This is our very first blog post and we wanted to provide three (3) easy ways that YOU can use immediately, in order to support your fellow entrepreneurs! Or, how you as an entrepreneur can welcome support from family and friends!
Let’s first look at some reasons why some people feel they DON’T/CAN’T support
- Do you know what your entrepreneurial friend does? Are you in their target market? (We are basically asking, do you see yourself as their ideal customer?) For instance, Alice sells aerosol room fresheners, but you (Derek) have really bad asthma. You try to stay away from spray products and prefer to use oils/candles to freshen your home. You don’t see yourself as someone that can whole-heartedly purchase from her company. If you are like Derek, and has a friend that has started a business, but you are not sure how to help, because you are not in their target market, then keep reading.
- Does your entrepreneurial friend provide a service in a city you are NOT located in? This seems more obvious, but is often overlooked. Sometimes, our friends and associates offer a service, such as lawn care or an internet provider service, out of reach. How could you possibly get your lawn serviced or use their internet when your home is located 4000 miles away? YOU DON’T! If you can identify with the situation above, keep reading! Or just skip to the 3 steps towards the bottom to do something today!
- Can you afford to help finance your entrepreneurial friend? Most people do not even want to get involved in these type of situations, due to the unknown risk involved. They rather just sit on the sidelines and not invest their hard earned money. AND THAT IS OK! You can still support them in other ways!
- Ok, now, some people simply do not support because they do not understand “how to support”. You as the entrepreneur, failed to tell them what they “can” do to support you. There is an easy fix to these common problems. Below are the 3 steps (you as the entrepreneur) or (friend of the entrepreneur) can take in order to create a supportive environment or encouraging team.
Communicate AND work hard
To the Entrepreneur: You must work hard! There is really no other way to put it. NO ONE wants to support ideas or something that is never brought to fruition. If a single person does not support you, it will be hard, but you MUST believe in what you are trying to accomplish. Whole-heartedly and organically. Try communicating to others “exactly what you are trying to accomplish” and don’t be discouraged because they don’t seem interested! Chances are, they are not interested OR they do not understand. Communicate your goals, mission statement, vision statement, and your plans for the year. When you do this, those people can “follow up” or offer some assistance with what you have discussed.
Do not shut out people and forget the reason why you are starting a business or have started one. If your friend/family members are just not interested, try another approach. Become your own brand ambassador! When someone asks “How are You?” use that time to give them a little insight on what you are up to. They may not be interested in your ideas, but if they love and care about you, hearing about your business should not make them yawn! But hey, it is YOUR passion. Just get them excited do so with a smile on your face!
To the Friend/Family: Communication begins with simple questions/statements. You can ask/say
1. How is everything going with *Insert Business Name* (Prepare to have a conversation)
2. I don’t understand exactly what you are doing, but have you accomplished any of your goals for the year? I just want to hear about your progression and offer any moral support I can.
3. I am proud of you. Keep pushing! (Note: You must understand the business at least a little bit, in order to tell the person to keep pushing. If they are constantly losing money and the business does not make sense, encourage them to seek help or find a mentor that can actually assist with financial advice.
4. Sometimes, communication is all about listening! Just offer some ears.
It is perfectly OK to do nothing! Do not feel bad because you simply do not want to be involved in their business. Again, if they are your family member or friend, make them understand that you are rooting for them on the sidelines! Wish them nothing but the best and offer to connect “others” you may know in their field or who could help their start-up journey. THERE MAY BE ONLY ONE CHANCE TO CONNECT OR USE WORD OF MOUTH TO MENTION WHAT YOUR FAMILY/FRIEND IS DOING. USE IT! DON’T SHY AWAY. This is a form of support. Offering their business as a recommendation or suggestion will immediately be appreciated by the entrepreneur just because you thought of them.
Remember some of the reasons we listed as to why “some people don’t/can’t support”? If ANY of those reasons struck some chords with you, then communicate that to your entrepreneurial friend. Help them understand you do not mean any harm and THEY CAN STOP WITH THE RUN ON STATEMENTS SAYING ‘If you do not support me then you can watch me work cause i’m about money” or “how come we don’t support each other i support everybody”. Encourage them find their target markets and build their brand organically.
2. Have a desire to Listen
Listening is important. I cannot stress this enough. When your entrepreneurial friend/family has an idea, sometimes they just you want you to LISTEN. Offer your ears and hear what they have to say. If you do not have the time to give them your full attention, make that clear and decide on a time you can call them back. Chances are, if they are calling you in the first place, they value your advice. Do not confuse advice or “telling them how you feel” as constructive criticism. If you need time to think on what they just told you, follow the 3rd step below, in order to appropriately give your criticisms in a manner they will respond.
3. Give/Accept Constructive Criticisms
To Entrepreneurs: AHHHHHHHHH, constructive criticisms! Are you strong enough to hear what your family or friends have to say about your ideas? Or your current business? Is it backed by facts? Your past experiences? Failures? or are their criticisms simple a matter of opinion? Figure out what the criticisms are based upon and decide to respond accordingly. Your friend/family member may really have something for you to consider based on
1. Their own experiences
2. Their own failures
3. Others they may know
4. Facts written in a study, journal, publication, article etc.
Take that criticism and think on it. Do not try to “always” have an answer or “rebuttal” to what they are saying. They will think you are not open to their ideas/facts or you simply “already know everything!”, so why waste time. Be open to other’s ideas and always expect feedback. Do not accept “I just do not like idea, I do not know why” from others. ENGAGE in conversations that are important to you and find a way, the best you can, to LISTEN.
To friends/Family members: Be objective! Unless you are asked to give your “opinion”, be specific in what you say. If allowed, offer to read over their business plan. You can really tell who is serious about their business and who is not. Bakemoore’s business plan changes a lot. We are always adding new information, unforeseen cost, updated financial projections, and any new marketing/advertising techniques we can include to better our position. Do not let your entrepreneur slack on details but expect you to invest your money or time.
Everyone wants the best. The entrepreneur, hopefully, wants to see their vision and goals become successful, while receiving a profit. Family and friends want to see their entrepreneur meet those goals and enjoy your happiness and/or success. But, exactly HOW does this work? NEVER JUDGE AND ALWAYS LISTEN! Be open to “lateral thinking” instead of a “vertical” way of thinking. According to “How to Start and Operate your own Small Business” by Tony Towle, vertical thinking encourages us to believe the only way to solve a problem is to go from one logical step to the next, until you reach the “right” solution. See the difference, just by definition? Lateral thinking is how most entrepreneurs operate. In a book written by Edward de Bono in 1970, tittled “Lateral Thinking”, he defines what it means: solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.
Understanding what they stand for and who they are will become important when assessing what’s best for them.
Can any of these steps be put to use? We hope so! Share with your entrepreneurial friend or family member and encourage them to KEEP PUSHING!
Don’t have the time to try any of our steps? SEND THEM A GIFT TODAY! CLICK HERE: The Cookie Club