Whenever you embark on a new venture of any sort, there are a million and one things to consider and possibly even fear. You may ask yourself, can I really do this? Do I have enough money? Will it even work? How will I market it? But one thing most of us don’t question is whether our friends will support us. It’s a given right? They are our friends. If you can count on anyone to have your back — to say no more when you say you need something, it’s them right?
I don’t know you, or your friends for that matter, but I know what I’ve seen in my own life — and heard about from other people who’ve stepped out on a limb and found there were no branches (i.e. friends) out there with them.
This past Saturday I hosted my first workout class and about two weeks before the big day I was a mental wreck. I was super anxious about the turnout for the event and questioning whether I’d tried to step out and do something like this too soon since launching my own site. And that anxiety was magnified by the realization that a lot of the people I assumed would support me couldn’t care less.
As time went on, I realized all those likes and “Yaaaaasss” affirmations people wrote on social media when I posted the event flyer weren’t translating into ticket purchases. And when I paid attention to who wasn’t coming I couldn’t help but notice it was people whom I’d supported without question in the past. I’d bought their books, attended their weddings, gone to their shows, appeared on their podcasts, worked out with them, featured them on the site, brainstormed with them, and in return they gave me crickets. Meanwhile, other people whom I don’t even consider myself as close to sent me congratulatory messages saying they were sorry they couldn’t make it, or that they’d be at the next one. I didn’t even get that much from “friends” who were seemingly just pretending like my event wasn’t happen.
I was deep in my feelings about it when my trainer made an off-hand remark about friends telling him they like what he’s doing in person, but never bothering to like, share, or repost anything where it counts. As a small business owner, social media is crucial to his success and he finds those around him rather share mindless memes and celebrity news than help a budding entrepreneur build his brand. He found it disheartening to say the least.
I talked to my co-worker about it, as she’d dealt with similar feelings when she self-published her book last year. “It just makes you question, what is it?” she said of so-called friends’ reluctance to support you when you start doing your own thing. “Is it jealousy? That’s all I can conclude.”
I don’t think that’s far off the mark. It’s not always that people don’t want to see you succeed, per say, it’s that they’re frustrated they didn’t have the balls to branch out themselves and they don’t know how to praise other people while dealing with their own feelings of inadequacy. There are also others who are only comfortable being the Beyoncé of the group and they can’t handle other people in their circle getting something for themselves too. And then some people prove they weren’t really your friends all along, they just used you for what they could get out of you and never had any intention of the relationship being reciprocal. And finally, I believe there are some people who simply don’t get what it takes to win at this entrepreneurial game. They figure you don’t need their support because you have x,y,or z and unless you explicitly say, “Hey girl can you help with this?” they’re oblivious to the fact that sharing a picture and using a hashtag you created can make or break a future sponsorship.
At the end of the day, I realized the core people I really f-ck with, for lack of a better phrase, came through and supported me, and that right there was the lesson. Everybody who calls you a friend is not worthy of the title. And while I don’t regret the support I offered to others in the past, I won’t make the mistake of confusing the nature of our relationship again. My event was a success without those people and those who came are the ones who deserve my energy.
I say all that to say, check your support levels. Are you always asking for people to show up for you but when the tide turns you can’t be bothered? Have you neglected to share news about your friend’s business because she appears to be doing so well? Trust me, every little bit counts. Or have you been too busy running after the wrong friends to co-sign your venture rather than pouring into genuine followers who have your back no matter what? Support your friends like you want them to support you. Just make sure those friends are real friends.