Figuring out how to deal with family drama sucks. This is what I look like after airing the family laundry. It's not fun. And in most cases, it can be annoying.
I define family drama as unnecessary rumors, hearsay, judgements and annoyances that have somehow trickled all the way down to your significant other or someone close to you that may require attention. This is as opposed to actual drama where serious life and death situations have arised and decisions need to be made quickly.
From a business standpoint, relationships between family and business can be crucial, not everything will work like the way you see it on your favorite episode of The Profit. That's just the unfortunate reality of some situations. This can be tricky when an issue happens between two family members. You need to be hopeful but you have to understand that you cannot force people to cross any bridge you make - no matter how much you've beautified it.
Some have good reasons for not crossing, while others do not.
Other family drama could be between you and your siblings. It could be between you and one of your parents (maybe both). Perhaps it's the in-laws. Maybe you've found yourself in the middle. Irregardless, it's a distraction but you can't help but feel you have to jump in to fix things.
But where do you draw the line between building bridges and leaving things alone to work on the business?
1. Start with buy-in from your significant other
If you're not married or don't have kids, go to the next question. Girlfriends and boyfriends are sort of meh but if it's a wife (or husband) it matters. Leave a comment if you think otherwise.
"If there's no ring, it ain't a thang"
Wisecracks aside, just be a good judge if you're in a longtime realtionship. Whoever you deem significant will be involved in your company and whatever happens to it will be reported back home.
The main point is that you must have full 100% buy-in. Not 99%. 100%. And, if you have kids, the stakes are just much higher.
Which, in turn, brings me to the definition of "buy-in". Some business owners make the mistake of thinking that their partners are simply not all in with the company because of a lack of faith in the owner.
While that possibility exists, there is also the possibility of not fully selling the idea to your partner. If you're wondering why your wife has been putting you on blast, it is because "trust me, this will be great" was your last pitch to her before you embarked on your six months of nothing.
Build a bridge between your spouse and your idea. Break down how the company will work; how it will generate revenue. Cover the risks and costs involved. Allow her to ask questions about the company and how it will provide for the family and their future. Above all, intimately explain why it's your mission to make it happen. Then, have her sign off on it. This will avoid a ton of drama in the future and makes the pursuit of your goals more attainable with this kind of support. As for the kids, get them involved. Help them understand the company you're creating. Know that they are a large piece of your future. This also allows your wife/partner to shield you from whatever she deems as unnecessary family drama.
2. Decide if ironing out the drama between two parties is worth it.
Either iron that crap out or leave it alone. Eff it.
Don't stand in between other people's drama - even if it's at you.
Now, if you're in the wrong, make your sincere apology and move on. If you're in the business of gossip, you need to find a job at TMZ. Running a business is just a different mindset.
I have learned to adapt to a more straightforward rekindling of old friendships. I may not attend every single party between some of my closest cohorts but I've learned to say no during crunch times and just be honest.
Be straight. If you're committed to making this work, that's how you should treat your company. You're its first employee. Entrepreneurs call this sweat equity. You're doing the labor now but the check doesn't come in until much later.
The hope is that the strength of your relationships will just resolve on its own in other ways. As you continue to push the company into the next levels and gain success over time, try updating your closest friends along with your journey as you reach towards the finish line of a big project. Let your friends play a part in the feedback process. This lets them know you still exist. A healthy level of skepticism from your friends can also be helpful in most cases as long as it is constructive. This keeps you connected and provide understanding. Of course, there will be detractors whom will talk among your friends and that's ok. That will only test the strengh of your relationship between you and your friends. Your friends don't have to be staunch defenders, they just need to be around when you've reached a milestone.
Ignore the drama at every level as much as you can. The less attention you put in others reactions the more time you get frying bigger fish and kill its momentum. Unless it's your own family, your Mom and Dad, or the investor who's infused a ton of cash into your business, it's time to move forward.
Drama is mostly childish and attention-seeking. Some people have not yet grown up and unfortunately, as a business owner, we're surrounded by lots of them. We just need to make sure they're just customers - and not employees. But, if for whatever reasons, you have no choice in the matter, tell these detractors that you are not going to engage with them until they regain control and can deal with you calmly.
This draws a clear line for how you are willing to be treated and sends a message to the unfaithful and the friends that know you. Detractors have the control to change the outcome of the interaction, which could be an enlightening moment for them.
But in the case it doesn't work out in the end, cut your losses, and move forward with your business. Hopefully they'll come around once your business begins its winning streak. It's all noise meant to keep you off focus from your real goals.
Stay hungry. Stay foolish.