anyone can start from zero. Entrepreneur culture is here to stay.

Our families would want us to be stable but for an entrepreneur, his path is strewn with risks, resolving which he pursues success. Still, what families and partners think matters quite a bit – and entrepreneurs keep trying to convince their loves ones. Bal Krishna Joshi, the entrepreneur behind Thamel.com, a pioneering e-commerce website established in 1999, was already exploring potential web-based ideas when people were still figuring out the web in Nepal. An unknown area that had seen no action yet in Nepal, an online business was a big question to everyone including Joshi’s family. “Ke ho! ke ho? ”(What is it?) was what Mr Joshi’s family had to say when he chose e-commerce as his choice of work. An entrepreneurial venture always has its risks; when it involves a new line of work, the risk only increases.

“What are you doing selling a khasi on the Internet?” was a question that Mr Joshi heard a lot. He explains how even till last year he was dueling with his family about his business. He is convinced that people who have different ideas toward business will be alone. But as he elaborates about his struggle, Mr Joshi seems content with all he has faced – he has no regrets. “My business is doing fine and I am happy that I had to struggle to make it till here today,” he says. Smiling, he adds, “My family, although still vague about what I do, is gradually learning to support me.” Thamel.com gained popularity through its Mother’s Day and Dashain khasi offers, and today it is a very successful e-commerce site with a clear vision on how to use technology to improve the lives of Nepalis.

Amun Thapa, Co-founder of Sasto Deal, an online discount store is quite spirited about his chosen line of work. Coming from a modern family, Mr Thapa got full support from them when it was time to start his venture. Seeing opportunity here, he started Sasto Deal to bridge the gap between dealers and customers. Describing him as a workaholic, Upasna Rana, his sister-in-law says, “We were just worried that it may not work out as he believes in it the following year itself but we were always supportive.” She further adds, “He always had a vision to do something and we always knew he was capable of doing what he wanted. Now he makes us feel guilty when we stay idle!” Amun is also the Marketing Production, a social enterprise founded by his mother, so he understands the complexities related to working with family.

“Our families have more experience than us, so listening to what they have to say won’t hurt,” says Mr Thapa about most Nepali families not being comfortable with risk. “Disagreeing doesn’t mean we have to fight back. We just need to buckle up and prove them wrong,” says Mr Thapa confidently.

On what not to do at home, Mr Thapa says, “It’s easy to pour out our problems but then our family members, such as our mothers might start worrying about it. Unless absolutely necessary, we should keep our work issues to ourselves.” He realizes that there are others like him who crave for support but don’t get much of it. About this he suggests explaining one’s plans rather than just an idea to the family. “Make a power-point if you need!” he says, laughing. Aware of his responsibilities, Mr Thapa understands that families are only on patrol to keep their children safe. “There are a two ways to a conversation you know, you can’t expect people to understand without you explaining things to them,” he says. Sasto Deal’s success today has no doubt pacified most concerns that Mr Thapa’s family might have had. Already, on average, Sasto Deal gets more than 25 orders per day.

Sudhir Manandhar, an entrepreneur who runs his own sandwich station, Boston Substation, in New Road is new to business. In his days in the US, Mr Manandhar worked for three years at different sandwich shops. Upon arriving in Nepal, he started planning his own business venture. When he shared his plans with his family, they pretty much told him, “Do what you want to, we are with you”. With that he was able to turn his dreams into a reality just two months back. “Service wasn’t enough; the business needed to be sustainable. But this was something that he convinced us with, what we opposed was if he could manage his new life with his new business and a newly wedded wife with whom who needs to spend time,” says Mr Manandhar’s father, Sadhu Ram Manandhar.

Manandhar agrees that his family’s protectiveness can sometimes affect work. He is okay with the occasional suggestion from his family. “I know they don’t want me to fail – so for now I am doing it with a low investment, with low risk,” he says. “Sometimes when I have other work, my parents stay in the shop to help me out,” says Manandhar with much gratitude towards his family. According to him, family opinions can work to an entrepreneur’s benefit. He also believes we should learn to convince our parents. It can prove to be good training to assure people who are unknown to us later in work. Sadhu Ram Manandhar shares how they have family meetings to guide Mr Manandhar with his venture by making him feel in control of his business. “We listen to him because it’s his business – and it’s his decision that will set things in place – we just feel the necessity of reminding him of that time to time.”

Entrepreneurs dream ambitiously but also wish their families would believe in their ventures as much as they do. Their defined ‘greatness’ feels the necessity to address their family’s blessings because the confidence of weaving something worthy is inspired by their own family who nurtured them to believe in the beauty of their dreams.

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