Starting a business can be quite scary.
As an entrepreneur, you are venturing into a space with many uncertainties. How long will you stay in business? How long will it take to break even?
For this, most budding entrepreneurs count on the support and encouragement of their friends as they navigate the unpredictable waters of business. Here’s how you can support your friends besides buying their goods and services.
Stop asking for discounts or freebies
When 26-year-old Emily Wanja started her perfume refilling business, her friends were her greatest cheerleaders.
“They promised to only buy perfumes from my shop, and even offered to market my products. By the time I was making an order, I had a list of prospective buyers. To my shock however most of them wanted freebies or offered to buy at ridiculously low prices,” she says.
Don’t be like Emily’s friends. Remember that your friends have invested in the business; have bills to pay; intend to make profit and are keen on growing their venture.
You can motivate them by seconding them for jobs in their areas of specialisation. For instance, if you have an event coming up and your friend is an event planner, you could give them the job.
This however may depend on the services you require, and their years of experience in that particular field.
Collaborate with them
One way of supporting your friends is by collaborating with them to help them succeed. For instance, if your friend is a skilled graphic designer but he or she lacks copy writing skills, you can empower them with your writing or editing skills.
Share their work
Have you ever wondered why people are quick to share work done by popular people such as celebrities, but are reluctant to share those done by their little known friends?
This is quite unfair, if you think about it. At one point, you might also need their support, and if that is not motivation enough, just share their work for the sake of your friendship.
Your friend might have had a bad day. Perhaps a potential client backed out, or they failed to meet their daily targets.
They may want to talk about this experience, so if they approach you, lend them an ear. “Sometimes, all we need is someone to talk to, maybe for advice or a shoulder to lean on,” says Caroline Nyokabi, 28, who runs an M-Pesa shop.
Use your connections
Whether you are still in school or in employment, you can use your networks to market your friends’ products and services.
With the advancement in technology, you can post a WhatsApp status that will be seen by your contacts. You never know who is watching.
Donate your time and skills
The process of starting and running a business can be quite hectic; therefore your friend may miss some important details such as setting up an online store, decorating their premises or printing business cards.
Here is another way to help – you can offer your skills, or offer your time to help improve the image of their business.
If your friend is selling a mediocre product, or if their services are of top quality, let them know. Also, you can share the positive feedback with others.