The importance of social support when starting up

One of the most common fears new entrepreneurs have to face when starting up is the social fear, experts participating in a research part of FACE (Failure Aversion Change in Europe) Entrepreneurship concluded. Founders are often afraid of being exposed to their friends, family and co-workers, who may doubt or even laugh down their intended idea. Moreover, potential entrepreneurs fear that, if they fail, they may be considered a failure for life and may not be given further opportunities.

To help young entrepreneurs deal and overcome these fears, FACE Entrepreneurship is conducting a European tour of offline events. The last one, "FACE Prague. Umh! I have something to tell you", consisted of a panel and networking session that took place on March 3rd at the Ministry of Industry in Prague. Four well-known entrepreneurs – Kristina Tsvetanova, Ragnar Sass, Marek Fodor and Dennis Tan – shared their experiences and the doubts they faced when explaining to their beloved ones that they decided to leave their stable jobs and embark on the entrepreneurial path.

A very common fear that you shouldn’t hide

Vitek Horky, Brand Embassy's co-founder and CEO, moderated the panel, addressing the European entrepreneurship ecosystem and the barriers that fears pose. “What if my family doesn’t support me?” was one of the permanent questions in the room. And all the speakers agreed that having your family’s understanding is often hard at the beginning, but their support is very important through the path of entrepreneurship.

“When I told my mom she asked me if I was crazy! There were a lot of discussions at home but today my family is happy because I’m happy,” explained Kristina Tsvetanova, CEO and co-founder at BLITAB Technologies. “Nobody believed in my idea of creating innovation in the social area in Bulgaria, especially for disabilities. Nobody supported me, neither the government nor the public bodies. Even my family didn’t believe that this would happen,” she added.

Nowadays, BLITAB is an award-winning startup that has achieved great recognition. As Tsvetanova explained, “Now, we already have support from Bulgaria, from the presidency, the government and the social ministry there, and I believe many people worldwide saw the potential of social entrepreneurship.”

The story that the Bulgarian entrepreneur shared is a common one that many entrepreneurs experience; at the very beginning of their journey they didn’t get the support they expected but, eventually, they earned it by proving their passion to their loved ones.

Another example of this idea was Marek Fodor’s anecdote. When he moved to Barcelona to work in Foreign Exchange his parents thought he was into some “economic, weird currency business”. That funny mistake proves that sometimes the problem is that they don’t really understand what we are going to do. “When they knew what I was doing by themselves and saw me happy, they understood,” the Slovak entrepreneur, co-founder of Atrápalo and Chairman of Kantox, shared with attendees.

Social fears had a greater impact on Dennis Tan, co-founder of Dashmote, who admitted that he didn’t tell his family from the beginning. But, as he concluded, “In the end your parents want the best for you and if you show them what you love, at some point they will be comfortable with that.”

Another perspective of social fear was pointed out by Ragnar Sass, co-founder of Pipedrive and of Garage48 Hackathons. For this Estonian entrepreneur, failure and success are so close when starting up that entrepreneurs will eventually have to face them both and, when failure happens, support is essential.

During the event it became clear that the entrepreneurial path is a learning process that goes up and down and, as Vitek Horky concluded, “being an entrepreneur is actually about identifying our failures, acknowledging that we are doing mistakes, leaning from them and never doing the same ones again.”

The event ended with the raffle of two tickets for the next South Summit event and a networking session where participants could talk one to one with the speakers while enjoying tapas.

You can find more information about FACE Entrepreneurship here.