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Growing up, I learned (as I’m sure many others did) that once you’ve chosen or found a job or a career you basically stick with it until it is time to retire. As long as your job paid the bills and you were saving up for retirement, you were good to go especially if you were working for a “good” company that offered “good” benefits and had a “good” pension. Life was as it should be and that’s all that you needed. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with finding a solid job/career (especially if it makes you happy) and retiring from it. It’s just that I wasn’t aware that there was a different way, that there was anything else out there. Don’t ask me how I thought these good companies had gotten started. It never occurred to me that someone had to create that business from an idea or passion that they had. I just knew that you worked for a company and they paid you.
When I went to college, I wholeheartedly majored in English Education, absolutely certain that I wanted to be a teacher for the rest of my life (don’t get me started on that). When I landed my first teaching job, I was elated, ready to take on the world, educating our youth and setting them on a path to success. All was right with the world. Fast forward to a few years later. I was frustrated with my chosen career, the pay I was receiving, and how teachers were being treated. I was ready to try something new. Unfortunately, I felt trapped. It was a stable job, my degree in English Education didn’t really give me very many career options, and the schedule was perfect for a mom. I didn’t know what to do.
But then one day my friend who was also an English Education major (it’s how we met), quit her teaching job (right after winning Teacher of the Year in her school district) in order to pursue her dream of dancing professionally. It was like my eyes were finally opened to all of the possibilities that had been right in front of me the whole time. You could create your own job and income doing something fulfilling. You didn’t have to clock in to a 9 to 5 every day and work for someone else (or you could do that but still have your side hustle like I do now). Since that realization, I have started my own photography company (Natural Soul Photography), tried my hand at being a direct sales consultant with Thirty-One Gifts, as well as become a wellness coach with Herbalife (a hustle I’m still working on making a success). Oh, yeah. I now have this blog, too (and yes, this can be considered a business as well).
This has definitely been one of the hardest and most rewarding journeys that I’ve ever been on. One of the most difficult parts has been getting the support of family and friends. I have had some who’ve been in my corner from the start, but I’ve also gotten plenty of side-eyes and ignored phone calls from people. I can’t blame them for not supporting me because before I became an entrepreneur, I also did not take my friends seriously when they talked to me about purchasing something from them whether it was Avon, Mary Kay, or some jewelry they were selling. I didn’t realize that my lack of support only hurt my friends and made it harder for them to succeed. Support from friends and family is extremely important to an entrepreneur. I’ve learned so many things over the past few years and thought I would share it with others. If you have friends or family members who are striving to start their business or already have one, here are 5 ways that you can support their hustle game.
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- Be mindful of your criticism. I can guarantee you that your friend or loved one has put their heart and soul into creating their business. Being harsh or “real” with the person could be extremely hurtful to them. I believe all entrepreneurs want honest feedback about their work, constructive criticism that will help them make their business better. However, if you don’t see the point of what they’re doing, think it’s a waste of time, don’t think they’ll ever make any money, or that anyone will want they have to offer, I think it’s just best to be quiet. Unless the person is pouring their life’s savings into something that you know is a scheme, it’s best to just close your mouth. You know the saying. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
- Respect the game! I know that I can spend hours at a time working on my craft and for people to complain about how much time I am spending on it or to downplay the amount of work that I had to put into what I do is downright insulting. Most of the entrepreneurs that I know work a full-time job and then work their business in their free time. I’m not sure about you, but I think that’s pretty admirable and your friend/family member should at least get a high five or pat on the back for that (or maybe even a big hug).
- Patronize their business or at least help them promote it. If your friend or family member sells something, buy something from them. If it’s not something you can use, at least refer a friend or two or three to their business. You could even do a Facebook post or video hyping up your friend’s business. You may know someone who needs your sister’s products or your uncle’s services; spread the word. Most small business owners don’t have a budget for marketing and rely on word of mouth to get their name out there.
- Don’t ask for the hook up! Just typing this I can visualize all of the heads of my fellow entrepreneurs nodding up and down or the shouts of “Yes” and “Exactly!” We are running businesses and while sometimes we may be able to offer specials, this is a business, not a hobby. Yes, we are doing something we love, but let’s be real, we are doing it for the money, too. Again, think about the hard work and time that we put into what we do and ask yourself if the price you’re asking for is really fair?
- Share an interest in their story. Ask them how and why they do what they do. Cheer them on or give them some specific praise. Encourage them to keep trying (because there will be many, many times when they want to throw in the towel). You may be surprised and maybe even inspired by their response. Who knows, after hearing the benefits of working for yourself, you may want to begin your own little entrepreneurial journey. And who do you think is going to have your back?
Side note: I wanted to give a shout out to each one of my friends and family members that have inspired me with their own hustles. However, since I didn’t want to accidentally leave anyone out, I’ll just shout out all of you! You know who you are (hopefully)! Thank you for your inspiration!!! Keep doing what you do!
“Every day we’re hustlin’!”
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