You slowly slit open the envelope from ancestry.com with shaking hands. This is the make-or-break moment. 

Opening...scanning…ripping paper into a thousand infinitesimal pieces.

UGHH! I guess I am related to these people. Every single one of them. 

You march upstairs to pick out a professional-looking outfit, like that will deter them. You just know your family will pelt questions at you about your new business, which, in turn, will slowly strip away your pride and leave you questioning every decision you’ve made over the past year. 

While gazing out your bedroom window and contemplating the repercussions of faking your death, you notice a Hawaiian shirt-clad intruder hanging off your downspout.

You rush to throw open the window and shout, “Who the hell are you? How’d you get up here? I’m calling the police.”

In the blink of an eye, the vacation-wear-clad gentleman leaps through your bedroom window, grabbing your phone and hurling it out the window.

“No need to be alarmed. I’m Coach Crackle. I was inspecting the joints of your gutters andrelaxing-chilling overheard you cursing out Ancestry.com. Let me guess, Thanksgiving BBQ? (How on earth did he guess that? Rumors of your family’s penchant for unorthodox holiday meals must be going around town) Do you really want to go to your Aunt Pearl’s house, eat bad barbeque, drink weak cocktails, and be interviewed as if you’ve never had a job? Not to worry, I’m going to help you navigate today’s BBQ and give you the perfect answers to all your lovely relatives’ questions about your new business. Now before we leave, how sure are we about the suit and tie? It’s still warm, and you would look great in a Hawaiian shirt.” 

Soon enough, you and the strange man are heading to Aunt Pearl’s house. As you pull into the driveway, Mr. Crackle hands you an earpiece and a spy camera and jumps in the back seat. “We’re going to “Ratatouille” this party together! I’ll be in your ear the whole time, giving you all the answers to your relatives’ questions. Now get out there, champ, and don’t forget to bring me a plate of barbecue when you’re done.”

As you approach the front door to Aunt Pearl’s house, the earpiece crackles (haha, see what we did there) to life.

Thanksgiving 2021 Blog_Uncle Ted (1)

Uncle Ted: “What is it that you do again?”

Before you even get to the door, your Uncle Ted swings around the side of the house and dishes up the first question. Time for the classic elevator pitch. Put on your simplify-your-business hat and give Uncle Ted the layman version in 60 seconds or less.

Why so short? Most of the time, your relatives are just being nice and don’t care about your opinions on the best roofing nails or the correlation between landscaping and property values. So, don’t bother going into endless details about your business. Just give them the basics; provide a brief synopsis of your business and why you are going to succeed at it. Then wave to someone over by the pool (hint: no one is over there beckoning you) and speed-walk the hell out of there.

Example Response:

200 (2)

“Hi, Uncle Ted. I decided to open my own handyman business last year. I want to help make home projects easier for the people in our town. I’ve done paint jobs, gutter repairs, deck builds, and even bathroom renovation. Business is great, and the future looks bright. (Waves at pool phantom and commences speed walk away). See you later, Uncle Ted!”

 

 

Thanksgiving 2021 Blog_Aunt Pearl (1)

Aunt Pearl: “So, you actually make money doing that?”

Aunt Pearl sees you by the pool and saunters over to you with a slice of her dry-as-sand banana bread. You take an obligatory bite of saw-dust as she begins grilling you about who on earth would PAY for your services.

Look straight into her loving but coldly critiquing pupils and give her an example of a project you’ve done recently, proving that, yes, you get paid for the business you offer. Your Aunt Pearl spends her time trying to improve her banana bread recipe. Don’t bore her with your balance sheet. Describe to her the valuable service you provide, and you will be home-free.

Example Response:backing-you-get-yours

“Hi, Aunt Pearl. This banana bread is delicious! Yes, I’ve started my own handyman business. And I get paid all the time. Just last week, I was hired by your friend Gloria — you know, the lovely lady who gave you this banana bread recipe? Anyway, she needed her whole second floor painted, and I knocked it out in half a day’s work and walked away with a check to cash. Speaking of knocking, I need to go talk to Grandpa Joe over there about where he buys his nails. I love his nails. See you in a bit, Aunt Pearl!” 

 

Thanksgiving 2021 Blog_Grandpa Joe

Grandpa Joe: “When are you going to get a real job?”b231ffcab638d1c7329a68f4ba543c5a

After dishing about nails, Grandpa Joe gives you a stern look, takes out his missile launcher, and fires a “real-job” query missile straight at your entrepreneurial heart! Commence evasion tactics. Answer him with detailed information about what you do during the day. The reality of being an entrepreneur is that your days are full, and you don’t have the luxury of looking for mythical “real jobs.”

