I recently saw a video on Instagram where a black American man ranted his dissatisfaction of how friends don’t support each other’s business. It was mostly due to the many memes and jokes that recently hit social media about Chick-fil-a and KFC, people didn’t mind posting and sharing things about those restaurants and their products, but they don’t offer similar support for their friends’ businesses.
I agree that it’s easier to post about Nike’s new sneakers than it is to share my friend’s new footwear brand even though I have absolutely nothing to gain from Nike, and my friend has a lot to gain from my referral. A decision I believe people don’t often make consciously.
From being a person with businesses and having friends with businesses also, I understand how supporting could be a dilemma.
Here are a few practical and less burdensome ways to support your friends’ businesses;
1. Show Interest
I won’t start by the popular patronize your friend’s business because this isn’t easy at all. Telling your friends to just drop their other vendors or business relationships or brands they are loyal to just become their friend started a business is not an easy thing to ask for. Not to mention that patronizing a new business takes a level of trust.
Here is where you can start instead; show interest in their business. And what this means is, ask them about their business, talk about it, show interest. Don’t act as if you don’t know they have a business. Ask how the business is doing, ask about their successes and failures, just show interest.Show interest in your friend's business, ask them about their business, talk about it. Genuinely show concern for your friend's business. Click To Tweet
And to drive this point more, here is my next point.
2. Give an honest review and feedback
More important than money is an honest review, an honest criticism, a piece of advice, anything to help that business be better.
People are mostly wrapped in their opinion does not allow them to be realistic about their business, and often, they don’t see seemingly insignificant things that might be affecting their business, or a change that might change of the course of the business better. Sometimes all they need is a friend to tell them.
If my friends notice something about my business that I need to change or add and they don’t tell me, then why are we friends.
I know that not everyone is open to criticism and we don’t handle it the same way, but knowing that you are my friend and you love me and want the best for me, I will listen to you, even if your advice is that I should quit that business.More important than money is an honest review, an honest criticism, a piece of advice, anything to help that business be better. Click To Tweet
3. Buy/Patronize/Use/Hire Them
From the stand of a small business owner, where we don’t have a big initial opening market, we need our family and friends. If my friends and family can’t patronize my business, please, why should/would anyone do?
Especially at the start of a business, patronage from friends is very important because that is the stage you are trying to build a client base, reviews and testimonials, feedbacks to improve the business, all the things you need to have the confidence to market to a bigger audience or to even seek an investor.
And it is very okay to patronize solely for support or out of sentiment.It is very okay to patronize solely for support or out of sentiment. Click To Tweet
4. Ask how you can help or what you can do
Your friends often have areas they might need your help but don’t know how to tell you or whether you will be willing to help, so simply ask them directly how you can be of help, ask them what you can do for them and you’ll be surprised they have been waiting for you to ask that question.Ask your friends, how you can help? Often they have areas they might need your help but don't know how to tell you. Click To Tweet
5. Collaborate with them
If you have a business or brand that your friend’s new business can collaborate with to be able to reach your own audience or network, please do it. After all, you have nothing to lose (assuming it’s not the same line of business).If you have a business or brand that your friend's new business can collaborate with to be able to reach your own audience or network, please do it. After all, you have nothing to lose Click To Tweet
But mind you, (speaking to the friend looking to collaborate), your business has to be good and have excellent and trusted output, otherwise, you will drag your friend’s existing client and trust down, and that isn’t good.
Also before you ask to collaborate with your friend’s brand, do your homework, plan and think how the collaboration through. You are the one in need of help, so you don’t want to put the burden on them. They shouldn’t be the one pulling you, you should be ready.
6. Pay them social currency; Like/Share/Post
I have friends that I will rather they post just once about my business on their social media page than even patronize me because they have the ears of the people I am trying to reach.
This is not to say that you have to have 100,000 Instagram followers before you can share, repost, retweet a friend’s business, No! All they probably need is just one or 2 persons on your timeline to check them out, and I am sure you have more than one or two followers.
And social currency isn’t definite or terminal, it is an endless cycle. Someone sees your share, then they share, and that person shares and on and on it goes. So, start that domino effect, like, share, talk about their business on your social media platforms.You don't have to have 100,000 Instagram followers before you can share, repost, retweet a friend's business Click To Tweet
7. Donate Your Time or Skills
Most startups can’t afford to hire full time the service of some very vital job roles, like accounting, legal adviser and many more. One effortless way you can support your friend’s business is by offering your skill/time to help them at your convenience.
And I bet they need so much that your input once in a while, it could even be just to teach or put them through on that skill set.
Lifegiva’s first and main editor is Oyinkansola Ige, who keeps telling me, Tolu, I am here to help you edit, and she even combined this while she was pursuing her Masters and Doctorate degree. And also worthy of mention is my dear friend Oreoluwa Abidoye, who has been volunteering as our account for about 2 years now.
Friends need each other, be there for them, they might never be able to replicate the help rendered, but the mere joy that you contributed to the success of a friend’s life is enough.Offer to help your friend's business with your skill at any chance you get. Click To Tweet
8. Share your network or connection
I have seen many instances where you can’t offer anything to a friend’s business, but you know someone who can, that is your cue right there. You probably know someone they have been trying to reach; a contact in a business they want to pitch to, an expert they need professional counsel from…whatever form it might be.
This might also mean you asking them what or who they might be trying to reach or talk to.
Do you know someone who will be elated to hear about your friend’s business, ideas or might even just be their zeal and commitment? Please lend a word about that friend to the person. Let your friend ride on your shoulder; influence or network in this case.Let your friend ride on your shoulder; influence or network. Click To Tweet
9. Stop Asking for Discounts/Free Work
I totally get why this happens and I know it is often not because you don’t value them, but try, try, just try. Decide you won’t offer them less than the value they are giving to you. Don’t let your familiarity with them make you value them any less than they deserve, especially when you won’t mind paying better to someone else to deliver the same value or product.Don't let your familiarity make you value them any less than they deserve, especially when you won't mind paying better to someone else to deliver the same value or product. Click To Tweet
10. Encourage Them
Discouragement ruins new businesses than the lack of customer do. That sincere word of encouragement does more than you will ever know. You are reading this blog today 6 years after it started because of encouragements that came just at the right time, the moment before quitting most of the time.
And I think this goes hand in hand with my first point, show interest in what they do, ask about how they are doing and don’t settle for a cliche “It is fine” answer.
Think about it, your significant other or close friend telling you that he/she believes in you is worth more than 1000 ‘I believe in you’ from strangers.A close friend telling you that he/she believes in you is worth more than 1000 'I believe in you' from strangers. Click To Tweet
So, I think the above examples sufficient tips on the way you can support your friend’s business. Think about your friends, think about how you might be of help, which of the above points you’ll apply. And in case I left one point out, please help me fill it in in the comment section.Friends need each other, be there for them, they might never be able to replicate the help rendered, but the mere joy that you contributed to the success of a friend's life is enough. Click To Tweet
Read next; Re-Evaluating The Concept Of ‘a Friend’