How many of these have YOU heard?
Running your own business is challenging in about a million different ways, and when your to-do list is long, the last thing you have time for is figuring out how to answer awkward questions. But as an entrepreneur, it can sometimes seem unavoidable.
Most of us know what it’s like to go home for the holidays and be grilled by a nosy relative, but for self-employed folks like us, nosy questions don’t come just once a year. Often, they’ll spring up like weeds as soon someone asks, “So, what do you do for a living?”
Here are some of the questions we hear and are really tired of answering… Plus how to brush them off.
“What’s your business plan look like?”
To be fair, this question is usually friendly. More often than not, people innocently ask about your plan because they are curious about the type of company you run or they’re excited to hear about your ideas. But, other times they are passing judgment, thinking maybe you don’t know what you’re doing, so “fingers crossed”, you have a plan!
No matter why someone asks this question, only you and your team really need to know what your business plan looks like. And guess what? If you don’t have a plan right now, that’s okay too! (Knowing how to make one is often the most important hurdle to jump over.) It’s all part of the journey.
“How can you own a business and still be a mom?”
Obviously, only the ladies get asked this question, yet if you really stop to think about it, it’s almost offensive. Just in the way it’s worded, it’s implied that you can’t run a successful business and be a mother, and that if you attempt to do both you’re probably shortchanging at least one area of your life.
What people don’t realize about being an entrepreneur is that this path allows you to be more available to your kids than more traditional jobs. The next time you get asked this question by a fellow parent, be honest. Sure, there are challenges, but what other career gives you the flexibility to go to the park with your child on a Tuesday afternoon… just because you want to?
“Why can’t you just take a day off?”
Another innocent (but annoying) question from people who are usually just confused about how our wild-and-crazy schedules work. A lot of folks see self-employed people absolutely running themselves into the ground, so this question does actually make sense. The key here is to let these concerned friends or family members know that, often, it is your own choice to do some work every day. After all, no entrepreneur has signed a mysterious contract that says we aren’t ever allowed to take a break – we’re just highly driven and passionate, and we value flexibility in scheduling.
But don’t forget: No matter how passionate you are about your business, burnout is real and allowing time for your own self-care is crucial. Maybe the next time someone asks this, consider taking a moment to reflect on the last time you really did take a break.
“So what’s your profit margin?”
This question has a lot of derivatives from “How much money do you make?” to “Do you make a lot of money doing that?” No matter how it’s worded, the question is usually unexpected and a tad awkward to answer.
Of course, few of us would tell someone to butt out (even though we’d have good reason to say this). Luckily there are friendlier ways to address this question. Try answering with something casual, but non-revealing. For example, “I’m really happy with how things are going” and then quickly change the subject.
Awkward questions may be occupational hazards, but they don’t have to trip you up! The next time you’re asked an awkward question about being an entrepreneur, remind yourself that you’re lucky that people inquire about your job and are genuinely interested in your answers. These questions mean your work is interesting and you get to experience a life that many aren’t fortunate enough to have.
About Emily D. Tisdale, Founder & CEO
Meet the brains — and heart — behind LEAP for Women. Emily is LEAP’s guiding force, committed to supporting women entrepreneurs at every stage in their journey.
She loves LEAP because:
A resident of Indiana, Emily prides herself on being a transplanted Hoosier and enjoys watching Colts football and spending time with her husband and their two children.