If there’s something you should be doing for your business (and for yourself) that you may not be yet, having a business bestie is it. No matter how truly wonderful, amazing, caring, loving, and great your everyday best friends are, if they don't own a business there are a few areas you won’t be able to relate and sympathize together.
Having someone or a few people who can act as a sounding board is valuable. If you don't have a person like this in your life, I would highly encourage you to seek one out. It sounds weird maybe a little awkward, but I guarantee you will be so glad you did. Not to mention, it’s actually way more normal than it sounds. In my interactions with other business owners, I find that we're all seeking the same thing, the same camaraderie.
This also doesn't have to be one individual. This could be one person, a group of people, a networking group, or several different groups. Find your BBF’s, build your tribe, support each other, and these amazing things will start to happen.
1 | Learn from each other
When I started Good Day Design Co. I was fortunate to have a pretty vast network in place locally. At my job prior to starting this company, I was encouraged to go to networking events often. (If that thought makes you want to run home to hide, check out tips on how to get comfortable with networking here.)
I had been working with some of the people I met through these networking events for years, and some of them had already started to become friends. Many were more acquaintanceships than friendships, but it was a great starting point. The real point was to have people in a similar realm to interact and share experiences with. As I started Good Day Design Co., it became quickly apparent how extremely helpful these relationships are. Here’s why.
In the first couple of months, I had so. many. questions. They ranged from big picture questions to small detailed oriented inquires. Some of those random relationships blossomed into friendships over hours long conversations about invoicing, taxes, project management systems, goal setting and on and on.
Looking back, it is one of the things I have been most grateful for. I would have been so much more terrified if I had started this and didn't have anyone to turn to with those little questions. It's easy enough to hop on the Internet and consult there, but you're still just speculating at that point. Working for yourself and by yourself can feel isolating or lonely and this is one of the great ways to combat that.
It is amazing to have someone that you trust that you can talk to and know they don't mind sitting down and telling you what their experiences have been. A lot of business owners enjoy sharing the knowledge they've learned over the years because we've all worked hard to get where we are, so people want to share that with you and having someone ask is huge. The great thing about this is, even if you didn’t have someone like this starting out, there is always something to learn, so this point will never become less important or productive.
2 | Misery loves company right?
If you know me, you know I am normally not one to want to sit around and complain. It tends to wear me or bring me down. But there’s an exception to every rule and I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that sometimes, I am right there with you and it just feels good to complain.
If it is a short burst and a productive conversation, complaining can be a little detox to your stressful workdays. The reason having a business bestie is helpful here is because you can sit down and complain about your business pains or woes and the person sitting across from you not only understands but can chime in and offer advice.
At a women's entrepreneurial group I go to once a month, we always open the meeting going around and sharing a “Bitch & Brag” for the month. It's important to acknowledge your successes (more on that in a second), but I can tell you we tend to linger on the business bitch a little bit longer. Not because it’s a negative group - quite the opposite actually. It’s really just because we all have something to complain about and having people listen who understand makes you feel a little less crazy and a lot more reasonable.
3 | Share your successes
What's even more valuable than having someone to complain with? Having someone to celebrate with! Here’s the part I really love of this scenario. Imagine talking with your business bestie about the goals you have or plans for something new that you're trying out. They have been in on your plans since they started as ideas.
Not only will they be there to ask about your progress along the way, but when you reach your goal, they already understand how much work you've put into this. Sharing your successes with your family and friends is great, but in some cases those audiences may not understand the work that went into your success on the backend to make it happen. However, your business bestie does know because they've been there with you throughout the whole process. While it isn’t really any fault of friends or family, if you aren’t working toward “business goals” it’s easy to offer a quick congrats without being overly excited about it. Someone who knows the details understands how much to congratulate you or how big of a deal it is and they're there to fully celebrate with you.
4 | Someone to bounce ideas off of
Sometimes all you really all you need is a sounding board. It's pretty easy to start second-guessing yourself when you have a new idea and it's fully up to you to execute it. If you are like me you start to let feelings creep in of self-consciousness or worry about whether people will like it - especially if you are a single person operation. Even if you have employees it is helpful to have feedback outside of your organization.
You might have a “take your business to the next level” idea, but sometimes you need to hear that it IS a good idea. It is helpful to have someone you trust to offer that advice, not only for the validation but because they might have valuable advice to improve your idea. In those rare cases, when something might actually be a bad idea, this trusted friend can help to prevent you from going through with those as well.
5 | Someone to share to help you keep up with trends.
This one tends to apply more if you two are in the same industry. Maybe you’re an accountant and it’s keeping up with tax laws. Maybe you are an interior designer and it’s sharing an article on this season’s trends. Whatever it is, having a friend to share little tidbits with is fun because 1) If you are excited about it, it’s fun to share with someone who will care. 2) You end up learning something you may not have otherwise.
It also doesn't have to be industry exclusive. Sometimes it's just general business trends, like keeping up with social media management. There are new apps coming out all the time, and it's hard to keep up with everything yourself. I noticed one of my business besties was killing it on Instagram and asked for some tips. That is how I learned what planning tool they use (by the way, Later.com, is game changing if you use Instagram) and it has been wildly helpful for me as well.
If you can chat with someone about what’s happening in the industry or what kind of trends others have found interesting or beneficial, it saves you time researching. It's also a two-way street. The great thing here is that as your relationship and friendship grows this will happen naturally without it feeling forced. Instead, you’re just keeping each other up on what's going…because that’s what friends do!
6 | Someone to act as a spokesperson for you
Sometimes the best person to share your message isn't you. It’s important to point out that this should not be the main reason you maintain a friendship. Self-gain is not what a good friendship is based on, but it is natural that you will talk about each other’s businesses. Having someone else out there on your side who is spreading your message and telling people what you and your company are all about is a great perk.
Because it’s your friend sharing about you, you become automatically more trust worthy because the person referring you knows you AND your business. They can keep an eye out for people that would be a good fit for you, and you for them. Leading me to my next point...
7 | Mutually Beneficial
This one is important! It’s not a friendship if it is one sided or if one party is all take and no give. One of the awesome things about this idea, is that it's a two-way street. It has to work for both people to be a positive experience of enriching each other's lives, and while your friendship will most likely grow beyond strictly talking shop, you get to enrich each other’s business as well.