Building a business from ground-up is hard work. While running your own show can give you a high, there are days when it can pull you down so low, that all you want to do is crawl under a blanket and hide. This is when it really helps to have the right circle of friends and supporters, who can help you pick up the pieces and march onward, chin and head up. Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, has said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If this is true, it makes sense to choose our friends wisely, and once we have found them, ‘grapple them to our soul with hoops of steel,’ as Polonius advised Hamlet.
Here are 5 kinds of friends every entrepreneur would be well-advised to have.
As a new entrepreneur, mistakes will be a part and parcel of your life. Which is why every entrepreneur can benefit from a mentor who has been there, done that, and knows enough to tell you not to do that. A good mentor is like a compass – they can point your business north when things are going south. Mentors will also help you skirt around common entrepreneurial stumbling blocks, while offering you sound business advice. To make more ‘mentor friends’, go out and network with as many people as you can. Remember to look first within your own circle of family and friends; you never know who may be a perfect fit. Brooke Stone, Founder and CEO of Brooke Stone Lifestyle Management, realised that her entrepreneur father was the ideal mentor she had been looking for, when she once happened to call him in a moment of complete overwhelm. Find a good mentor and befriend them early on in your business.
The Business Butterflies
The business butterflies are those blessed individuals who are connected to absolutely everybody in the business world and can introduce you to all the right people in the right places. If you are lucky enough to have friends like these, ask them for help and guidance.
If your influential friend list is currently stuck at 0, you can start out by meeting more people at networking events and building strong relationships with them. Remember to be genuine, and honest in your dealings, and more importantly, since this is a two way street, be open to lending your help too, as much as possible. Like the famous American author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, has said, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
Friends who light up your life with motivating words of encouragement and support are your Sunbeams – and every entrepreneur needs a few of these – or rather, a truckload of them, given the rollercoaster ride entrepreneurship is. When you’re down and out, you need someone to believe in you and remind you of your strengths. Acclaimed author Stephen King, who rose to fame after his first novel ‘Carrie’ was published, had in fact trashed the novel drafts and would’ve never worked on them again, if his wife hadn’t retrieved them from the dustbin and urged him to keep at it. We all need a friend who will show us the bright side when we want to give up on our ‘Carrie’.
Having supportive friends is crucial. But sometimes, you need more than just moral support, you need financial backing too. And for most entrepreneurs, turning to friends and family first is the way to go. Judy Wicks, founder of the wildly popular White Dog Café, (featured in Condé Nast as one of the “50 American restaurants worth the journey”), first started out with a $75000 loan from a friend, which she used to build a kitchen with a grill. Millionaire fashion designer Eileen Fisher, had only $350 in the bank when she launched her namesake company. Eileen borrowed money from her friends and paid them back with an interest of 2% a month as soon as her deliveries cashed in. When you have friends who believe in you to the point of lending you runway capital, you’ve literally hit the jackpot.
Life is not always sunshine and roses. And that’s good. While positive words of encouragement are essential, sometimes, we need people who can give us constructive, intelligent criticism, without holding back or getting personal. According to Elon Musk, getting critical feedback and knowing how to take it is vital in order to run a successful enterprise. “Ask what’s wrong”, advises Musk. “People don’t like to complain or point out faults, but that’s what will make your business stronger.” Friends who can deliver tough news with a soft bow and make us pull up our socks eventually help us grow into better business leaders.
So what kinds of friends have been instrumental in your business success? Share your stories with us in the comment section below.
The goal of deAsra Foundation is to help individuals become self-employed. Our mission is to build a scalable platform to enable 25,000 self-employed businesses over the next 5 years. To this effect we are focusing on urban services businesses. For individuals wanting to do these businesses, we have established a rich eco-system that will be able to provide individuals complete end-to-end support across all stages of the business lifecycle such as bank loans, compliance, supply chain, recruitment etc. We are particularly proud of the work we have done in building out “Business Guides” (http://www.deasra.in/#BusinessInABox)