Before I begin. I’d just like to say that I love my parents and living at home has many surprising benefits. But in this article, I’d like to go into a detail about my experience with living at home while launching a startup (rather… startups).
Living at home with your parents is a lot more tough when you are an entrepreneur.
While I love my parents, explaining to them how life for our generation (and as an entrepreneur) can be is sometimes like hitting my head against a brick wall. I’m sure the feeling is mutual! Sometimes when they are talking, I don’t understand a word they say either.
It’s swings and roundabouts and sometimes it’s pretty black and white. I’m what’s called a “Millennial” and my parents fall under the “Babyboomer” category, as much as they don’t like to admit it.
Can you see my conundrum with my parents?
My parents and I come from entirely different backgrounds. They were brought up with a “hard skin, get on with it, and maybe one day you’ll get to see retirement” type of attitude.
I hate that kind of attitude and it physically makes my skin crawl. How can I accept the thought that one day I’ll reach the age where I’m allowed to take my money that I’ve worked so hard for, only to spend a couple of years with it!?
The average retirement age here in the UK is 73!! And I’m sure our cousins on the other side of the pond aren’t far off.
I do not like those statistics.
I want to be able to enjoy my life and not have to sit behind a desk for years on end just to get to retirement and not live a life of purpose. That’s why I got into entrepreneurship…while living at home.
How I built my first business while living at home.
Brad (my business partner & podcast co-host) and I started working with each other back in 2014 when we thought we would take the world by storm by buying cheap mobile phone accessories from Alibaba and sell them on our eBay business page.
My parents actually completely understood the concept and surpisingly said that they could see us making money from this. However, the venture flopped and we didn’t even make back the money we had spent on the accessories in the first place.
My parents were supportive enough to encourage us with suggestions of ways to get rid of the leftover accessories – speaking of which, let me know if you’re interested in some, as I still have two boxes of them sitting in my garage!
With our tails tucked between our legs from the embarrassment of starting a business we knew nothing about, we went on the hunt for something else – something more meaningful.
We came across the term “affiliate marketing” – the glamour word that continues to swoop the internet.
Everybody wanted to become an affiliate marketer. The dream of sitting on a beach with just a laptop, while the money came in from all directions without having to do anything seemed like a life I could get used to.
I explained the process to my parents, and this is how the conversation went…
Greg: Mother, Father, I have some exciting news, Brad and I have found a way to make money without actually having to do much, all from our laptops. We don’t even need a physical product. We can be anywhere in the world, and we can earn money.
Parents: That’s not possible? You need a physical product to sell, how can you make money without a product?
Greg: Well, consider me the middle man of the internet. I find products from companies that I want to sell, I promote their products, and they give me a commission of the sale if someone buys the product through me.
Parents: Okay, so where does the product come from?
Greg: The product still comes from the company,.They deal with everything, I just have to do all of the marketing and promotion.
Parents: Right! We get it. So you have to hand out flyers and go door to door to sell the product
Greg: No, I promote the product through the likes of my social media channels, paid advertising, blogging, vlogging, email marketing, websites & a tonne of other ways!
Need I go on?
They did not understand a word that was coming out of my mouth. I might as well have been speaking Arabic. I can see why they didn’t get it.
However, they let us get on with it, and in the end, they came around to the idea (after I spent almost nine months explaining it to them).
Brad and I eventually stopped promoting products online partly because we didn’t feel like we had purpose doing it, and partly because we were spending so much money selling the product and not seeing a solid return. Another failure in the books.
The toughest part in all of this was having to tell my parents the reasons why we couldn’t get things running correctly. I had been raving about how I was going to be able to quit my job and travel the world while still making money, and now, that wasn’t going to be the case.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing…
I wish I could go back and slap myself in the face.
If I had a pound for every time my parents and I had an argument about why Brad and I weren’t making any money and for each hour I spent trying to explain the process to them and how it all works, I would be a very wealthy man.
