Monday, June 16, 2014

Business friends

     Free daily tips, information and advice for people in small business
     from an experienced business owner--been there, done that.

     People who start a small business frequently don't know the difference between personal friends and business friends. Until you get the hang of it, it can be confusing.

     A personal friend is someone you're comfortable with. You willingly share private pieces of your life. You enjoy being around personal friends.

     A business friend is someone who trusts you to provide certain goods and services. They feel that you have integrity, but the relationship is at arm's length and professional.

     Example: I know the owner of a small gift shop who is downright unpleasant with some customers who wander into her place. Instead of assuming a professional attitude, she immediately "likes" or "dislikes" the person, and she treats them accordingly. She brings her attitude problem into the business. Many people don't return, and the business suffers. People who enter her shop don't arrive looking for a personal friend. They were attracted by something they saw in the window, and they expect to be treated with respect. 

     Example: Another small business provides home improvements. The operation is run by a man with well-rounded experience in carpentry, painting, and tackling those small jobs around the house--hanging a door, re-glazing an old window, repairing tile work. His estimates are free, but when he arrives at the homeowner's place, he sometimes leaves without even knocking. He explained to me once that, if he has a bad first impression, he won't even meet the person or estimate the job. For reasons that are purely personal, he decides upfront whether or not he wants to deal with this person. If there are signs of neglect or if there is an old car in the driveway, he moves on. 

     You can run your own business any way you like, providing it is lawful. But setting up to serve only people you would consider personal friends severely limits the business future. A business experiences best growth by setting up to serve business friends. 

     Business friends appreciate your professionalism and will refer others to you. Personal friends have other agendas.

     Retired now after a lifetime founding, expanding and growing businesses, I write this blog to share my knowledge and experience with others in small business. If you have questions, email me at and put BLOG in the subject line so I don't delete. Quick answers, no charge and your privacy is always respected.  

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