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To feel worried for my friend who is leaving her good job to "become an entrepreneur"?

(33 Posts)
Evelight Fri 14-Apr-17 17:41:16

She is one of my closest friend- we have known each other for several yrs, supported each other through a lot etc.

She is well educated in her field.
She has a good job which was her "dream job" when she first got it. However over the past few months she has been telling me it has become really toxic workplace- some instances of classic workplace bullying ad sexism (yeah yeah, female in highly male dominated industry yada yada), to the extent she wanted to complain to the Human Rights Commission in our area etc. She has also been looking around for other jobs, but we live in a small city where specialized jobs are hard to come by.

She is quite good at what she does (I understand- it's not my field and I know nothing about it)- but she raised some impressive grants and funds.

I am wondering if that success has gone to her head? She now says she is definitely not renewing her contract- and this is where the tricky part comes in- she seems to not have a real concrete plan beyond saying "entrepreneur" a lot.

I told her the bit about 'easier to find a job when you have a job" etc. I don't want to depress her or alienate her by recounting statistics of failed small businesses, or pointing out that most successful entrepreneurs usually have really strong family connections and capital, which she doesn't. I know we all buy into this myth of "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps"- just recently we were watching this show on Netflix about how the single mom -college dropout- after 20 years of being a SAHM suddenly becomes a "green energy consultant" and launches and runs her own consultancy- I mean come on!!!

She does not have any family support and has a bunch of student loans.

Honestly though, her plans aren't even that clear! last night she was telling me she was talking about setting up an eco-travel-adventure agency - I mean I don't know business and eco travel tavel adventure- but it can't be that easy! Especially in a poorish, non-central small city! Especially when you don't have capital! And no experience of the travel business! Again, I didn't want to turn her off or sound unsupportive, so I just nodded my head while thinking "nooooo- please don't give up your job!"

Anyway, I can't see I can do much- WWYD/ or say? If anything?

Dogivemeabreak Fri 14-Apr-17 17:45:02

Her life, her business.

Evelight Fri 14-Apr-17 17:49:55

"Her life, her business."

Well yeah, obviously. I just feel concerned that it may not be a wise decision, and wondering whether there is any way of raising concerns without sounding unsupportive, or as if i think she should stay (rather, suffer) in a workplace where she is clearly unhappy or? She's not a stranger, as I said it's a close friend who has been very supportive of me through various life challenges - I can't just shrug and say meh- her life, her business- even though practically, yes I guess that is what will happen.

cordeliavorkosigan Fri 14-Apr-17 17:51:38

If she's your close friend, say something; try to be gentle about it, but if it were me I'd want my close friends to ask some questions.
It may be that it's a fantasy and she will ultimately renew the contract - it can be useful to feel like there are options especially as it sounds pretty terrible at her work.
I'm in a male-dominated field too. I don't know that industry and entrepreneurship are more welcoming to women than technical/academic work, really. But yes success surely requires a solid idea, a business plan, some investment and very very hard work. Maybe sit down with her to watch some Dragon's Den? could be a fun and light way to explore entrepreneurship and give her a sense that it's hard actually.

daisygirlmac Fri 14-Apr-17 17:53:19

If it was one of my really close friends I'd just say how worried I was. "Dfriend, you're fantastic and you know how much I love you but I'm really worried about this decision! Tell me to bugger off if you like but I just don't want you to end up in a bad situation. Is there anything I can help with re business plan/finance/budgeting for when you finish your contract?"

If she doesn't want help and doesn't want to discuss it further then fair enough, leave it be.

Letmesleepalready Fri 14-Apr-17 17:54:15

She might have been working on it for some time, and you have said you don't know her field. She might have contacts that can help her too.

Frouby Fri 14-Apr-17 17:55:04

Ask her if she could take a sabbatical rather than leave. As a plan b.

wasonthelist Fri 14-Apr-17 17:55:32

If it was my friend I might offer my view (misgivings as you outline) BUT also I'd feel obliged to be a friend to her whatever she does.

She might just confound you and be a roaring success.

If it fails she will need friends for support (and not to say I told you so).

IMHO.

Launderetta Fri 14-Apr-17 17:56:02

^^ Exactly what daisy said.

OllyBJolly Fri 14-Apr-17 18:00:52

Brewdog was started by some penniless youngsters in a not very nice town in a remote part of Scotland. (Sorry, Broch folks!)

The biggest issue for startups is winning customers. If she's a successful fundraiser then she has a track record there. I started my business with nothing - only debt. I've not made a million but I'm comfortable and happier than I'd ever be working for someone else.

And if it fails, so what? She learns and moves on. Most successful entrepreneurs fail at some point.

Bunkai Fri 14-Apr-17 18:09:20

My friend did similar. It took her going on 10 years, lots of hard work, stress and tweaking the original concept. But in the last couple of years it's started to pay off as she's won a shitload of awards and has been invited to a royal garden party. Ask what support she needs from you. That may help her clarify what she needs to tackle first.

Evelight Fri 14-Apr-17 18:24:19

Thanks for the suggestions- i really like "ask what support she needs from you", because tbh whenever she starts talking about this, I just know my face starts looking really worried, even though I do make the supportive noises, and I guess that can get really annoying.

She is a successful fundraiser- and that is what is pushing her to strike out on her own. But I can't help think it is easier to raise funds when you're part of a known established organization in that field, rather than an unknown person. I think she may be underestimating the power of the "brands" she is fundraising for.

And yes, for sure she may become successful! At the very least, she will be successful in not having to deal with unpleasant colleagues everyday!

bluebelltippytoes Fri 14-Apr-17 18:24:45

Perhaps she will succeed perhaps she will fail. She has absolutely no idea until she tries but if she is good at securing funding then she may just have the balls to make it work.