Example Response:

“Hi, Gramps. You see, most of my days start with digital or print marketing efforts, and then I pivot to completing scheduled handyman projects. From painting to carpentry, countertop installation to porch repair, driveway sealing to deck renovation, my days are as full as my pockets. Good talkin’ to you Grandpa Joe, but Cousin Bill (who is actually bailing you out with a two-thumbs-up) looks like he wants a word. See you later!”

 

Thanksgiving 2021 Blog_Cousin Bill

Cousin Bill: “Do you offer a family or friend discount?” 

Grateful for the thumbs-up, you will greet Cousin Bill with genuine amiability. This will quickly turn to animosity when you realize the intent of his hairy raised thumbs. Cousin Bill will congratulate you on starting your handyman business. Ruffling his greasy hair, he will ask about getting a family discount for a shelf installation project he’s been wanting to do for ages. You must embolden yourself to the necessary response: “Um, no.”

Don’t let your family or friends persuade you to join the Family Discount Club. It’s a cult that200 (3) worships, out of a sense of familial entitlement, all that is cheap or free (much like the doorbuster death trap that has engulfed the big-chain retailers like JCPenney) You will become imprisoned at this Family Discount Cult, and your new business start-up will fall to the wayside, just like your Aunt Pearl’s partially-nibbled banana bread.

Example Response:

“Hi, Bill. Looking good these days, especially those thumbs, very hairy. Listen, all of my clients are like family to me, so I can’t offer any discounts on my services, even to my real family. Otherwise, I won’t make any money. And that would, well, suck. I’m going to take a breather on the deck for a few minutes. It’s hot out here. See you around!” 

 

Thanksgiving 2021 Blog_Cousin Sue

Cousin Sue: “Do you just work in your pajamas all day?”

Sitting in a deck chair by yourself, you take a quiet moment of reflection when all of a sudden,giphy-1 Coach Crackle bellows in your ear, “INCOMING! COUSIN SUE, 3-O’CLOCK”! Cousin Sue lands in the two-person lounger next to you like a mortar shell on Normandy, sweaty thighs akimbo, fruity drink sloshing around threateningly. 

“I heard from Grandpa Joe that you spend your mornings in your PJs on Facebook and Instagram. Must be nice not having to get dressed for work each morning.”  Before you are even able to stammer out a response, Coach Crackle shouts in your ear, “It’s a TRAP! She’s trying to gather intel for the rumor mill. Quick! Make a joke!” 

Example of Response:

“I prefer to work in my birthday suit. (Cousin Sue blinks, clearly not getting the joke. Why is this side of the family so dense?). I’m only kidding. Working in my PJs all day long sure would be nice, but most days I’m meeting with clients, suppliers, and investors, so I usually go for business casual when I’m in my office and jeans and a company t-shirt when I’m on the job site. Hey, I could send you a free shirt if you’d like? They’re lightweight, heat-resistant, functional, and, dare I say it, handyman-chic. Oh, look at the time, I haven’t eaten anything yet, and all the barbeque smells amazing.” 

 

Thanksgiving 2021 Blog_Uncle Mike

Uncle Mike: “Can I talk to you about an idea?”

As you make your way to the Thanksgiving BBQ spread, who should appear but your Uncle Mike, who proposes combining his landscaping aptitude with your handyman business. Unlike your entrepreneurial spirit, which mandates close consideration over time, you can tell this is a normal person pitch, an off-the-cuff proposal that has not been fully sussed out. Your approach for handling his proposition should be two-tiered:

  1. Don an air of deep consideration and engagement. It will satisfy the watchful party.

  2. Ask leading questions about their proposal. It will make them realize the inadequacies of their business plan.

If Uncle Mike is still not deterred by the holes in his plan, it’s time to highlight the problems he is200 (4) facing and offer up some viable solutions to them. This could enhance Uncle Mike’s enthusiasm for his idea, or he will pull away from his plan of action. If it’s the former, give him some homework to get the ball rolling. If it is the latter, simply reply with a courteous, “Well, I’m excited to see what comes of all of this.” Chances are this will be the last interchange the two of you have about his grand business idea, and if it’s not, hey, maybe you could become a consultant. No harm, no foul.

Example of Response:

“Hi, Uncle Mike. I’ve seen your landscaping work. It’s pretty impressive. So, how would this work, exactly? Would you accompany me on jobs, survey landscaping deficits, and pitch a project to the client? Would you pitch on the spot or come back with a more thorough review? Would we offer a discount if the client takes both of us on for our respective projects? The way I see it now is that your plan needs more structure; otherwise, most people won’t be comfortable buying in. I’m intrigued to see where this goes. I am going to go get another drink (even if they are awful, you need another one). See you around!”

 

Thanksgiving 2021 Blog_Grandma Beth

Grandma Beth: “Is it nice to be able to work whenever you want?”

