Utilising family and friends

The third part of this series on the support structure is friends and family. We discuss why this group is an important stakeholder for your new venture and how their viewpoint differs from co-founder and mentors.

One crude way of looking at family is they’re most likely to support you financially in the beginning. Harsh but true. A lot of new startups fail due to lack of money for the founder to live on for 6 months/year. Convince them of your dream and you may just pull through on enough to survive. They’ll also likely to provide you with moral support when you hit the inevitable low points during your journey. I can imagine the emotional rollercoaster can be one hell of a ride over the course of the first few years.

But family can have some ‘downsides’. They may invest in you, but what if you are not successful and thus cannot pay back the money loaned to you? I’d be very clear upfront and also mitigate this by offering a generous stake in your startup. Try and keep it as much about business as possible and you shouldn’t end up souring some family ties.

One area your family is unlikely to be useful is giving you a bit of harsh reality when you need it. They are not experts in your field of interest (exceptions of course exist). I have found good friends to be the best place for this. They may not be experts but he/she (if they’re good), can probe and challenge you. I’ve found it a great way to test new ideas as well as giving a genuine outside view. If a friend has shown some interest in what you are doing that is an added bonus as well as they are essentially part of your startup journey. A mentor or co-founder is probably a bit too invested to give a true additional view. As with a mentor, probably not the best to get too many inputs/thoughts.

One thing I would say is don’t be afraid to get detailed including detailing any problems that may occur financially. I am very much in favour of openness versus only giving partial details. Your friends/family cannot give a proper opinion if they lack all the information!

This has been a bit shorter article as a lot of the aspects such as personality etc. is a consistent theme for your support structure. I’d like to think all the groups combined give a good overview of the health of your startup at any snapshot in time. That can only be a good thing. There is another group of people that you may encounter can enable success and on Monday I’ll discuss my own interactions with them.



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