“Want to know who your friends are?

Start your own business and ask for their support.”

Steve Jobs

This is NOT intended to be bitchy, pointed or whiny…it is also retail focussed, as ever, I can only talk about what I know…now that’s out of the way, I hope you enjoy!

How to support someone you love and care for as they try to make their way in business? Hmmmmm….

Three years ago, I bought over the business I had previously managed. I have learned a lot along the way, and one of the most important lessons I have learned is who my friends are.

You can show love and support in big ways and small. Supporting a friends business doesn’t always have to mean buying what they are selling. Though that is a wonderful, kind and HUGELY appreciated thing to do.

I am not yet able to put into words how grateful I am, and how my heart swells when I see a familiar face walk through the door of my shop, or when a name I know pops up in my online orders. It is so incredibly kind and grateful and I have been known to cry when it happens.

I do know that spending isn’t an option for many people, and so I thought I would share the other ways that I have been helped by my incredible friends over the past few years.

Ask how your friend is, and LISTEN to the answer: Oh GOD does this help. I don’t know how many millions of times I have been fizzing with anxiety and a kind person saying “how are you? and listening while I detail each and every one of the things which is making me feel insane has lightened my load. Being a sympathetic ear to a frazzled friend is the best support you can ever give.

Share: Spotted a post of your friend’s on Facebook or Instagram? Sharing their posts is a free, quick way to lend support. Social media is a has become a vital tool for small businesses, but those pesky algorithms mean that sometimes our posts simply aren’t effective. A quick share from a lovely friend can help us find a new customer, and you can help a facebook friend find a new business they love!

Similarly, telling people you know about your friend’s business helps in magical ways. Have a friend who is struggling to find the perfect outfit? Tell them about your friend’s boutique. Someone planning a meeting? Make sure they know about your mate’s coffee shop. You get the gist…word of mouth is the greatest recommendation a business can get, you have the power to do great things!

Call in with coffee, babies and pets: Passing your friends premises? Grab them a coffee (you don’t need to ask if they want one, anyone who owns a business ALWAYS wants a coffee) Even better if you are passing with your baby or dog. A quick cuddle with someone or something adorable will brighten even the most stressful of days. Bonus points if you bring chocolate.

Ask what help they need: Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But I don’t think the self employed hear it enough. “What do you need?”/ “How can I help?” /”Anything I can do?” are phrases which are music to the ears of those who are struggling. I am not very good at asking for help, so having someone offer before I have to muster up the courage is just brilliant, life changing in fact.

I have been lucky enough to have amazing friends come in and work alongside me during busy periods, so be wary that if you ask if I need help, you could well find yourself doing an eight hour shift. But I will be grateful forever.

I have been helped enormously by lots of amazing people, so many that if I ever decided to write a book, it would be a list of their names and the constant kindness they’ve shown…but in the meantime, know that there are dozens of ways to be a friend to a business owner. Working for yourself is not easy, it can be lonely, isolating and overwhelming. Cheesy as it sounds, the best way to support someone is to let them know that you are there for them. And mean it.

p.s. HUGS. Give them loads of hugs. The proper, squeeze kind. Not the weird back slappy type.

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