How Entrepreneurs Can Defeat Negativity

This is a guest post by Shayla Eaton, a connoisseur of the writing and editing process, having edited over 150 books and countless articles, blogs, social media posts, and marketing campaigns. She now helps authors and organizations in her own business, Curiouser Editing. Of course, Shayla loves coffee and is an admirer of all things creative and bookish.


You: “I sold $3,000 worth of coffee beans this month! That’s a new record.”

Friend/family member/stranger: “You didn’t really make that much, though. You have to pay taxes, give to charity, and pay your employee. See? You can’t make a real income with what’s left.”

Pessimism is the entrepreneur’s kryptonite.

It can stop you dead in your tracks and beat you down before you even realize what’s happening.

So how does the entrepreneur defeat negativity?

I recently finished a self-help book bluntly titled Dealing with People You Can’t Stand. While the book focuses on understanding the corporate world’s personalities and how to deal with negativity in the workplace, I found that the same advice could be applied to entrepreneurs.

I polled several people and found some eyebrow-raising answers to the question, “What are some negative/pessimistic things people have told you regarding your dream/career goals?”

Whether you’re just entering into the entrepreneur world or you’ve been succeeding at it for years, you’ve probably been the victim of at least one of these polled responses, if not more.

The hardest part of handling these snide remarks about starting your own business is remaining positive when you’re hurt by their pessimistic words. Dealing with People You Can’t Stand suggests different kinds of responses for different personalities—from lighthearted to frank. I’ve taken the liberty of lining out some of those responses.

Here are 11 negatives phrases entrepreneurs hear and 11(ish) positive responses you can use:

1. “You already have a good-paying job. Why would you want to leave it?”

 Your answer: “I’ve been blessed with a good-paying job, and for that, I’m thankful. However, my career isn’t just about money. I am choosing to do something I love doing, and if I happen to make money doing what makes me happy, that’s even better.

2. “Is that really going to make you a living, though?”

 Your answer: “Absolutely. I might not know the exact number just yet, but I can’t wait to found out what it is when I get there.”

3. “If you had wanted it bad enough, you would have done it by now.”

 Your answer: “I wanted this so badly that I had to take a step back and reorganize to ensure that I achieved the best results possible.”

4. “But you don’t have your degree.”

Your answer: “Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg. Ralph Lauren. David Green. James Cameron. Sir Richard Branson. Walt Disney.”

A less-snide answer: “You’re right. I don’t have my degree. And you better believe I’m not going to let that stop me from sprinting after my dream.”

5. “Right, but what’s your real job?”

Your answer: “My real job is doing what I love. I get to [fill in the blank] every day, and I can promise you it is no substitute for living out someone else’s life purpose.”

6. “You can’t do that. You have kids.”

 Your answer: “I can’t do this without my kids. They’re so supportive and excited to see me following my dreams. I’m thankful I get to teach them how to go for what they want in life. I want them to love what they do, and I’m grateful to teach them that.”

7. “Let somebody else do that—somebody who knows how to do it already.”

 Your answer: “That sounds a little boring to me. I enjoy the challenge of learning new things and stimulating my brain.

8. “That’s not stable income.”

Your answer: “Right now, it’s not stable. It’s tough work! And I am putting my all and my everything into it to have more than just a stable income. It’s going to feel so incredible when I reach that point. I can’t wait to see my hard work pay off.”

9. “That’s a lot of schooling/hard work.”

Your answer: “Isn’t it, though? I can’t imagine anything being easy that’s worth it. It’s the things that take time that are so valued.”

10. “Didn’t you already start a business once? I thought it didn’t work out.”

Your answer: “That’s right, I did. If I hadn’t started that business, though, I wouldn’t have a clue what I’m doing now. Thanks to the lessons I learned in the first business, I know what to do and what not to do with this one. It’s like going to business school, but without the school debt.”

11. “We couldn’t do that. We have a mortgage to pay and kids to feed.”

 Your answer: “Small world! So do we.”

Your answer: “I think you can do anything you put your mind to. We’ve made adjustments, and things are tight, but we couldn’t be happier. Do you have a business you’ve always wanted to start? You could start a savings fund right now.”

             “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” — John C. Maxwell

Don’t expect these responses to change a person’s viewpoint of your career choice. Don’t expect to even remember these responses when the time comes.

But do expect to work hard and chase your dream even when no one thinks you can.

Question: What are some positive responses you’ve given when negativity hits you?