When you are working on a business that’s been in the works for a while or even just starting from scratch getting support is super important. No one tells you that working on a business can be pretty isolating and lonely at times. And, on top of that when you’re feeling isolated and lonely your motivation to do anything basically flatlines. Win-Win-Win, right?!
You can’t focus on growing your business if you're struggling to find the inspiration to produce content, find new customers or even just put pants on when you show up to scroll through your inbox in the morning.
Pants. The struggle is real.
This is why it’s important that your family, friends and community support you because, (in as anti-woo a tone as possible) that support is what is going to give you the strength to push forward when times get a little tough or you’ve been wearing sweatpants a little too long.
Asking for and receiving support is a bit of a double edged sword though. How do you balance the support you need and the unsolicited (often well intentioned and inevitably worthless) advice that comes with it?
As an entrepreneur here’s how you can get the most out of your support system. These five tips for navigating everyone’s feedback (with some support from me to you as well), will help you stay true to your vision and mission and while helping to drive you past whatever hurdle has kept you from doing your best work.
1. Listen sympathetically.
Don’t just shut down when your support system offers tips and suggestions around helping you grow your business. I know they might not be offering anything that you will ever remotely implement but they are looking out for you. So be supportive back, take the suggestions with a grain of salt but most importantly validate the business support giver. Do not just shut them down because that’s the quickest way you will lose what the support or interest that person has in you. Getting good at being a great listener can literally make or break your brand.
2. Document everything.
Now I’m not just talking about what needs to be done or what you are doing at the moment. When friends and family help make sure you take notes. It shows that you’re engaged, that you appreciate them and will allow you to thank them appropriately. This is big because it helps to curb false senses of entitlement or resentment later on. Everyone likes to feel important and it’s critical that you make an effort to show your gratitude. As you're building a business getting your community to invest in your growth with more than their wallets means you’re creating advocates and raving fans in the future.
3. Use accounting systems that work for you.
This tips is money specific and I had to put it in because literally everyone, including me, thinks they have the perfect solution when it comes to money. Also, it’s probably one of the most popular pieces of unsolicited advice you’ll receive from any would-be business advisor. Everyone has an idea for how you SHOULD be keeping track of your finances. Some old, some new, some pretty obscure and some legally ambiguous. Older generations might encourage you to use paper and pen, newer ones might have cloud based suggestions but it’s really up to you and your tax preparers. Your numbers are ultimately your numbers! You are responsible for all the liability and the gains. Me personally, I love Freshbooks. It’ cloud based and super easy to use.
4. Choose your favors and resources carefully.
Everyone “knows someone” these days. Most of the time when your support system offers help it’s because they think it will really be valuable or cost saving for you. That’s not always the case. It’s important to navigate these relationships and suggestions carefully. You might have to let people know that your budget can’t handle a service or product or that you don’t think it will be a good fit at the moment. Gratitude is king here too, make sure your support systems knows you appreciate them!
5. Settle up as soon as possible.
If you have friends and family working for you it’s important that they are compensated for their efforts.
Reciprocity is KING.
It’s not just about handing over cold hard cash either it’s really any kind of value exchange. Think about the last time you helped a friend move in exchange for pizza and beers. Yes you were willing to help but the value exchange made it a little easier. Even if they refuse to accept, the act of offering is critically important. It validates experiences and keeps people from harboring resentment for your project or business. It’s easy for someone to contribute and feel a sense of entitlement or feel like they have some kind of stake in the profits or proceeds if what you’re working on really takes off. As an operator you need to manage those expectations as soon as possible. So, by offering some kind of repayment helps to wipe slates and egos clean.
Make sure you are careful navigating personal relationships - it’s just as easy to offend when dealing with close knit support systems and money!
Hope you enjoyed these tips and they cover at least a few of the real issues you might be dealing with in your business developments. If you feel like I might have missed any feel free to leave it in the comments below - I’d love to keep this conversation moving!