It’s always inspiring when we see friends doing work they absolutely love. The passion for what they do has a type of magnetic energy that radiates off of them. Their genuine commitment to create meaning and impact lifts up the heart. You've felt that right?
Whether they’re fighting for a cause, solving problems for others or contributing to the local community the work they do is special. We may even feel pulled to help, but how do we do this? We can’t buy from every friend who’s doing something amazing. And they can’t all be selling something I want or need. So how can I show my support?
First, as a husband, father, and Entrepreneur myself I understand that it’s difficult to even consider what more we can put on our calendar. But, the more I meet truly authentic colleagues, friends, and fellow entrepreneur the more I want to show how I support what they're doing. More importantly, how I want to see them succeed.
I also know that I’ll need (and hope for) consistent support myself as I grow in my business. How do we create this synergistic support? I've found four helpful ways with examples below. What’s great is that you don’t need to spend a ton of time or money in committing support.
SUPPORT THEM PASSIVELY
Like, share, and comment on their social media. Support does not mean a big time commitment. It can literally take seconds to show you care for their pursuits. A quick social media "like", share or comment can go a long way for your friend.
If you know this is a person of high integrity and their insight is valuable click like, make a brief comment or share. For online entrepreneurs, every like, share, and comment matters no matter what social media platform you're on. You don’t have to endorse anything they're selling. Instead, make a brief comment about the type of person or professional they are.
Maybe their content isn't the best thing to share in your Facebook feed. Don't dismiss it. Would it be great for LinkedIN, Google+ or a topic specific Group? Share it where it will benefit others. Organic growth via social media is very difficult and any support is not only simple but helpful.
Plug them into your network. The previous point was all about reaching more people and how their stuff could help others. Although potential customers are very important to the entrepreneur we don’t want to limit our thinking to only potential customers.
We also have plenty of friends, family, and colleagues who have their own interests. Which ones just might be aligned with what your friend is offering? Take a few moments to think about who's in your network, has similar interests and connect them.
If I wasn’t given these opportunities myself, I would’ve missed out on not only clients but partnerships and job-specific skills. I gain a lot from these (and others) from being plugged into someone else’s network. A quick e-mail or phone introduction just may be the beginning of a long-term, rewarding work relationship. That’s powerful support.
Support them with your other resources. Just like you, entrepreneurs are loaded with responsibilities and time is of the essence. What other resources do you have that could help them learn, improve and grow faster. We all have experts we look up to, podcasts we listen to and authors we recommend. It might be a video you see or a conference you hear about that they’ll enjoy.
You never know what resources at what time will create the shift they need. Many of the events, programs, books or coaches I’ve bought were recommended to me by friends and colleagues. It could be a simple direct message, email, or social media share when you stumble upon an article, app or product.
Anything that can shorten the learning curve is always appreciated. These little supportive gestures can keep motivation up because they know someone else cares about them and their cause.
SUPPORT THEM ACTIVELY
Give them your attention and honest feedback. Feedback is invaluable for entrepreneurs. It helps provide perspective to mistakes, weaknesses and blind spots. What they may not catch themselves may be an area of need you have experience in.
Ask them how you can help or simply offer to look over marketing materials or proofread a blog. Feedback from a trusted friend or colleague allows them to ask deeper questions they don’t often get the opportunity for. You’d be surprised at how helpful a few minutes of your time can be.
Your help could save them extra time, money and embarrassment. Catching a few content mistakes could help them acquire new subscribers. A couple of quick suggestions on their sales pitch could generate a new client. Any gift of time and feedback could be potentially game-changing for them.
Read, listen and watch their Social Media posts. If you know the dynamics of social media for business then you know just how much of a pain it can be to gain traction and grow organically. Any increase in engagement, such as clicks, likes, views, shares, and comments, on social media could have many good residual effects (that’s a whole book in itself and ever-changing) for their business.
For instance, their content is viewed as more valuable by search engines and social media platforms alike. This leads to greater reach as we spoke of, but potentially leading to more subscribers, leads, revenue and profits. Reading, listening and watching will take a little more time investment on your end, but also gives you the opportunity to give more valuable feedback that we just talked about.
If you create content yourself then it can also help you create ideas for content, share valuable perspectives with your audience or ‘partner” by sharing their insights or endorsing them publicly. I’m sure your help will be much appreciated and reciprocated.
Subscribe to their stuff. What we get to see on social media is not fully in our control, so subscribing to your friend's groups, newsletter, and e-mail list can make it much more convenient, especially if you like what they offer. Most of what's being shared on social media is content which has already been sent to subscribers so it should also make it easier for you to like, comment and share their social media content when you see it.
I know the thought of more email seems like a crazy idea, but wouldn’t it be nice to get something other than mail we dread in our inbox? If you’re not going to read it then, by all means, don’t subscribe or direct it to a folder that you’ll read when you get some free time. Or simply create a "support" folder for those you choose to support, but only read an e-mail occasionally to catch up on their business. If you’re a subscriber then it’s easy for them to see that you’re supporting them.
