Only About Your Business

I’ve noticed something recently. Well, I think I saw it a while back, but it didn’t stand out as much because I wasn’t trying to advertise beyond a small amount of people. It seems that many people act as if support is a one-way street. I’m pretty sure you’ve run into people like this, but let’s just talk about this in terms of business.

You may have seen the memes and posts floating around that talk about supporting local businesses and supporting friends. Basically, the meaning is: “Why are you spending your hard-earned money and even going into debt to support someone who has already established himself, but you won’t support your friend who is doing the same thing?” Not only are people not willing to support their friends, they hold their friends to higher expectations as soon as they start! I’m not suggesting that you allow yourself to be a guinea pig and use or eat experimental items that are likely to kill you. However, what’s it going to hurt you to patronize your friend’s business, at least once, instead of the barber way across town? If you don’t want to change barbers, at least recommend someone else to your friend as an option. Just because you know your friend is in business doesn’t mean other people do.

I’ve never been the kind of person who does things for others with the idea that I’m banking future favors. I don’t necessarily go crazy over my friends’ and relatives’ businesses or new ventures, but I try not to act like they have no business trying. Most of the people with whom I have even minimal interaction have gotten some kind of support from me whether it be:

– congratulating them on their achievements

– asking them for advice first since they are specialists in their fields

– sharing their musical/artistic creations

– suggesting they make contact with other successful people I think could benefit them in their field

– referring potential clients to them

– sharing their business cards/websites

– letting them know about trainings to help them improve their skills

– sending them notices about free or low-cost ways to advertise

– even telling them about contests where they could win money for something they’re already doing

Just because I don’t have long conversations with people or even rarely interact with people doesn’t mean I won’t refer potential clients to them. I make an effort to support the person selling dinners from home to the person who can charge thousands for a service because…I can. Someone I know is trying to etch out a spot in the world, make an honest living, and enjoy what he does at the same time? Why not support him?

Why is it so hard to get a friend to support a friend?

Let me rephrase that.

Why are there so many people who believe they have the right to start a business, make money from a hobby, or capitalize on their talents and then expect everyone to like, share, and comment on their work but won’t do the same in return? Seriously, how hard is it to click “like” on something? I have people associated with me for whom I have gone out of my way to send potential clients (usually because I didn’t need the service or couldn’t afford their rates), shared their links on my own pages, offered opportunities to advertise, etc. who have never (and I do mean never) have appeared to even acknowledge that I have a business, book, whatever – much less said, “Thank you.” In all honesty, most will respond to let me know they got the message. As far as not even a “thank you,” that honor belongs to one person so far.

This isn’t to talk about “me” so much as it is to hold a mirror up to the people who are doing one-way advertising. I say “me” because I can only speak for what I know I’ve done. However, I can count multiple contacts off the top of my head who do the same thing. At the same time, I can also easily name several people who don’t seem to acknowledge anyone else’s business unless they can possibly get credit somehow. I watch, mostly men, rant about how people won’t support their own neighborhoods, don’t look out for friends, or aren’t there for them. However, I cannot remember a single instance (considering at least two years back) where they purposely supported someone else’s business not tied to their own. I cannot recall an instance where they shared a website or asked someone to “like” a facebook page to help build a friend’s business or help with free advertising.

To the fellas who believe you have a giving heart, I have to remind you that “giving” with the expectation of a future payment from someone you believe “owes” you is nothing more than a “loan.” You’re not willing to invest into others, so you can believe that the investment we’d be willing to share with you will start drifting to others who actually appreciate it and will, at least, acknowledge our efforts at creating our own unique spaces in the world. This isn’t about loaning investments. It’s about being given the same respect as an entrepreneur that you want us to give to you.

Last illustration:

If we’re standing side-by-side in a shopping center, and you advertise your business. People will be curious. If I am helping you by giving testimonials, passing out business cards, or doing anything to help bring attention to you, I help validate your work. If I then have a turn to promote my product, and you sit down to talk on your phone or simply walk away, I now have to work harder to get people to take me seriously because my “friend” has given the message that what I have isn’t worth his time.

That is the message you send when you go out of your way to not show even the slightest support for your friend. That is how you start losing your support and why you complain that people aren’t there for you. It’s not that we weren’t there. We just got tired of being used, unrecognized, and discarded.

In all fairness, it might be our fault. Maybe we were just too quick to classify you as a “friend.”

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