Ten years ago I made a decision-a decision that would ultimately change the direction of my life forever. Rather than remaining in England and working as a broker, or moving to Chicago for a cushy job in a financial firm, I decided to forge my own path and start my own business. I would return to my roots in the publishing industry, and at the same time assist in taking care of my ailing grandmother.
My father, an entrepreneur, provided me a great deal of emotional support. My mother did also, suggesting she might come and stay with me for a while, to make sure I knew my way around town. My grandmother, now living in an assisted living facility, encouraged me to come and live in her home. In turn, I promised to assist in her care and visit her daily.
This plethora of family support provided me a much needed fountain of strength, especially when things became challenging. After difficult days in the field, overcoming objections and convincing people to participate in my project, I loved coming back to a grandmother and her friends who provided me with a respite from the stress of my daily working life.
It is important to understand that when one embarks on a new endeavor, stress levels can run high, even if the stress is positive. In the early days, I often thought of my childhood role model, Princess Diana, and how the lack of family support in her situation ultimately, albeit indirectly, led to her untimely death and to the end of what I like to call “Diana Inc.” Regarding her first official royal tour in Australia, Diana stated that when she heard people saying “Oh, she (Diana) (i)s on the other side,” Charles felt quite “low about it, instead of feeling happy and sharing it.” In response to what would ultimately become the theme of their entire marriage, Diana stated,
“It was isolating, but it was also a situation where you couldn’t indulge in feeling sorry for yourself: you had to either sink or swim. And you had to learn that very fast.” “And what did you do?” the reporter asked. “ I swam.”
She swam-for the next fifteen years-most of it alone. But ultimately, Diana quit, citing lack of support on the part of the Queen, The Queen Mother, and Prince Charles. Without their love and support, she simply could not carry on her duties. The way Diana reacted is not uncommon. In fact, more than half of all businesses fail.
One of the primary reasons cited by business owners for the reason business failure occurs is the lack of emotional support provided by family and friends. For me, this support has remained a key factor in my success. For example, I chose a spouse who supports me emotionally and encourages me in my work. I knew from Diana’s failure, that the choice of a supportive spouse would be a substantial key in my success. At one point, my husband made a financial investment in my business, citing his faith in my business acumen. Another time, when a partnership upon which I had embarked became distasteful, my husband provided loving guidance on how to buy out the partner’s shares. Through it all, he has remained my rock and given me much needed trust, support, and encouragement.
In a similar manner, when Lisa Halaby married King Hussein of Jordan, she stepped into unfamiliar territory, as an American Queen in a foreign country. Viewed with suspicion by the people of Jordan, she did not exactly experience a fantastic “homecoming.” However, with the loving and unwavering support of her husband, Lisa (now known as Queen Noor) opened an office, hired a staff, and began offering micro-financing loans to poor Bedouin women making handicrafts from home. Queen Noor set up consignment agreements with local shopkeepers, subsequently spawning an entire cottage industry of women able to support their families. When the occasional husband expressed jealousy in the success of his wife, King Hussein personally stepped in and told the men that they should be proud of their wives, just as had tremendous pride in his own wife. Queen Noor went on to be the most successful Queen in Jordan to date, helping more people economically than any other person in the history of the country. She always cited the loving support of King Hussein as the key to her success.
In conclusion, businesses fail for many reasons, but a major reason is the lack of family support provided to entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely, difficult road. The support of family and friends is a major factor in long-term success. As indicated by the failure of Princess Diana in her royal role, all the money in the world cannot make up for the lack of emotional support. I have succeeded because I received this support from loving parents, a wonderful grandmother, and a husband that believes in me above all else. As entrepreneurs embark on their journey, it is important to create an environment where this need is fulfilled, or the business is likely to fail.