Starting a business can sometimes feel like a lonely journey through the wilderness. If you haven’t started a business with a partner, it may seem like the entire burden of the business success rests on your shoulders. Hopefully, you have some good friends who are more than willing to support you and your business.
However, asking for their help may not always be as easy as it sounds. Especially for entrepreneurs. This is because many entrepreneurs have a hard time asking for help. A study by Silver Lining has found that only 7 percent of the time small business owners ask for help in overcoming a small business challenge. So it is no wonder that many entrepreneurs struggle to ask for help or support from their friends.
Friends can be a valuable resource for a business. Not only are friends potential customers, but they can also be brand advocates and a source for referrals. They can also be a listening ear or support system for the entrepreneur and any employees. Let’s take a look at how entrepreneurs and business owners can ask their friends to support their businesses.
Choose the Right Friends to Ask
Before asking your friends to support your business you need to be sure that you are asking the right friends for help. Many times new entrepreneurs expect their friends and family to support their venture because of the bond they have with them. However, these new business owners often don’t take the time to ask themselves if their friends and family want or need what they’re selling.
Beyond that, they also don’t think about the relationship they have with their friends. They also don’t consider whether that relationship extends to supporting their business, even if they have never used the product or service. Friends with whom you have a strong, trusting relationship are more likely to be supportive. On the other hand, acquaintances and casual friends may not feel the need or the want to support your business beyond sharing content on social media.
When entrepreneurs wonder why their friends are not supporting their business, they need to consider that their friends aren’t their target market. They also need to understand that not all friends are close friends.
Choose the Right Time to Ask
Another thing to consider when asking friends to support your business is timing. This is an often overlooked aspect of the asking process and can make a big difference. Perhaps friends want to support your business but the timing is not right for them. Or maybe they plan to support your business but your venture has not yet matured enough to offer the value they need.
It’s also important to be sensitive to their circumstances. For example, friends who are already overburdened with their own professional or personal commitments might not be the best candidates for this kind of request. Remember, just because you would like the support right away doesn’t mean your friends are in a position to do so.
Try to preface your request by inquiring about their availability or the timing. They also don’t consider whether that relationship extends to supporting their business, even if they have never used the product or service. You can say something like, “I know it’s the holiday season and you’re busy but would this be a good time to ask you to….?” This simple statement can make your friend feel like you’ve considered their circumstances and also help them not feel pressured to say ‘yes’ to your request.
Personalize the Request
In any business, customers don’t like to feel like they are just a number in a sea of other clients and customers. In fact, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide personalized offers and recommendations. This is because customers appreciate relevant recommendations. It is safe to assume that your friends will also respond the same way if you can personalize your request.
Make sure your request makes sense to the friend you’re asking for help. For example, say you have a resume writing business and have a friend who is gainfully employed. It doesn’t make sense to ask them to hire you to redo their resume so they can get a new job. However, you may want to offer to update and optimize their LinkedIn profile if you notice it hasn’t been fully optimized.
When reaching out to friends for business support, avoid sending mass emails or texts. These impersonal methods can make your friends feel like just another name on a list, rather than valued individuals.
Mass messages often lack the personal touch needed to convey your genuine appreciation for their potential help. Instead, opt for personalized communication. A direct phone call, a personalized email, or even a face-to-face conversation can be much more effective.
These methods show that you’ve taken the time to consider them specifically and value their individual contribution. Personalized communication also provides a better opportunity to discuss details and address any questions or concerns your friends might have.
Be Clear on the Kind of Help You’re Seeking
There are many ways people can support their friends’ businesses. Friends can be customers, offer strategic advice, or offer referrals. They can also support a business by sharing the business on social media. When asking friends to support your business, be clear on the kind of support you’re looking for. This will allow them to assess whether they can commit to providing the help you need.
In addition to being clear about your needs, be open to listening to their ideas and suggestions. This two-way communication shows that you value their opinions and are not just looking for a favor, but rather for a collaborative effort. It also gives them room to offer support in a way that aligns with their skills and interests. Remember, each friend is different, and a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works. Being clear about what you’re asking for increases the likelihood of a positive response.
Give Them Something in Return
When asking for support from friends for your business, it’s crucial to think about what you can offer them in return. This makes sure that the relationship remains balanced and mutually beneficial. It’s important to recognize that the value you provide in return doesn’t always have to be monetary. There are various ways to reciprocate that can be equally, if not more, valuable.
There are many things you can offer your friends that support your business. Here are just a few that may work:
- Discounts on products or services
- Handwritten notes
- Acknowledgments of support on your website
- Commissions (if friends referred other customers)
The key is to show your gratitude in a way that demonstrates how much you appreciate your friends’ help. You can also ask them how they would like to be rewarded for their support. Or, if they want to be rewarded at all. There is a possibility that friends will support your business just because they truly want to help and are not looking to get anything back from the support.
Take ‘No’ for an Answer
In sales, you are taught to overcome objections. Typically, sales training involves understanding the hesitancy of customers who may be interested in a product or service and then overcoming those objections by answering any concerns.
However when it comes to asking friends for support, especially when it comes to purchasing from you, when they refuse it is best to accept their answer. The mixing of friendship and business is always a delicate process. This is true if you are starting a business with a friend or if that friend is investing in your business in some way.
When asking for help from a friend for your business you are asking for an investment. If they are not willing or cannot help at that time, accept their answer and leave the door open for them to help in the future if they change their minds.
Humans are social creatures, and friendship is an important part of our lives. As entrepreneurs, we need our friends to help support us and be there for us. Not only for our business but for our mental health. If you are seeking to ask your friends for help, be sure you understand the right way to do it. This way, you will be able to gain business benefits for your business. All while maintaining a strong bond with the important people in your life.