Your Business Support Do's and Don'ts

Starting a company is an exceedingly difficult thing to do. Running a very early stage startup is, if possible, even harder! And when the going gets tough we expect our friends to be there to support us in our new venture. So what do we do when they don’t?

1. Don’t Take It Personally.
If you haven’t felt the outpouring of support you expected from your friends, don’t “break up” with them just yet. The “rejection” you feel is not necessarily personal.
“They either: 1. Intended to show support and haven’t gotten around to it, 2. Don’t agree with something about your company but don’t want to tell you, or 3. Said yes out of obligation,” said Jovena Whatmoor, owner of Clutch Talent. “All of these likely come from a good place.”
As the company founder, it’s your job to figure out why your friends are hesitating to help you. There is a good chance that whatever is keeping your closest friends from buying, using or shouting about your product from the rooftops will also keep potential customers hesitant and confused.
Create a space where your friends can share with you openly and honestly what it is about your business that doesn’t sit right with them and brainstorm with them about the best way to fix the problem. It will ultimately bring you closer together and be a great way to spend time with them while including them in your new venture.
2. Tell Your Friends Exactly How They Can Support You
The most common reason our friends fail to support us in our ventures is often surprisingly simple: they are busy and don’t know what they can actually do! Remember that they have no idea what it’s like to be in your shoes and there is no  ”Handbook for Helping a Startup Founder”
“Support comes in many forms. Everyone has things going on in their lives and you may not be aware of issues that have come up,” said Amy Vernon, digital media and content consultant, Amy Vernon LLC. “Just because someone hasn’t supported your business in the way you had hoped doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is not your friend.”
Next time, try to make your asks small, clear and actionable like, “please post this Tweet I have pre­written for you,” or “please forward this short email to your friends who are lawyers” rather than saying “promote me on social media” or “I’m looking for a lawyer.”
If they say “no” or just don’t do it, this can also become a great starting point for the conversation about “why not.” Do they feel your message isn’t right for their audience? Or maybe they are swamped in their own work or personal life and you had no idea. The key is to make this conversation about discussing sincere feedback without judgement or “friend guilt” and asking the right questions to understand what your friend feels comfortable contributing and what feels like “too much” or “not right.”
3. Make New Business Friends
Is that BFF you were roommates with in college totally convinced that since you work for yourself you must be taking naps and hanging out in coffee shops? Maybe it’s time for some new friends.
“When we started Monarq, almost all our friends still had traditional jobs so we went to two startup and tech events every weeknight for months. The inspiring people we met at those events are the reason we have been able to go from a blank slate to a live app and a community in such a short time. A year later we are happy to call many of these amazing startup founders and investors our friends. ” ­ — Irene Ryabaya & Diana Murakhovskaya, co­founders of Monarq.
 The reality is, not all friends will be able to support you in every aspect of your life, but that’s ok! Having friends who are also startup founders means having people behind you who understand where you’re coming from, what you’re trying to achieve and just how hard it is to do what you are doing. Even the most well-meaning friend will never be able to understand the pressures, anxieties and victories, small and large, of owning your own business if they’ve never actually done it.
4. Ask “What Can I Do For YOU?”
Sometimes you need to turn the tables and put yourself in your friend’s shoes. Are they stressed out too? Are they overwhelmed and need your help? Before asking for support, or feeling disappointed when a friend isn’t quick to respond, try asking them what you can do to help them first!
“Successful people always ask ‘What can I do for you?’ With old friends and new, build and maintain real meaningful relationships rather than demanding immediate transactional favors.” — Irene Ryabaya & Diana Murakhovskaya co­founders of Monarq.
Often we find that people are confused when offered help rather than being asked for it ­ that’s how rarely this happens! Your friends are going to be much more likely to support you when they feel you’ve been there for them.
5. Know When To Move On
When all else fails, it may be time to accept that some friends aren’t as close now as they once were. It’s natural for friends to grow apart and, in some cases, it may be best to accept it quickly so you can, save your limited energy and move forward ­ live and learn!
“It’s been a real learning experience to see who has supported our business and who hasn’t — and I think it has opened my eyes to who my true friends are,” said Gianne Doherty co­founder of Organic Bath Co.
When the people you were once close to are no longer there for you, it’s time to meet new people who understand what you’re going through.
Friendship and support are vital. Both in business and in life, having people with whom you can celebrate the victories and mourn the defeats is what makes life meaningful. Whether you’re building a lifestyle business or the next tech unicorn, make sure to surround yourself with the kind of people who will build you up every step of the way.
Does everyone you know own a business?
