When your friend decides to start a business
by Cathy Goodwin
Etiquette books, as far as I know, will tell you how to behave when your
friend gets married, buried, graduated, or hospitalized.
But let's say
your friend, who always seemed sensible and predictable, tells you she's
quitting her job. Sure, it's a good job, she says, but she dreads getting up
for work and she's stressed. Her medical bills have risen along with
You suggest, as delicately as possible, that she
get "professional help." She tells you she's hired a coach and a business
consultant, and no, she isn't starting a baseball team. She has a new
business. You don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Here are a few
suggestions to maintain the friendship.
Do not call your friend after two
weeks to ask, "So, made any money yet?" This will be a sore subject for the
first six months or more.
Giving a gift to your friend? Best bets are
gift certificates at mega-stores, preferably online, so your friend can
buy anything from software to books. A gift certificate for coaching,
computer maintenance or office supplies will be appreciated.
a nice restaurant will go well if you can persuade your friend to leave her
beeper and cell phone at home. Just one warning: The sight of a computer on
the restaurant desktop may trigger the urge to check for email. Remind
your friend firmly: the messages will still be waiting
Your friend feels discouraged? "Well, you won't lose
much if you pull out now" is about as insensitive as you can get. Friendly
questions include, "Are you seeing signs of progress?" Better, take your
friend to a movie and suggest he call his coach afterward.
amounts are relative. Your friend who previously earned ten thousand dollars
a month will be ecstatic when he sees five hundred. Dollars, that is, not
You just got a call at eleven o'clock at night? Or five
in the morning? Never fear, there's no emergency. Just routine business
hours for the self-employed.
Whatever else, do not say anything like,
"You might as well spend the money now. You won't have more later." Or,
"I heard about a terrific job atŠ"
However, some people who start a
business realize they miss corporate life. They may decide they want to take
a job for awhile, to increase their stash of cash and gain some additional
experience. That's when true friendship comes through. Saying, "I told you
so" is a definite no-no. And, "I knew you wouldn't make it" will kill even
the most solid friendship, as soon as the words are out.
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Chief Executive Officer of the company, who do you talk to about
really important issues? Running an enterprise should be
challenging, exciting, rewarding and fun. It doesn't have to be
lonely at the top.
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. helps midcareer professionals strategize their next
move, one decision at a time. Weekly "Your Next Move Ezine" Website: http://www.cathygoodwin.com
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