How many folk in your acquaintance do you know who work for themselves? Or have a side gig they’re hoping may one day support them more fully? How many of these folk do you see regularly promoting themselves and what they do?

Many of my circle online do their own thing – whether full time or as a side hustle. And yet I rarely see them talk about it, much less shout about it or, god forbid, promote it! Why are many of us so ashamed and embarrassed to promote what we do?

And why are many of us so crap at supporting those around us who are doing their own thing?

I know when I share some of my work, there’s always trepidation that no one will notice, care or respond. Fortunately I’ve been at this long enough to know that there are often other things going on and it isn’t necessarily about me…and I also know that there’s a real reluctance around to support folk doing their own thing. But why is this?

How is it we’re ok supporting the big name brands – celebrities, charities, international corporations etc. – and yet we find it difficult to support people we actually know who are proactively aiming to support themselves through their own endeavours – often doing something they love, something more creative and which aligns with their values – to pay their bills and put food on their table? 

How is it that we’re suspicious of friends we know doing their own thing? Do we trust them less than we trust an unknown, faceless company who really has very little to lose if they screw us over? (Versus the friend who not only has our friendship to lose, but trust, reputation, other shared friends and more).

Are we worried that we’ll get burned somehow? Do we pay too much attention to that old adage ‘never mix business with pleasure’? Is it jealousy, envy or discomfort that someone doing their own thing holds a mirror up to the fact that we’re not?

Is it suspicion, doubt and fear that there’s not enough of the pie to go round and if we support others, somehow there won’t be enough for us?

I don’t have answers to the questions I’ve asked – I can only speak for myself. And I know that…

  • If I’m working with you as your business coach, it’s in my absolute best interests to show up with my A game because I have a heck of a lot more to lose than ‘just’ a client if I don’t…our friendship, my reputation, your respect and more.
  • If I’m helping you formulate a more strategic plan, I’m going to make it’s the best damn plan you’ve ever seen, because if it’s not, the proof will be in the pudding and I’ll have to face that fact every single time I see you again. (Notwithstanding the small matter that the plan is only part of it and it’s your responsibility to put it into action and bring it into being…unless I’m helping you with that too, in which case see the point before this one).
  • If I’m helping you set up a website/blog, I’m going to want to leave you with the best damn website/blog I can because in some way, it’s not just a representation and reflection of you, it’s a representation of me too. Plus I can’t just walk away when the project’s done and get away with telling you that “No, your website will never need updating again” (when I know it will), because I’m (hopefully) going to see you again!

So you might like to consider next time – when you see a friend promoting their own business – why you’re so suspicious of and so reluctant to trust them enough to give them your support, your loyalty, your trust and, ultimately, your business. 

And if you do know folk – like me – who run their own business, are starting out with something new or trying to, here are just a few small ways you can show your support – one day it may just be you and you’ll then recognise quite how much these would mean to you:

  1. When they share a post about their business, go ahead and like (or why not push the boat out and love) it. Leave them a supportive comment and go one step further and share it, preferably tagging anyone you know who might be interested.
  2. Make a point of sending folk their way; I’m always looking for connections between people I know – it is always appreciated on both sides.
  3. Write reviews or send them feedback (especially if they ask you for it). Consider how important others opinions are to you when you’re evaluating something – a well written, authentic review is timeless.
  4. Buy from them, hire them, work with them!

P.S. The following are a few folk I’m proud to support as they do their own thing to support themselves and their family…Mali (my 9 year old daughter), Becky (my partner), Jonathan (my ex).