You've already said her work environment is toxic and sexist. Is that preferable? Stop judging her and give her a chance.

TheStoic Fri 14-Apr-17 18:26:44

She's an adult, and can make her own decisions.

I hope she's got some cheerleaders on her side.

Bluntness100 Fri 14-Apr-17 18:31:29

Could it be they are not renewing her contract and she is spinning it to save face.?

ImperialBlether Fri 14-Apr-17 18:34:04

Tell her to complete a business plan. That's usually a sobering process! Samples can be found online.

I think you're right - fundraising when you work for a long-established large organisation is completely different from fundraising on your own.

Evelight Fri 14-Apr-17 18:34:28

"I hope she's got some cheerleaders on her side."

Well, as I said in my op, I sometimes feel our general social culture "cheerleads" individualism/the entreprenureal spirit/ so I feel- may be some of them general valorization we have for "striking out on your own" and "going your own way" can cloud our judgments and push us into not-so-wise decisions.

Of course this doesn't mean she will fail! or succeed! And if she really did have a solid business plan I would not feel worried- but the eco-travel-adventure had me cringing, as my teenage DD would say.

Evelight Fri 14-Apr-17 18:36:20

"Tell her to complete a business plan. That's usually a sobering process!"

Another great suggestion. Will absolutely do that. Thanks.

i did think about the contract- from what i can gather- she gets quite emotional describing it and I don't like to press, but it seems to be a mutual decision that this workplace is not working for her.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Fri 14-Apr-17 18:40:24

I work with entrepreneurs a fair bit. She can fund raise. That's fantastic. It means she knows how to make a case amongst other things.

Unless she is planning to mortgage her house on day one to pay for it then the worst that can happen is that it doesn't work out and she gets a job.

Really it is just a badly paid job if it fails.

Laugh about how risk averse you are and could never do it. Ask her how one goes about setting up a company. Listen and chat. This could be fun.

TheStoic Fri 14-Apr-17 18:50:50

Well, as I said in my op, I sometimes feel our general social culture "cheerleads" individualism/the entreprenureal spirit/ so I feel- may be some of them general valorization we have for "striking out on your own" and "going your own way" can cloud our judgments and push us into not-so-wise decisions.

So?

Better to have tried and failed, than to die wondering.

Although I suspect you are the cautious type that would prefer to die wondering. That's ok, but it's not what your friend needs right now.

alfagirl73 Fri 14-Apr-17 19:35:56

I'll be honest, and this may sound blunt, but you sound rather like you don't want her to succeed because you wouldn't have the guts to do it yourself. In fact, you don't sound like you have much respect for her at all - you mock her complaints about her work environment etc.

Going into business for yourself takes a lot of guts, and I have nothing but admiration for anyone who does it. Most people plod through life doing jobs that they pretend they like when actually, they hate it and would much rather be their own boss... but very very few have the guts to make that happen. Most people just carry on complaining about things rather than doing anything about it.

You say yourself that you don't understand her job... instead of laughing at her goals, be supportive. Don't be dumping all your own fears on her - those aren't fears for her, it's you thinking "I could never do this!". If she has the guts, drive and savvy to go for it, then good for her! You are clearly someone who doesn't like to take risks in life and looks for all the obstacles rather than looking for ways around them. That is fine, but it doesn't mean other people don't have the right to take risks and make things happen for themselves.

My partner is his own boss; I know full well what goes into building your own business... and despite having my own successful career as a professional I admit to being totally jealous of him at times because he's doing what he loves and doesn't have to deal with all the corporate bullshit and politics that I have to put up with. He has to work a lot of long hours - more than I do - but ultimately, he's his own boss and I have nothing but admiration and respect for him in doing that. I wish I had the guts to do what he's done... but I wouldn't turn that on him. I support him 100%; when things aren't going well, I give him all the support I can, and when things go well, I celebrate those successes with him. He is not someone who can work for other people and I wouldn't dream of asking him to.

Give your friend support... and if you can't, then the least you can do is not pour all your own fears and negativity on her. You say you are concerned about her but your post doesn't come across that way - you sound jealous and scared that she actually might just make a massive success of it. It's her life, her career, her business and if she has an opportunity to build something that she will be happy doing, then why shouldn't she go for it? I wish her all the luck in the world.

farfarawayfromhome Fri 14-Apr-17 19:44:33

she has been telling me it has become really toxic workplace- some instances of classic workplace bullying ad sexism (yeah yeah, female in highly male dominated industry yada yada

Very much revealing your true colours here OP. And they are not very pleasant.

velourvoyageur Fri 14-Apr-17 19:54:34

I think it would be good to say something.

I take a lot of notice of what other people tell me. I'm not someone who can see all perspectives with absolute clarity without any help from anyone else (who is?). Quite often what someone has said in the past has swayed my decision and I really needed that voice of reason. Can't pretend to have all the answers. She might be quite open to what you have to say.

She can very easily consider it, dismiss it, and continue to invest in the friendship as in the past. Doesn't have to be a drama...

witsender Fri 14-Apr-17 19:58:42

You don't sound like you hold her in much esteem to be honest, your posts reek of thinking her flighty. She is clearly pretty bright and well thought of, why do you patronise her? Why disbelieve her complaints about her workplace?

velourvoyageur Fri 14-Apr-17 19:59:26

Better to have tried and failed, than to die wondering.

Really?
When failing means wiping out your savings, self esteem, wasting a few years of earning potential & possibly discrediting your professional reputation alongside?
Why is it better to fail and know that it's impossible? You can have a whole life happening at the same time as 'wondering'. Every choice you make can produce some uncertainties and regrets, but doesn't everyone die with those? Thus is the nature of choices - you close doors (e.g. in this case, risk in starting a new business) in order to open others (e.g. financial security and the happiness that comes with that)!

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