Wednesday, July 3, 2013

10 Tips for Friends of New Home Business Owners

So, your friend just started with her favorite direct sales company or started sewing or crafting, or is doing a bit of photography or something else from home.  Word of mouth is a business owner's best friend and sometimes those closest to the owner get a bit gun shy and overwhelmed.  Sometimes, those of us in this type of business can get a bit too obnoxious with our sharing and can push friends away without trying.  Under the best of circumstances, there are still some bumps in the road.   Here are some tips from my own perspective and experiences.  Make clear boundaries and work on making it a positive experience for all.

10.  Don't be afraid to say "thanks, but no thanks"...but don't beat around the bush...her (or his!) time is precious.  Friends will often spread the word more enthusiastically than strangers, especially when they are just getting started.   If they ask you for a party or an order, just say what you mean.  The "maybe later" answers leave them believing that you may not be sure but there is still hope that you will do something.  If you aren't sure, it is ok to say "ask me again next month".  Give boundaries, give deadlines, set limits.  It is beneficial to both of you!

9.  Don't hide from them, face it head on from the start.  This may seem the same as number 10, but it isn't.  people avoid answering invitations, phone calls or events.  Don't fall into this!  Just face it head on and start off with your decisions.  It is OK to say no!  If you say no and mean it, then you and your friend can move on to the next thing and be friends.  Avoiding them makes things awkward for both of you.  Kick that elephant out of the room before it even comes through the door.

8.  Do consider taking the time to listen and see what they are doing...if they are your friend and you normally trust them, you may actually like what they are doing now too!  You probably share some common interests and it may be something you'd like too!  No one says you have to jump in and sell it or buy it, but maybe you do know someone who would love to.  This advertising is priceless to new businesses.

7.  Don't compare your friend's experience to someone else's failure.  They need to hear encouragement or a soft voice of reason, not discouraging comparisons.  They've thought this through and planned.  They are not your uncle's ex-wife's cousin who went into debt and got collection calls because she never paid her bills. At least, for my sake, I sure hope not.

6.  Be careful not to "one up" them.  That can also be discouraging.  They just decided to start a business with a company and you have a favorite product of the same type from another source.  That is perfectly ok, but please, for both of you....don't try to convince them that their product is inferior or not adequate compared to the others.  Yes, people do it every day.  Don't let that be you!  Even if their business is horrible, unless they are looking for sympathy over a bad hair cut, they don't want to hear how awful you think it may be.  When they are excited, your cold response can be hurtful. 

5.  While it is great to ask how their business is doing, don't ask details about how much money they are making.  Unless you openly share your financials with those around you, a home business owner should be given the same respect.  Now, if you are considering such a business and want motivation, there are numbers that are ok to discuss...but if you wouldn't ask your neighbor down the road how much their last paycheck was, it probably isn't ok to ask of your business owner friend.  People ask this all the time.  My tax man knows, my husband knows.  The IRS knows.  The rest?  Isn't any one's business.  Unless they want to share how much THEY made this week.  Then we can talk.
4.  Let them complain without judgement from time to time.  Just the same as you may complain about a boss pushing a deadline or adding extra work to your pile when you were already overloaded?  Sometimes, your business friends get overwhelmed to.  Yep, they chose their job, but so did you.  Ouch!, right?  It is true.  You could work at McDonald's or Wal-Mart, but you chose your business affiliation and it is still not a perfect job all day every day.  We are all human and all have our ups and downs. 

3.  Don't tell them to get a real job.  People work from home and make serious income every day.  Over the years, I've had several friends who make 5 figures or more per month, every month because of the businesses they've built (that were ALL legal!).  It takes time and effort, and it doesn't happen to everyone, but it does happen to those who choose solid companies and work hard.  Just like most any other job in the world, it all starts at the entry level, and determination, hard work, dedication, continued training can lead to great things and big advancements and promotions.

2.  Realize that your friend is actually working, not just playing on the computer, visiting with friends, or chatting on the phone for fun.  The business hours and events are business.  Not leisure.  It isn't your time to sit and chat on the phone for hours or strike up a message marathon on facebook.  Your friend may be networking, advertising, attending coaching meetings with her upline or mentors, or contacting clients and team members. Be careful not to assume that since your friend is home, that they are not busy.

and last, but certainly not least!

1.  Don't ask for freebies.  They didn't start a charity. They started a business.  If you'd walk up to them and ask them on any given day if they'd give you the cash that equals the value of the item you want, then by all means go ahead...but if you want that snazzy new gadget that is $50, and you wouldn't just say "hey, can you give me fifty bucks?"...then control yourself.  I see photography folks talking about this all the time.  They tend to be the most targeted group for beggars, but it happens to all of us. Don't be greedy, no matter how tempting it is.  Don't be afraid to ask for a discount for your legwork, but make sure you have mutual benefit...not just asking for handouts.

No worries, I have an open letter to new business owners in the works too.  In the 16+ years, I have seen a lot, done a lot, and learned even more...both good and bad. 


  1. Good points!!!
    To this day I still get annoyed by people beating around the bush. but I've become a bit more bold and have flat out told the hem-haw-ers that if they are not interested, then please say so, I'll still be their friend! lol

  2. I don't touch the hem-haw-ers anymore either. I just don't look to those closest to me at all, to be honest, unless there is a solid reason to do so. I announce what I am doing, make a casual mention or two and let them be the first to make a move at this point, aside from an invitation to my first event that may work for them. I see a lot of "newbies" getting discouraged by their friends, and I have learned that friends and family are a great asset, but they are NOT the foundation of your business either.