Evaluating Business Ideas

Why Your Mother's Opinion of Your Business is Valueless

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

Ever since you first brought home that handmade Mother's Day card from kindergarten your mother has cooed like an ecstatic pigeon about everything you've ever made or created. Is she cooing about your business now? More importantly, should you trust her judgment?

Ah. How sentiment can blind good sense.

Your mother's probably a wonderful woman, a woman who has supported you all your life. She's been enthusiastic about your first crayoned creations and those misshapen abstract looking globules of clay you claimed were:

  • a giraffe that's had a cold
  • the baby Jesus on Wednesday
  • Auntie Ruthie in that green hat she wore at Christmas

Of course your mom loved everything you did when you were a child. And lucky you that she was so enthused about your abilities. However, that was then, this is now and it may be time for the cooing to stop. This is especially important if you are running a business idea by your mom. And if you are, don't expect her to be able to give you any really worthwhile advice.

Unless she herself is an entrepreneur with sound business acumen and a feel for commercial viability then it's probably wise to avoid asking her opinion at all. The truth is that even though you are no longer in kindergarten, you're married with the obligatory 2-point-whatever children, and you own your home and do all kinds of 'grown up' things, she still sees you as her precious little one.

When you endeavor to set up your own company, mom is as excited as when you slept through the night, cut a tooth or took your first steps. Milestones one and all. The new business idea is yet another. You can almost hear mom crowing now, "Oh look s/he's setting up a company!"

She's proud of all that you do and even if she secretly thought your idea for shipping ice to the Inuit community was likely to fail, she wouldn't tell you that. Why? Because she doesn't want to hurt your feelings. Doing so would go against all that is ingrained in her psyche about being a mother. Oh dear.

In terms of practicality it would be far more useful if mom were able to be honest if she had genuine concerns about your business's viability. It would be even better if she weren't so biased and could form a realistic opinion. Problem is, she can't.

So what's the solution?

You can't change the way that love influences your mother's opinions, but you can take her opinions with a pinch of salt.

The message here?

Seek advice from someone who won't worry about hurting your feelings or pointing out pitfalls. An independent business advisor won't be emotionally involved with you and will therefore be better able to give an objective opinion.

That really has value. While mom's love is there to help cushion any blows that come from setting up a business, the unbiased opinion of an advisor will help to ensure that the blows are minimal or non-existent.

While we've focused on the stereotypical mother's propensity to applaud all you do don't overlook other biased parties like:

  • Besotted girlfriends or boyfriends
  • People who are angling romantically for you
  • Fathers
  • Daughters
  • Sons
  • Friends

Basically, anyone who loves you should be avoided!

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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