It feels that way sometimes. Are you wondering how to support your friends’ businesses without going broke? It’s pretty amazing that modern technology gives small businesses a platform that was essentially science fiction when our parents and grandparents were running and marketing their businesses. It’s a great thing! On the flip side, how are you {as a consumer} able to support your friends’ businesses {all 897 of them}? It’s great to support your friends’ businesses, but also…? You don’t want to leave your bank account begging for mercy by doing so. I have some good words for your wallet here…
Your friends don’t necessarily want your money {or pity purchases}
Ok, making a purchase from time to time would be nice, but there are other ways you can support your friends’ businesses without making your credit card cringe. After-all, if you aren’t interested in what your friends are selling there’s no reason to buy it. You’re wasting your money and wasting your friends’ intentions. Be up front with your business-owning buds and tell them how you can, indeed, support them if you’re not buying. Your friends want your support, for sure, but showing support goes far beyond monetary contributions. Let’s break it down and peel off the guilt and pity purchases once and for all, shall we?
Support your friends’ businesses via social media
Stop, Drop, and Share – chances are your friends are promoting their businesses via social media {if they aren’t, they should!}. Any business trying to gain presence online has to deal with a nasty a-word called, “algorithms”. Algorithms determine what end-users see on news feeds. Business owners compete to be seen. However, you can help us get ahead in the competition (for free!). Every time you slow your scroll and give our business page posts a comment, like, reaction, or share – we’re getting noticed! You’re helping us boost visibility because your engagement basically says to Facebook “I vote for this one!” Your business-owning friends will thank you!!! That kind of support means so much as social media is ever-changing and hard to stay on top of. So, remember… stop drop and share to support your friends’ businesses!
Join Us Live – hop on your friends’ live videos and be a participant. This costs you all of $0 and will give your BFFs a boost of confidence as they “sell” their brand to the world! Live video can be intimidating {especially to a silent room}, so engage with your friends on live. Repeat key points. Ask questions. Respond to questions. Get the crowd going. This is a simple thing to do and requires only a minimal investment of your time. Even if you can’t catch the live video, go back and comment on the replay.
Support your friends’ businesses via web traffic
Help Tame the SEO Monsters – When you read blogs, spend time on your friends’ sites, click around, and generate activity it causes a SEO {Search Engine Optimization} response that helps us. If no one comes to our site, it tells Google that we smell like rotten eggs. If we have activity, Google will know and will tell other’s that we are the big kahuna…or something of that sort.
Owning a business sounds like a dream come true, right?
Offer Emotional Support – Not always… and in some seasons, not near enough. Business owners end up being editors, customer service reps, janitors, therapists, referees, deal-makers and deal-breakers, and so much more. While we are so stinking busy, sometimes we are equally as lonely. Sometimes solopreneurship hits hard and we feel like we’re riding solo. We appreciate your support! We appreciate it when you tell your friends about our businesses. We appreciate it when you point out our typos and tell us about broken links on our site. It’s really a lot to keep up with and even if you are over-extended and can’t shop with us – we appreciate your support in many other ways. Just let us know! Set the boundaries, let us know how you can support and our business in other ways besides spending.
This by far is the easiest. If you see a post on social media with someone’s product or service click the like or heart icon. This simple acts allows other you’re connected with to discover the business.
By sharing or reposting a social media post you further help spread the word about someone’s business. Now other people you’re connected to will be able to discover a product they’ve been looking for.
By following someone’s business on social media you help them get more exposure. You’ll also be able to readily see their content so you can like or share it.
Comments are huge. Did you know that Instagram will rank someone’s picture higher if they have several multi word comments under a photo? Take a quick second to say something.
If there is a way to rate a business on any platform take the time to do it. If it’s a physical location rate them on those places like Google Maps or Yelp. If it’s a podcast rate them on iTunes. Better yet, if you love what they’re doing offer to give them a testimonial for their website.
When you’re out and hear someone talking about a topic similar to the business of your friend/family be sure to mention their business. Spreading the word can be as simple as mentioning the business name and encouraging them to Google the company to find out more information.
If you like the product, buy it! What better way to say you believe in the product. Try not to get freebies. That can sometimes devalue what someone is doing.
Sometimes business owners just need a helping hand. Be there for them if they need you to help make something, man the booth, or help plan/host an event. That can really help someone who is just starting out or overwhelmed. Also, don’t expect payment if you’re doing it out the kindness of your heart.
If your friend/family is having an event, class, being awarded or are part of a show try to be there for them. Show up and participate in the event.
This is HUGE. You might be tempted to say this is a bad idea or you shouldn’t be doing this, but remember sometimes people just need your encouragement to succeed. Just because it’s not a choice you would make, doesn’t make it a bad choice.

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