At the drink station, you are ambushed by none other than Grammie Beth. Beneath the twinkling eyes and seemingly innocent question of “Is it nice to be able to work whenever you want?” lies a more critical meaning. What she means is, “Must be nice not to work that many hours in a day. I worked two jobs to support my family.” Let her belittling tone roll off your shoulders, though. Set her straight by reviewing your true work schedule for your growing business. 

Example Response:working-the-work-dont-stop

“Hi, Grams. Sure, there are benefits to crafting my own schedule. But, my 10-15 hour workdays are long, so “whenever I want to work '' is pretty much all the time. My business is growing, and fast. Thanks for the pow-wow, but I need to use the restroom. Excuse me.”

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2021 Blog_Aunt Charlotte

Aunt Charlotte: “So, you get paid for playing on the computer all day?”

As you wait for the bathroom to become available, Aunt Charlotte approaches and stands in line behind you. Coach Crackle whispers in your earpiece, “There’s a bogie right behind you. She’s a nurse, on her feet all day, and critical of any job with a computer element. Be prepared for the “play on the computer” question. And, don’t worry, the bathroom is almost empty. Salvation lies ahead. Simply relate your experience to one that you know your aunt respects and voila, instant get-out-of-conversation-free card!”

Example Response: giphy (1)

“Man, Grandpa Joe is hung up on how I spend my mornings. He’s telling everyone about it, huh? Listen, Aunt Charlotte, I know you use social media to set up GoFundMe pages for some of your patients. I essentially do the same thing when I use Facebook or Google; only my goal is to set up ad campaigns to market my business and help it flourish. I guess you could say we both “play on the computer” for work. The bathroom door opens, and you dive in — safe at last!

 

Thanksgiving 2021 Blog_Aunt Maureen

Aunt Maureen: “Can I Borrow Money?”

Aunt Maureen grabs your elbow as you step back outside after using the restroom and pulls you off to the side of the yard for a discreet conversation. Uncle Ted told Aunt Maureen all about what exactly you do, including that “business is great.” But, everyone knows Aunt Maureen and Uncle Ted are in dire straits financially, and this is what she plans to talk to you about. She wants yourparks-and-rrec-money-please hard-earned moolah, and you need to give her a hard-as-granite “nope.” Focus on how your money reinforces your business, and you will be in the clear.

Example Response:

“Aunt Susan, I can empathize with your current financial situation and understand how it makes life difficult. But, my life is wrapped up in making sure my handyman business succeeds, and right now, all the money I’m making is going right back into it. I don’t have any money to spare and can’t spare another moment either. It’s time for me to head out; I have a painting job in about an hour. Good seeing you and good luck.” (Before she resorts to begging, turn around and head towards the exit — can you see the light!?)

 

Thanksgiving 2021 Blog_Cousin Laurel (1)

Cousin Laurel: “Don’t you need more experience or education to do that job?"

Oh no, a surprise attack! Cousin Laurel sees you as you are walking to your car and pelts one last invasive question at you. She inquires about your experience or education concerning your ability to do your job. Don’t let Cousin Laurel, currently unemployed, by the way, make you doubt your business venture. Education and experience are good foundations, but personal drive and hard work are what will build your business — that and satisfied customers. You need to say as much to your familial interrogator.

Example Response:

“Oh, hi, Laurel. I have steady work each day, I’m making enough money to provide for my family, and my clients are satisfied, so I’d say my experience and education are enough. In fact, I just completed a deck repair on your friend’s house. You know Tammy, right? Maybe give her a ring and hear what she has to say about my work. See you later! I gotta run.” (Now, actually, run to your car.)

 

Back to the Car:

Coach Crackle sits up from under a coat in the backseat, bursting with pride and a rumbling belly.

“Great job! Now, where’s my plate of food? I don’t just go riding around family dinners with strange men for nothing.”

 

Crackle Marketing: Want Free Spy Gadgets?

Okay, so we are currently out of spy gizmos to give away, but we have expert advice that we would love to send your way. At Crackle Marketing, we value theseinfeld-turkey underdogs, and sometimes no one can make you feel more like an underdog than your own family. So, this year, let’s have something awesome to share at the dinner table. Let’s get that business, passion project, side hustle, or latent dream out from the shadows and ready for primetime. You are just one step, or one click, away from unlocking your business’s full potential. Seize the moment. Hear the crackle.

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Drew Donaldson

Drew Donaldson

Drew is a partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Crackle Marketing. Coming from a long line of entrepreneurs and small business owners, Drew has followed in those footsteps, building several small businesses, including a software company, mobile notary service, marketing consultancy, and a media production and design studio. Drew is a regular speaker on the marketing and technology circuit and can often be heard as a guest on entrepreneurial and small business-centric podcasts. In his free time, Drew enjoys spending time with his wife, renovating his victorian era home, and brewing beer and mead in his basement.