Write or record a testimonial. Social proof is big in business and taking a quick minute to write a genuine testimony is not only an excellent way to support a friend, but to let a friend know how they’ve impacted you and others. Endorse them as a professional or the products and services they provide.
Your words can be used in a variety of ways in their business or shared across their platforms helping increase their credibility in the marketplace as well as showcasing their specific individual talents. This is a very powerful position of support.
Help them out on a big day. Entrepreneurs could always use extra hands and skills on event day. See when, where and how you can help out. Whether it’s behind the scenes or in the midst of the action your help will be much needed and appreciated. Work the registration table, set up or break down or take detailed process notes or data tracking. All of it and more will be needed.
There are more ways to help than you can think of, or that they can probably think of themselves. The more minds and hands the more complete the event they can provide and the more value they can provide their audience.
Think about what skills you or your network can offer and ask or tell them you want to help. Everyone will be able to provide valuable feedback and perspective before and after the event that can later be improved and refined for future events.
SUPPORT THEM EMOTIONALLY
Understand their commitment to authentic purpose. Entrepreneurs are often criticized for their selfish pursuit of independence, autonomy, and financial freedom; many times by those closest to us…family, friends and colleagues. Before you jump on them, ask and listen to why this pursuit is important to them.
For most of them, it’s their calling. This path is genuinely something they find fun, interesting and meaningful. There is a purpose behind it, they’re good at it and they’re committed to making a dent in this arena. It’s almost like play to them, they can get lost in it for hours and not think twice about it.
Value the rare find of having a friend who is committed to not just finding their passion, but creating a life of fulfillment, even a lasting legacy, through purposeful actions.
Celebrate Their Successes. Wins are few and far between for entrepreneurs. Any win is huge, especially early on. If you see or hear of one of their wins then let them know about it, tell them congratulations and share it with others.
Let them know how proud you are of them sticking to it and pushing through all the ups and downs. The more they know that people are in their corner the easier it is to carry the burden of tough times as a start-up or during a hefty project.
Comfort Their Emotional Needs. Success can switch to struggle in an instant in business. The workload can be new, heavy and stretching all at once, even altogether overwhelming. The average day is rarely what we expect it to be…technology can crash at the most inopportune time, we may get “crickets” on our live stream, a potential or current client could say “no”, and our monthly webinar may only get three registrants.
As stressful as it is when things don’t go as planned we can be crushed when things go well, but go unnoticed. In both instances, your friend may need a high five, a hug or a shoulder to lean on. Whatever their struggle entails having support can give them a lift emotionally.
SUPPORT THEM FINANCIALLY
Refer them to potential clients. Financial support is always a bonus, but as you can see there is so much more you can provide other than your money. By supporting in any or all of the ways above you are able to understand your friend’s universe even more and perhaps see just how much love, effort and work it takes.
You’ll probably also be able to see just how much they care, support and work to truly make a difference for their audience and clients. Once you do refer their services will seem like nothing, but to them will mean the world. It may take a few seconds to a few minutes to endorse your friend to a potential client and they’ll be forever grateful.
Don’t Accept Their “Family & Friends” Discount. Insist on paying their full price. If you like their stuff don’t look for a discount. This will not only help you truly value their work, but it also creates a lasting moment of creative and emotional validation about the value they provide for others. It’s a true confidence boost.
Paying less can devalue their work, and even worse they could be taking a financial loss. This could lead them to physical and emotional burnout and a dip in morale and service; which is just bad for everyone involved. Paying them what they’re worth limits what I call “impulse promotion”. That type of promotion driven by excitement or regret of “getting a steal”.
These types of promotions have minimal effect in that it had nothing to do with the product or service provided. Any integrity based entrepreneur will want honest feedback and you paying up front will only assist you in giving feedback that will truly help them.
Gift others with their stuff. If you don’t like their stuff for yourself then maybe you know someone who would benefit from it, but they won’t make the investment themselves or can’t make the investment. Purchase your friend’s stuff for them and gift it to them. Talk about a win-win across the board. That’s a relationship deposit for both friends, a gift for one and support for another. Now that’s a lesson in supporting friends.
Be a low-cost supporter. Maybe it’s a product or event ticket, maybe it’s supplies or a needed tool, maybe it’s sharing your staff, assist or storage space. Maybe it’s sponsoring a portion of continued education. There are many ways you can offer support for little to no cost to you that may be useful and cost-effective for your friend? Entrepreneurs need all the support they can get. Ask and offer them early and often if possible.
Support is something we all want to get and give, but it’s not always possible. Share how you’d like to help and can help as well as what you want or don’t want to commit to. Be clear and upfront so they are clear. Believe me, entrepreneurs would rather not waste time and energy asking people who would rather not (or don’t show up when they said they would).
Ask them to be specific about what they need so that it goes both ways. Supporting your colleague’s, friends’ and family’s business ventures can be easy and rewarding. Utilize these keys to make it beneficial for all parties involved.
How do you support your business focused friends? Will you be one the people they’ll never forget when their dream comes true? Are you a fellow entrepreneur or business professional? How would you like to be supported by your family, friends, and colleagues? Tell us in the comments.