Starting a business is no easy task. And it often feels like a very lonely journey. But we get by with a little (scratch that; a lot of) help from our friends. It’s not an understatement when we say that we couldn’t have started The Olive Grove without the help and encouragement from friends and family.
In the early stages, our families and friends supported us through generous donations to renovate The Olive Grove. But they also called, emailed, and showed up when the task before us seemed impossible. When we opened our doors, our friends continued to support us by attending our events and workshops, and spreading the word. Our families continue to amaze us with their patience and unconditional love as we are figuring out the whole business venture. Thanks, friends and family!
We interviewed a few people who have started small businesses to see how their friends have helped along the way. And here are some of their tips.
Have Your Tribe
“Getting a business up and running can be a frustrating, difficult and a mind-bendingly stressful experience. As a mere mortal, it's nigh impossible to go it alone. You will need people in your corner. People you can trust. People you can rely on. Even people who you can just vent to (or with). Actually mostly with. That's where your friends step in. When everything starts to seem undoable, they keep you focused on what you can actually do.” [Tanios - Co-Founder of Beard Gear Co.]
Not All About the Money
“Most people initially think of financial help. But as I venture down this road longer, the real help is in different areas. It is arrogant, prideful and wrong to think we can be successful in life all by ourselves. It's the same in business. Friends and family offer other essential aspects:
Build Your Reputation
“When starting up a business, it is vital to have friends and family that support you. As a startup, you most likely won’t have an extensive body of work or an impressive portfolio, so it’s a lot harder to get clients because they don’t have a concrete reason to trust you and your new business.
I think that’s where friends and family come in, they are the people that trust you and will enthusiastically hire you or recommend your services to people they know. In my personal experience, all the projects we had when we first started were through people we knew.” [Sirena - Co-Founder of Twig Collaborative]
Don’t Let Your Friends Take Advantage
Sure, give out the “friends and family discount,” but don’t ever feel obligated to work for free to to provide services just because you have your own business. It’s okay to remind your friends that this is your work, aka, this is how you pay the bills.
“A big issue that came up quite a lot when working for friends and family is payment. Often times they expected the work to be done for negligible pay, and sometimes even for free. This was extremely discouraging, and in my opinion, the complete opposite of support. We did however have some extremely supportive friends and family who were happy to pay us for all the effort and time we spent working for them, and those are the people who really helped us get up on our feet and properly start our firm.” [Sirena]
Not Everyone Will Understand (but that’s okay)
“Friends can be a key supportive element during an entrepreneur’s journey. However, they can also bring you down more than they can lift you up. What I’ve learned from my personal experience is that not all friends will understand or be open to listen to your journey. Just those like-minded will fully be open to know more about your business experiences and mistakes.” [Laia - Founder of Leanelle]
As mentioned earlier, starting a business can be a lonely journey. If your friends haven’t been in similar situations, they won’t understand all that you’re going through. But that’s okay. In the same way, we might not be able to fully relate to the frustrations and excitements of an engineer or a doctor, or an accountant.
While running your own business might consume your life, it’s good to try to separate work from your social life. Friends want to support you, but they don’t want everything to revolve around you and your busy schedule. (And that goes both ways).
Surround yourself with people who will love you, support you and remind you to relax and keep going.