I thought I knew it all. Obviously, I didn’t.
For anybody reading this who doesn’t know who I am or what I’m currently doing, I co-host a podcast called – Stage One Startup; The Podcast for Startups & Aspiring Entrepreneurs.
This all began when I had another argument with my parents about why our affiliate marketing venture wasn’t making any money.
Brad and I sat at the Morley household dining room table, frustrated, isolated and broke.
This is how the conversation went.
Brad: Why isn’t there anywhere we can go to that tells us the story of exactly how all of these successful entrepreneurs are doing this?
Greg: Problem is, there is too much fluff on the internet that you have to go through to be able to get to the information that works.
Brad: F*ck it, let’s create a podcast where we interview all of these successful people who we admire, to find out how they are doing it!
There it is was, as simple as that.
We were off and running and that very night we started getting things into place for the launch of Stage One Startup.
Telling the parents.
This was a difficult one. Don’t worry I won’t tell you how the conversation went, but let’s just say it wasn’t an easy one.
I had to explain to them what a podcast is, how a podcast works and how I was going to be able to make money from it.
I think the hardest part of this was the fact that we have no real plans on actually making any money from it…not for the first year at least. We understood that this was going to be hard and that we would have to be in it for the long-haul.
Since we started the podcast, we still haven’t made a single penny from it.
And that’s the hardest thing for my parents to understand. We spend every single night working on this thing that we’ve grown such an emotional attachment to.
My parents could never understand why we would spend every single working hour on this project and not get paid for it. To them, it’s downright obscene.
However, they think it’s amazing that we get to interview incredible people every night when we come home from work.
The one question that I get asked by my Dad, that might put this whole thing into perspective for you is:
“How are you finding all of your guests that you have on your podcast?”
But to us millennials, that’s an easy question to answer. “We use social media and the internet… it’s easy!”
Both my parents and I are now at an understanding.
A lot of people, my parents included, wouldn’t consider a podcast to be a “startup” and I understand that. At this stage it’s more of a hobby and in all honesty, I completely agree.
It’s our plans for the future that would class us under the “startup” category.
Our vision for the future is more than just a hobby. We plan on turning this into a sustainable, viable business that helps people all around the world.
The Generation gap.
To round this off, I’d just like to say that my parents have read this article and completely agree with what I’ve written. We haven’t argued about it because it’s all fact.
There is a massive generational gap, and I believe that gap needs to be filled.
Most millennials completely understand the fact that the opportunities are endless and we now know that we do not have to settle for less. We do not have to submit to conformity.
We can get our laptops out, start something today and soon make a life that has purpose… without having to get sucked into a job that we despise.
Unfortunately from my parent’s generation’s point of view, it’s considered “normal” to get a job at the age of 18, work your way up the corporate ladder, suck up to people you don’t like and then get that 80K/year job to only spend a few hours a night with your loved ones.
I have a solution to all of this… we have to all come together and share and intertwine the knowledge that both generations have and work together to make the world a better place (that’s why we started our podcast)
Instead, we’re all stuck thinking that we know more than each other, when in actual fact, it’s a hell of a lot easier to help each other out and share what we’ve learned throughout our combined years.
We’re all good!
My parents and I are great, and I can’t emphasize how much they’ve helped me throughout this entire journey. They have been with us through everything.
For that, I am truly grateful.
In short, living with my parents during these experiences hasn’t been easy. They’ve been there to witness all the struggles and failures, and they don’t always understand that this is part of the entrepreneurial process.
But at the same time, it’s been a blessing. Without their support- and their perspectives, which so often differs from mine and Brad’s – Stage One Startup would not exist today.
To make a positive note out of all of this, I believe it’s now time to stop with the labeling of “Millennials“, “Baby Boomers“, “Internet Boomers” & “Technophobes“.
Let’s work together to make the journey for a startup a lot easier, because we all know how hard it really is.