The holidays are here! If you’re a business owner, it may seem overwhelming to take time off and especially as you brace yourself to interact with people you don’t see the majority of the year. Many of them don’t understand why—or how—you left your last job to venture out into the world as an entrepreneur. We get it.
We know what it’s like to explain to your great uncle that your accounting papers are not only digital, but they live in the cloud. Our advice? Practice your business elevator pitch, you’re inevitably going to explain what you do again, and again, and again. We’ve compiled a list of questions we are asked and you might encounter over the next few weeks, too along with helpful answer prompts.
Will you hire cousin Bobby? He’s really good at TikTok!
You don’t need to hire your cousin. It is okay to tell your relatives “no” if you don’t want to hire them.
What is this Bitcoin thing all about?
It’s okay if you can’t explain Bitcoin. It’s a currency that lives in the cloud and doesn’t need a centralized bank to be transferred.
How is your “hobby” going?
Repeat after us: “My job isn’t a hobby, I run payroll and have employees.” Not being a hobby doesn’t mean your job isn’t fun, either.
Why’d you quit your real job?
Repeat after us, again: “My job is a real job.”
Can you introduce me to Tim Cook?
No, I don’t know Tim Cook and I also can’t introduce you to Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos but I do wish we were all friends.
So, you work from home?
I work from home but that doesn’t mean I wear my pajamas all day. Sometimes I do though and that’s okay.
So-and-so’s daughter has a really good job.
You have a good job, too.
Do you do something with advertising?
Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. This is a great opportunity to give them your elevator pitch.
Make sure you don’t do anything stupid.
This is actually sound business advice—you don’t want to anger the IRS. Be sure to say thank you.
You work with computers, right?
You probably do work with a computer whether you’re using it as a point-of-sale system or to do your accounting. If your role doesn’t directly require you to use a computer, it’s okay to take the easy route and tell them you don’t work with computers. Here’s another great opportunity for you to practice your elevator pitch.
Where is “the Cloud?”
If you find yourself at square one explaining the cloud, here’s a very simple rundown. The cloud is a fancy term for the internet. Putting things in there means your data is stored in your own little corner of the internet and you can retrieve it from anywhere, just like you can access websites from anywhere.
So, is your office full of ping pong tables?
Whether or not you have a ping pong table in your office, you can tactfully change the subject by responding with the amount of other things you have in your office that are more important to you. Maybe you have seven whiteboards or 20 employees and you’d prefer to talk about them. Those are exciting subjects—bring them up!
What’s the difference between you and your main competitor?
You can give them your elevator pitch and test your knowledge of what your competition has been up to recently here. You might get some business advice here. Be sure you’re ready to accept it or turn it down politely.
Are you hiring social media people?
You can give an honest answer here but it’s also okay not to talk about your growth or future business plans. If you are hiring social media people, congratulations!
Do you work with those influencers online?
Most companies can’t afford to use influencers to promote themselves or their products. If you think stating this might bring up questions about your business decisions, it’s best to give a simple “no” and let them know influencers are not typically worth it for businesses of your size and scale.
I just found this show Silicon Valley and really like it. Is this how you operate, too?
Not every startup is like Silicon Valley but we bet there are some that used to operate like Pied Piper.
Does your company need money?
If you aren’t in the market for investors, don’t hesitate to tell your family that you don’t need investors right now. You can graciously tell them you’ll circulate your pitch deck when you’re ready to accept investment but don’t forget to follow up with them.
Can we get a friends-and-family discount?
Don’t feel like you have to give your friends and family a discount on your services or products. It is okay if you do or don’t, but make sure you’re a savvy discounter first.
I heard on the news that millennials are spending seven dollars on lattes every day. You’re not doing that, are you?
We happen to like $7 lattes and think it’s okay to treat yourself.
Can you get anything done when there are pets in your office?
Yes, keeping your furry friends nearby can help keep the whole team happier and less stressed. It’s okay if you don’t have pets at your office, too. Some office buildings don’t allow for this perk.
What’s a “SaaS” do?
SaaS stands for “Software as a Service.” SaaS businesses offer their software in a subscription format. Compare it to Netflix, if they’re familiar with it.
How does your job relate to your degree?
The landscape of education is changing constantly and it’s quite normal for your degree to not be reflected in the role you’ve chosen or the company you’re building.
So, are you making money yet?
There are many ways to measure the health of your business, and while profit may be one of them, it is not the only one. If you aren’t comfortable speaking with your family about the profitability of your company, you can also share other metrics you’re tracking in your business.
Can you fix the printer?
Maybe you can do this and maybe you can’t, but—whatever you do—make sure you start by rebooting it.
What is machine learning? Are you putting your robots through school?
Robots learn through repetition so, they don’t go to school like the rest of us but they are put through a rigorous learning process without the benefits of recess or kickball with their friends.
Can you fix—or set up—our wifi?
If you can do this on your own, congratulations! If not, keep in mind during the holidays when many folks are receiving tech gifts and anxiously trying to set them up the wait times for phone support can get long. Google might be your best solution for steps to fix or set up the wifi.
Are you sure you don’t need money?
No, Grandma, really. We aren’t looking for investors right now. You can put your checkbook away.
Does working at a startup mean you work at a coffee shop all day?
The coffee shop probably isn’t your office, but they typically have good wifi—and those $7 lattes we love.
You bought a desk and moved it into a coworking space?
Renting desks at a coworking space is normal as businesses are growing and especially for businesses keeping an eye on costs.
What’s going on with WeWork, anyway?
Unless you’ve been following the story really closely and know what’s up with WeWork, it’s best to be honest here. “I don’t know what happened” is a perfectly acceptable response.
What do you mean you don’t have an entire finance team? Who runs your books for you?
That’s not how we handle accounting and finance, anymore. ScaleFactor makes sure of it.
How are you able to work from your laptop and travel?
We put everything in the cloud these days. It makes working on the move a breeze.
I remember when I first learned how to read a P&L. Do you know how we used to do these?
Reading a P&L doesn’t need to be intimidating. You also probably won’t benefit from knowing how they used to be created. However, the lesson might take a while so opt-in if you’re looking to kill some time.
Have you created a company TikTok account yet?
Corporate TikTok accounts haven’t quite hit the stage, yet. Be ready to be firm about not hiring Cousin Bobby to create one for you.
Is your dog the head of finance?
We like to call them all Chief Barking Officers, but brainstorming titles with family might be a fun game to play together.
Explain to me again what you actually do for work?
Business owners work hard growing their dreams. This is another great opportunity to use your elevator pitch and share your dream with your family. What you do is rewarding and you should be excited to share it.
Got any questions you’re prepped for that you’d like to see added to this list? Tweet them at us! We’d love to hear them, add them, and credit you in them.