How do I make my mother open a side business?


My mother is reaching 55, and she raises ideas for start-ups every now and then.

I am a software developer and I'm used to rapid prototyping, so I keep urging her to just go ahead a do it! I believe in agile test-tweak iterations to get to a viable business.

My mother owned a small business that got into difficulties in the 2008 recession.
She filed bankruptcy and started working as a salaried sales woman in a big company.

She doesn't love her job, and she keeps talking about the good old days when she was her own boss.
On the other hand, she's very afraid of opening a new business because she's afraid to
fail again.

I want my mother to be happy and earn money doing what she loves.

I keep telling her 'go for it', I research her ideas, I offer mine and think of a business plan...
But then she raises so many drawbacks and forgets about the whole thing for another few weeks.

I'm getting tired of hearing all her ideas over and over again, and investing so much energy to help her achieve them, and again and again seeing her do nothing. How can I make her just go for it and achieve her dreams?

Thank you all!

Motivation Business Family

asked Jul 30 '11 at 22:57
Nur Ne
186 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • What is the business about? – A. Garcia 13 years ago
  • Great news: my mother started taking courses in which will help her start a side business. :) – Nur Ne 12 years ago

3 Answers


I will answer the question of what you can do to make your mother open a side business.

My answer: You can't. You shouldn't.

First of all, I answer from a philosphoical perspective that none of us should try to make another adult do anything. We can encourage, we can support, we can engage in logical or illogical arguements- but if we approach if from a perspective of "make" it always backfires.

Second, from a perspective of family dynamics and relationships. We often do things for family that we wouldn't otherwise do. The varialbles of making Mom/Dad/Son/Daughter proud can quickly outway other variables of consideration. Family are best in" I support and love you what ever you choose" roles than in 'I advocate you do this role. . "

Third from an issue of sustainability. You want the choice to be authentically their own, because when the times for the startup get tough- and they will- your mother will need her whole heart and" ownership" in the game. You don't want there to even be an inclining of doubt that" I did this for my son" in her thoughts.

Last of all based on the other issues you address I would propose you consider your Mm might be doing exactly what she needs to do to heal right now. Losing a business is hard. It. Is takes a lot out of you. It often takes years to recover. Complaining about the current job and dreaming of the romance of self employment may be a very healthy part of the healing process. Her ability to find something wrong with every option means to me that she isn't ready to jump. She will be, she may, she may not.

So what do you do? If you enjoy researching ideas because of the satisfaction it gives you then do it. If you do it because your mother asks you, do it. If you do it regardless of the outcome, without judgement or expectation- do it. If not, maybe it is time to let it go.

answered Jul 31 '11 at 00:21
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points
  • +1: I wish I could give this +100. People have to heal emotional injuries in their own way, at their own pace. It sounds like your mother has all the tools and external resources she needs to "go for it", and the roadblocks are in her heart. So don't push. Be supportive and encouraging when she's heading in a direction you think is healthy, and if she's doing something that seems pointless or crazy, like complaining about her job when she won't do anything to change it, just let her be - maybe she needs to do it to heal. As long as she's not harming anyone, be patient. – Bob Murphy 13 years ago
  • I wish I could give this another +100 for the last paragraph. Only invest time and effort in ways that you're comfortable with. It sounds like you're frustrated and feel like you've wasted your time - but nobody forced you to do that. You can't change your mother - you can only change what you do. – Bob Murphy 13 years ago
  • You also mentioned Agile - and the first prescriptive in the Agile Manifesto is "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools". It sounds like you're completely concentrated on a "process", which is your mother starting a business. You need to focus on her as a human being. Listen to her. Be compassionate. You will sense when it's time to help her with a business because she will start the process herself. – Bob Murphy 13 years ago
  • BTW, I've found you can easily help humans and cats in a direction they're already going, but it requires extraordinary effort to get them to change course. They may go your way briefly with some coercion or brow-beating, but as soon as you stop, they'll go back to doing whatever it is they really want to do, even if they know their reasons for it are irrational or even insane. Now, except for life-threatening emergencies, I mostly put my energy into people who are already headed in a direction I think is good, and hope the rest get any arm-twisting they need from life rather than me. – Bob Murphy 13 years ago
  • Joseph, thank you so much for the answer!! You opened my eyes to another perspective. We do have many arguments about it that ruin our relationship. I'm for sure too pushy about it, and I will let go. However I will keep supporting her and giving my feedback. – Nur Ne 13 years ago
  • @NurNE: Bravo! I wish I'd learned that lesson at your age, instead of in my late forties. – Bob Murphy 13 years ago


Continue to encourage and support, mention the things she's been successful at in the past when encouraging her to move forward with an idea. Help her connect the dots and get the correct resources. She should build off the relationships she has from her last business, whether customers, lawyers, bankers, etc. (only those with integrity though), as well as encourage her to meet with local entrepreneurs and people that can offer advice on her ideas.

Encourage her to become part of a network like a women's small business network, or an entrepreneur network. Find a way where you aren't her only life line, if that makes sense.

answered Jul 30 '11 at 23:23
314 points
  • Bertrood, Thanks for your answer! I will implement what you suggested. Immediately after reading your answer, I contacted a community that gives courses on green start-ups, which is her area. Thanks! – Nur Ne 13 years ago


A pretty simple & short answer/advice: Make her open a buisness that is small enough that she can run it without fear. Small investments, small amount of work, small income - nothing to be afraid of. If you go on skis after a big crash again, the first or second run always feels strange. But if you don't stand up again, your fear will some day be that big, that you will never overcome it. Do the first one or two steps and tell it's just a try without expectations. When she earns the first 100$, things will likely start changing and as self confidence grows, you'll not be needed anymore. Don't expect here to quit her job soon and don't tell her to do so. Also don't expect, that the first buisness is more than a training.

answered Aug 1 '11 at 09:50
121 points
  • thank you! I will use your suggestions. The business model I think is right for her is a micro weekend startup. It will fill up a micro niche and she will rule it! But of course I want that to come from her. The difference is that I'm heavy on startuping, and she's intimidated by startuping. I really think that the start small baby steps technique you suggest is right for this case. Keep your daily job, and moonlight your startup! – Nur Ne 13 years ago
  • You're welcome :) Best wishes! (And come back and tell us what happened). – Kaiser 13 years ago

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Motivation Business Family