Business 101: Don’t Depend On Your Friends

I remember a conversation with a business owner who was convinced she needed to add a virtual component to her business “My friends said they would totally pay for it.”

Immediately my red flags were going off. “Have you asked anyone who isn’t a friend what their interested would be.”

“Well no.”

Our friends want the best from us. They want us to succeed and when it works from them, they’ll support us with their wallets. We rely on them as a shoulder to cry on and an open hand for a high five when we’re celebrating. The problem is they know too much about how the sausages are made and may have a bit of a bias going on.

“Yes, that’s a great idea. Do that!” they say. But when it comes time to launching and earning revenue, it’s a fraction of the fanfare. They weren’t lying to you and they’re not bad people. They want to encourage you, but your friends along are not enough to sustain a business.

Friends ARE great for:

1)      Promoting your business

2)      Referring people to your business

3)      Manual labor

4)      Extra set of eyes

5)      Hugs

6)      High Fives

7)      Drinking pick-me-ups

Friends are safe and if you’ve only been relying on them for feedback, you’re limiting your marketing reach. Take the risk and expand see what happens. If nothing bites, keep trying or shift your focus. Ask acquaintance level friends for their feedback if they are in your target audience.

The friends closest to you are there for your emotional support, but don’t expect them to be your financial support. It only makes things weird in the long run.

After I created and ran The Spring Cleaning Summit last year, I was ecstatic for the clients and friends that showed up. I also was disappointed at the friends I thought I could count on to support the event. As I go forward, expectations will need to take a backseat to gratitude mixed with the risk of the unknown.

If you're unsure about who you should reach out to, take a step back and think about the problem your service or product is solving. Who is most likely to have that problem? Where do they hang out?