So, let me guess, you’re here because your friend suddenly started their own business or jumped aboard the MLM train and suddenly they have no time, no chill, and no respect for your Facebook feed which is now being bombarded by their slew of motivational quotes and selfies with their latest paycheck.
It’s easy to feel frustrated by their persistence in sales and unwavering enthusiasm but HOLD UP FAM! Why exactly do we get our feathers so ruffled by our friend’s new endeavor? It’s easy to roll your eyes at the cheesy posts, but you have no idea what it’s like on the other side. Sure, your friend might be excited to give all the details of their latest project or earnings, but that’s simply the highlight reel, and I can tell you from being a business owner, especially one that’s in the early stages, that there are still slow days, times when I question if I made the right choice, and hours staying up at night working on projects and marketing ideas that may or may not pay off. Sure we want to inspire others, but we have to keep ourselves inspired as well. Being a business owner is HARD. We need all of the motivation and positive thinking we can muster to carry us through the days when it’s so easy to throw in the towel.
And guess what? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to invest in your friend’s service or product to be supportive! There are plenty of other ways that you can help your friend stay sane and motivated as they journey down the path less traveled. I have compiled a handy dandy little list of the top 5 ways you can support your friend and the best part is it won’t cost you a cent!
1. Be supportive! Don’t throw metaphorical verbal stones at them from your paved road as they’re trying to trample through unmarked territory. In english, don’t poke fun of or be passive aggressive about their business. Don’t tell them what their prices should be, don’t tell them they’re crazy, don’t tell them that you hate their products, just don’t be negative. Keep those thoughts to yourself if you have them and try to focus on something you can appreciate about their efforts instead. You can be supportive of your friend’s guts to take on running a business, their persistence when things don’t always go right, their ability to make genuine connections with their potential clients, whatever it may be. Remember, you may get tired of their advertising on your social media, but there’s still a living and breathing human behind those posts, one who is probably still learning how to market, so be patient and be kind. Let your friend know you love them and that you have their back. Some of my friends will tell me that they’re proud of me and that little remark just makes me so happy because people don’t usually notice all of the behind the scenes effort that goes into maintaining the business.
2. Don’t ask for free services or product. Don’t ask for discounts because you’re a friend or in exchange for exposure. You might be looking for a good deal, but none of these proposals will help pay your friend’s bills or put food on their table. All it really does is put them in an extremely awkward situation of having to formulate a response to gently turn you down without causing any tension. If you’ve already made this mistake, then expect them to tell you no and don’t take it personally when they do. We have to keep our prices consistent to be fair to our paying clients. You don’t go to a fancy steak house and ask for free steak in exchange for telling your friends about them, or because you know one of the waiters. It just doesn’t work that way and your friend’s business is no exception. If you respect their business, you’re better off supporting them by either fully paying them for their service as a typical customer would, or choosing one of the other ways that I’ve written here. If you also have a small business, you could always offer a trade of services, but again, don't be offended if the answer is no.
3. Be their little networking ninja minion. If you like what they do, you support their mission, and there’s an opportunity to let others know about what your friend offers, seize it!! If you meet someone or you see someone searching on Facebook who is looking for a service that fits within your friends expertise, give them your friend’s contact info, and tell people what you like about the service and what makes them unique. For example, I recently worked with Vanessa from Hahn Design Studio. She’s in the process of helping me with my website SEO, and not only do I appreciate her as a person, but I’m also continuously impressed by her knowledge and her willingness to explain step by step what needs to be done in a way that I understand. (I am not tech savvy.) I’ve told three people in the last 3 days about her service because they were looking for website help…. on a side note, do you see how I just subtly advertised for my friend? Hehe I’m sneaky! But! You can do that too! This is the most valuable way you can help their business, even more so than buying their product, because it’s something you can do continuously and it takes little effort. The majority of us small business owners rely on word of mouth to spread the word about what we offer. Just imagine if each of my Facebook friends took a moment to tell one person about me this week. There would be hundreds of new people who now know who I am! That’s basically celebrity status around these parts.
^^ Rare footage of me telling everyone (including inanimate objects) about my favorite businesses. :p
4. Write a review! Chances are your friend has a place for you to write something positive about their business, if they don't you could simply write an appreciation post and share it to their Facebook timeline. (Would you be interested in learning how to write a killer review? That may just be my next blog post, now that I think about it!) If you’ve worked with them before then take 5 minutes out of your day to write a little something about how they helped you. Not only will it boost their reach, but other potential clients will now be able to read about what makes your friend’s business stand out.
5. Be a soundboard! If they want to talk about their business constantly, let them because chances are they listen to you when you geek out about whatever your latest Netflix favorite is. Be there for them when they’re trying to solve a problem or work something out, or nervous about a new business opportunity. When I had (good/excited) nerves over a business related phone call, someone who I least expected to be there for me actually ended up being the person that helped me handle it, and even though I had a few good friends that were waiting to hear how things went, he was the first person I called to tell how everything went down. Little things like listening and offering constructive opinions (when asked) are greatly appreciated. And sometimes, we just need someone to listen and we end up solving our problems just by expressing them verbally to someone instead of trying to deal with them all jumbled up in our minds.
And there you have it! All of these things are super duper easy and your friend will love you for doing them! If you yourself are a small business owner, then I hope you found some of this relatable! I love you and I’m with you, and feel free to share this article if it will help you verbalize how you’d like to be supported!
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