Even if Oprah was your BFF, you couldn't support EVERYTHING she did...
All of us have friends who are doing amazing things, and we all want to support them, right? Right. There will be many times that whatever your friend is selling, you just don’t want, need, or like. That’s okay. You can support your friends and family without spending a dime or filling up your bookshelves with books that you will never read. Did you know that? If you did, would you support them? If not, feel free to click on something else.
First things first, set the ground rules for your support and tell your friend or family member what you will and won’t, can and don’t do. If you aren’t spending any money, let them know that up front, so that they aren’t constantly trying to sell you something that you have no intention of buying. If you actually want to invest time, even just a little, in their success, here are seven things that you can do to support your friends’ and family’s business ventures without going broke in the process.
Listen to their ideas and give feedback. Feedback is valuable to an entrepreneur. Ask them to send you a link to their website so that you can look it over and maybe catch typos, give them feedback on the color scheme, font size, how it looks on a mobile phone, etc. If it is a book, tell them what you think about the cover design, during the design process – not after it is finished, that’s not exactly helpful.
Check out their marketing materials. You’d be stunned how many people forget little things like a phone number or email address. You can be the one to catch that and save them a bunch of money on reprinting their business cards and brochures. Give them a few minutes to practice their pitch on you and give them feedback on what they can improve upon, and praise on what is excellent.
Point them to helpful resources. I have read a bunch of books, articles, and blog posts that have been very helpful to me. Many of them were recommended to me by friends who knew what I was trying to accomplish with my blog or business. That direct message, email, or tag on Facebook that points your friend to books, people, software, hardware, classes, and other opportunities to learn are often more valuable to them than the 99 cents that they are asking for the ebook.
When my friends see an article that I should read or someone that I should feature on my blog, it makes me feel so good because I know that they are looking out for me and my business. Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to improve their products and services, reach more people, and be more efficient. If you can help them do that, they will love you for it.
Refer them to potential customers or partners. Even with my varied interests, I am not up for trying, reading, or doing everything that my friends have decided to make their living selling. I also know that there is someone who just might be interested.
I have friends who sew, read science fiction, love photography, are swim team moms, go ham over natural body products, and are serious about herbal supplements. Although I am none of those things, I can pass your information on to someone who is. While I may not have a need for oils and scrubs, I bet I have a friend who would appreciate the referral. Let’s say you know a personal trainer and a nutrition coach. Introduce them to one another, and maybe they will be able to work together.
Read, watch, like, share, and comment on their links on social media. Reading and watching gives you the opportunity to give that valuable feedback that we talked about. Also, on social media like youtube and facebook, views matter. The more views they get, the more facebook and youtube will recommend their content to potential customers. Liking and subscribing are easy, and you can set up your accounts so that no one sees your likes, so that you don’t have to worry about your network seeing your supporting your friend as endorsing their actual product.
Sharing is a little harder since sharing often means endorsement. While you may think your friend is the most amazing person in the world, you may not think that those wrap things work. You may not want to share a link to their book on fetishism because you don’t even get down like that (or you may not admit to it – no judgment here). Share it if it is a fit for you or what you do. For example, many of my blogger friends are moms, and but many of my facebook friends from high school and college are not. If they post something about homeschooling, I share it in the homeschool group – not necessarily on my facebook wall. If they post something about blogging, I may share that in my blogger support groups. Some of us have family groups, high school groups, college alumni groups, all sorts of places where information can be shared.
Subscribe to their newsletter, youtube channel, or mailing list. Given the amount of time that some of us spend cleaning out our inboxes, time is money – and we hate wasting money. The idea of getting more email that we will likely never read is worse than actually paying for whatever product or service is being sold. If you have Gmail, this isn’t a real issue because of the “promotions” inbox where coupons and newsletters are filed. For those of you using other email clients, create a folder called “support” where those emails can live.
Why subscribe if you aren’t going to buy? Some businesses need subscribers to get subscribers. It is like… remember when you were a die hard club goer (or not)? If there was no one there, you didn’t want to go… but if no one was there… no one went. Weird, but it works that way for businesses too.
Come to events and support their efforts. If the event is ticketed and you can’t afford the ticket price, see how you can help out behind the scenes. I have friends who showed up for me at my children’s events who don’t have kids, but sat behind the registration table, helped me carry things, and were there to just give me a thumbs up when I needed it.
There are so many ways that you can lend a hand at events including taking photos or video of them speaking or presenting, and emailing them. You can catch moments that they can’t, and your vantage point, whether it be behind the scenes or in the audience can help them to refine their presentation.
Support them emotionally. There’s nothing that deflates an entrepreneur more than winning and having no one to share it with. Winning is almost as stressful as it is when things don’t go as well as planned. In both instances, your friend may need a shoulder to lean on. When they win, there is pressure to win again, and they may need you to tell them they can do it.
When things don’t go as well as they hoped, they need you to tell them to keep at it and that you believe in their talents and abilities.
Other low cost ways to support...
- Buy an ebook. It takes up no space on your bookshelf, and if you can’t spend 99 cents on a friend… well…
- Try a sample. If it isn’t anything permanent or something you can’t sample (like for me, pork or a hair relaxer), go for it.
- Hand down books and supplies that you no longer need. Got an extra book shelf, file box and folders, envelopes, dry erase board, binder, printer, business books, or other office supplies that may be useful? Offer them up! Entrepreneurs need all the support they can get.
How do you support your business minded friends? Are you and entrepreneur? How would you like to be supported by friends and family? Tell us in the comments.