Our Business Dreams Have Been Altered

By Dr. Robert Wallace

March 19, 2021 6 min read

DR. WALLACE: My friend and I are both 18 years old (soon to be 19!), and we graduated together from the same high school last year, even though we did not get to have a graduation ceremony.

We ended up deciding to go to two different universities that are not too far away from each other geographically, but we made mutual promises to remain in close contact, and when our four years of college are up, we have a goal to start a business together. We've always had a lot of things in common, and one of them is a desire to help others in our state by starting our own job service business together. By job service, we mean that we plan to help others develop job skills to find the career path that best suits them. We want to help them prepare to succeed in their chosen field. For some, that means attending vocational schools, and for others, it may mean competing for choice corporate jobs. For a few, it means how to potentially become successful entrepreneurs.

Well, my personal plans changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and I did not end up going away to college after all. I signed up and began taking classes online, but I had to quit when I had to get a job to help out my family.

I feel like I let my friend down and that we will now never get to have our dream business together. Should I tell my friend to forget about our business plans and get into business with someone else? No matter what, I will now be at least a year or two behind her if I ever do get to go to college someday myself. — Forlorn Friend, via email

FORLORN FRIEND: Starting a business with your friend can absolutely still potentially be done someday and might yet become one of the greatest experiences of your life. Keep in touch with your friend, and keep your options open, since neither one of you knows yet what the future will hold three or four years from now.

Also realize that attending college is not a prerequisite for starting a small business! Yes, there are things you can learn by attending a four-year university that may prove helpful in starting a small business, but those skills can be learned in other places as well.

Starting any small business is not a decision to take lightly. You will often spend more time with your business partner than you will with your own family, so choose this partner wisely. The friend you mentioned may indeed be an outstanding potential partner for you in several years, but it's also possible that the two of you will have grown apart in terms of your business goals, ideas and dreams.

A good friend does not always necessarily equal a good business partner. COVID-19 may have caused a delay to your plans, but you can still potentially accomplish them. I suggest that you take some time this summer and then each summer to follow for the next few years to discuss your delay and your overall business dreams with your friend to keep the door open between the two of you to the extent it still remains feasible and viable for each of you.


DR. WALLACE: Last year, my husband-to-be and I got engaged, and this year, we are planning a wedding, so this obviously has us both pretty excited about our future.

We've discussed registering at a few stores, as our wedding party planner has suggested to us, but we've now actually decided after a long, heartfelt discussion that we would truly prefer cash gifts instead of a typical gift registry at a department store. Now my question is: How do we diplomatically ask for cash instead of a "traditional" gift? — Cash Couple, via email

CASH COUPLE: You seem to have given this topic a lot of good thought, and therefore, I can agree with your logic in deciding to go this route.

And the best advice is to be honest and direct. Let those of you who will be attending your wedding know about your preference, and do give them a brief explanation as to why you would prefer to go this route. Perhaps it is because you already have many of the typical household items that would be given as gifts? Perhaps it might be because you're saving up for a special vacation? Perhaps it might be because you're saving up to buy some special furniture or maybe a down payment on a future home? Whatever your reasons might be, state them politely and directly. Do encourage your guests to only give what they would typically have planned to have spent on a wedding gift from a store, and even go so far as to say that no cash gift is required, since their presence at your wedding will be the best gift of all!

Of course, most attendees will honor your request with a cash gift — or a check written out to your new names!

Do be certain to immediately send out hand-signed thank-you notes to all who contribute to your new life together. I send you my best wishes for your new life together!

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: Takmeomeo at Pixabay

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