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Because Words Can Hurt: Getting Support from Your Friends When You Start Your Business

Getting Support from Your Friends

As anyone who has ever gone into business for themselves knows, not every decision is going to garner support from your friends. In fact, this is true of any life change, whether it’s moving, getting sober or naming your unborn manchild “Harry.”

Seriously, people. Did you really think I was looking for your opinion about his name? If you just don’t get me and JK Rowling, we don’t need you in the first place.

But the point is … your friends love you. Well, your true friends do.

The rest are just jealous, ungrateful, selfish bas –

ANYWAY. Your friends want the best for you.

The problem with wanting the best for someone is that we usually see what’s best for them the same way we see what’s best for us. The two are obviously not mutually exclusive, but often don’t align. Mostly because friends aren’t huge on us changing.

We, as humans, don’t really like change. And we really don’t like change when it comes to our environment or the people around us. We need them to stay nice and predictable.

Support from Your Friends: A Dicey Prospect

I bring this up for a reason. And that is reason is there’s a reason your friends might not seem as supportive of your new endeavors as you want and need them to be. (Did I just say “reason” too many times? Nah, I don’t think so.)

But really. You might go into the conversation excited and looking for someone to share in your joy, only to have a friend scrunch up his face and give you a list of arguments for why it won’t work and you should stop immediately.

Most of the subtle judgments will start with “Have you thought about … ” or “But what if … ” or “I just never saw you as … ” and so on. It sucks, but these responses have more to do with them than with you. It might be that they would be afraid to make the change, or they don’t have the same vision; it may have nothing at all to do with you or your ability.

So before you jump down their throat about it, remember they may not even be aware they’re doing it. Or they may think second-guessing you is a way of being supportive.

People are so weird. If you want support from your friends, just take that as your starting place and keep cool.

Share Your Business but Avoid the Showdown

So how do you avoid fisticuffs, or their 21st century verbal equivalent?

Well, like with most relationships, you have to teach people how to treat you. Go into the conversation with confidence.

Start by saying things like, “I’ve made a decision I want to share with you so you can be excited with me!” If you have to say this with a goofy look on your face, then immediately chug lemonade just for something to do with your mouth while they process, that’s fine. But that way they know the decision has been made, and you’re not looking for their thoughts. You just want their support.

I mean, they could also pay for lunch. But mostly the support thing.

Or you can try, “You’ve always been so encouraging, so I want to share some exciting news with you.” It’s a subtle way of letting them know you’re just looking for the ol’ nod-n-smile. Is it cheesy? Sure, but who cares? It successfully fends off the BS before it begins.

When Things Get Unsupportive, Get Out

If that doesn’t work and you find yourself in a conversation with someone who is raining on your parade, don’t get stuck answering all the rude questions they ask simply to satisfy themselves.

Stay calm, and tell them what you’re looking for. Let them know that you’re grateful that they care so much, but that you have really thought this writing business out and you just wanted to share your plans with them.

Conversely, if you ask for someone’s thoughts and opinions on making the leap to go out on your own, be prepared for them to tell you whatever they want to. You can’t ask for advice and then get upset when you get it. Instead, choose to ask advice only from friends whom you feel give you very honest and thoughtful feedback.

And in the end, this is your life. YOU are the only one who knows how to make you happy.

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