I’ve been on both sides of this dime. I’ve been the business owner and I’ve been the friend. I’ve been supported by some and not by others…I’ve supported some and not others. As in I haven’t purchased all of my friends goods or services they offer. This is all about how to support your friends’ small businesses without buying anything. Because sometimes we just need to know someone is there.
Being a small (more like microscopic) business owner I could write a post on all the set backs, tears, doubts, times I was DONE, and utter exhaustion. Maybe I will one day, but not today. Having been in direct sales for 12 years, 9 of which have been with the same company, it’s hard enough building a business that has million dollar marketing departments backing them, let alone trying to build a brand from scratch. This is where you need your support system. Your friends and family, who may think you are completely insane yet are willing to stand behind you and support you. I’d love to tell you, our entire group of friends and family firm stands behind us…but I don’t like to lie. What I will tell you is that the ones that do…well, their love and support and relentless encouragement is what makes the difference on a daily basis. I can also tell you that most people, including our family and friends really have no idea the best way to support not just our small business but their friends and other family members. I’d like to let you in on some little secrets…
You’re friend just took the biggest leap of their life.
Whether they joined a direct sales company for $100 or sold their house and all their belongings (or rolled jugs of change…may know some people who did that 😉 ) to bring their vision to life, you owe it to them to support them. It takes a lot of guts to take a chance on yourself. You don’t have to understand it, like it, or need it – but you do have to love them and support them.
A friend of mine sent me one of those cute pictures with Kermit the Frog that said, “I got a new job!” 352 likes, 82 comments, 6 shares. “I started my own business!” 6 likes, 1 comment, 0 shares. Both being entrepreneurs, we had a good chuckle over it. But it’s soooo true!
Through my own experience and working with so many other entrepreneurs through the years I can tell you the thing we need most is support. As in encouragement, love and insight. And we need it from the people who matter to us most, our friends and family. I also realized that if we don’t tell them how, they won’t know because they aren’t on this side of the dime. So here are a few tips that will make your friends feel really great and also help their business.
- Engage with them. If it is a business that has a presence on social media, engage with their business there. Like their business page and posts. Comment if you read it and like it, sometimes that gets us through a rough patch in our day. Share a post especially if it’s just an inspirational thing…it makes a huge difference to the social media gurus that people are engaging with us.
- If they have a website with a news letter, subscribe to it. Make a new email for that purpose only, then when you get time you can look through and read them. Again, engage with them there, forward it to a friend or two who may benefit from what they have to say. I have several friends who have brick and mortar businesses as well as blogs and direct sales businesses and I love to read their newsletters full of info on home renovations, landscaping, car maintenance, fashion advice. Even if you don’t need their goods or services you never know who else may. Pass it on.
- For a direct sales business ask your friend what their goal is and encourage them along the way. Check in via text and just say, “thinking about you, I know how hard you’re working!” It may seem silly, but it really makes a difference.
- Ask them for some business cards that you can sprinkle around town for them. Most start up companies don’t have a full blown marketing department. They do usually have some kind of paper marketing material. If you have some of if, how hard is it to leave a few behind when doing your regular errands on the other side of town. Doing it all is exhausting (I know first hand), and most people won’t ask for help (I also know that first hand).
- If they have an on-line business or blog be sure to engage on their site. Leave a comment on a blog post or recipe in the comment section. Leave a review on a product or service they provide. Even if you haven’t purchased it….you don’t have to lie…you can say, “I’ve seen this product in person and think it’s a well crafted product.” or “this is an amazing idea, I can’t wait to try this service in the near future.” or “this would make a super cute gift.” It makes on-line only business owners know people are seeing what they are doing, and gives their customers something positive to see -that is always a big deal but especially for a small businesses.
Be upfront with your friends when they start a new business. Let them know how excited you are for them and how much success you hope comes their way. Tell your friend upfront how you hope to support them. Everyone I know would rather know than be kept guessing. Honesty is the best policy. Something simple like, “I am so excited for you. This product isn’t something I am in need of at this time, but I’d love to support you by engaging on your social media posts for you.” or “What an awesome service you are providing, I’m not in need of it now but would be happy to leave some fliers at my post office for you.” or “I think this is such a great fit for you, how can I pray for you during your journey?” I think you and your friend will be blessed by the positive interactions.
So go, support your friends small business…answer those messages with confidence asking you to try the latest and greatest with a ‘thanks for thinking of me…’ and take on the opportunity to contribute to someone’s success in a positive way. You never know, you may be encouraging the next Bill Gates, Chip & Joanna Gains or Mary Kay Ash.
How do you like to be supported in your small business? As a friend, how do you like to support your friend’s small business, we love new ideas and thoughts, please share them with us!