Here’s the thing: business friendships

We’ve come a long way since 2010, when I used to see conversations from small business owners on Twitter and wish I could provide something more.

And then there was the creation of the Notonthehighstreet partner forum (yes, I got that up and running when I worked in the Notonthehighstreet partner team) – a place for that particular community to share tips, advice, and woes. Even that appears to have dwindled now, less a community and more of a tumbleweed.

There are so many more communities and business friendships available. We meet kindred spirits on Instagram, or in a Facebook group. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to be close to a strong local community. (How I long to be in Exeter and go to a Creative Business Network coffee meet up!)

My own business friendships have developed. I have clients who’ve become friends, and my own coaches have, too. My bestie, Kelly, started her own business, and so business became another way in which we support each other.

But I have to say that in this arena of business friendships – and relationships in general – I feel a little bruised. I was thinking about writing this post, and I realised that I still carry friendship-sadness for connections that have faded, and I wondered just how many of us feel that way.

It’s true of the old school friends who I haven’t kept in touch with, or the kindred spirit who went travelling and with whom I lost touch.

These are people I didn’t fall out with – nothing bad happened – but that slipped through my hands.

And those feelings are affecting my business friendships even now.

I’m still afraid to make new friendships in business, in case they fade away or don’t work out, and I’ve found myself questioning whether some relationships are meant to be business friendships, or a different dynamic.

Did I employ that person because I wanted to be friends with them?

Did I become friends with someone because I wanted to do business with them?

What about the friendships that could have been, but our business values were different?

When you have a business friendship, I think you know it. At least, when I reflect on what works for me, I know it. There are some friends with whom I can talk about business and feel respected, seen, heard, and supported. And I can listen to friends in business, and make sure they want my coaching perspective before I offer it.

Because there’s a difference between being someone’s business coach and being their friend.

There’s also a difference between being a friend in business, and a business friendship.

What do we mean by a business friendship?

A business friendship is a relationship in which you’re able to share honestly about your business successes and challenges without judgement and in order to receive encouragement and support. You might meet up for co-working coffee dates, or brainstorm your marketing plan together. Perhaps you meet at or attend events together. (Like a business retreat, for example.)

You’re able to bounce ideas around, go on inspiration-gathering trips together, or send a panic text when something’s going wrong. In a business friendship, you know that the other person has your back, but isn’t responsible for your business success.

It might be a one-on-one friendship, or it might be a small community. You might have a Facebook group or an Instagram chat.

Things that aren’t a business friendship:

  • A friend who has a business but doesn’t support yours (Beware the Naysayers)
  • A business coach or mentor who offers guidance, advice, or services (though a friendship might blossom outside of your coaching or mentoring relationship)
  • Anyone who offers you unsolicited advice, or is constantly negative about your business or decisions – even if they say they’re “playing devil’s advocate” or offering “tough love”
  • One-sided support, where you give all the support all the time. This is different from the cyclical nature of mutual support, where one person needs a little more for a time.

If you have even one person you’d call a business friend, count yourself incredibly lucky! Any more, and you’re walking on sunshine, my friend.

Of course, sometimes we need more than friendship – we need a coach or mentor to provide business expertise. A business coach will work with you to create a business plan and will help you to identify what you really want – and how to get it. It’s in-depth work. Yes, you’ll be seen and heard (with the right coach), and you’ll get a whole load of love. But you’ll also have someone who is trained, experienced, and works in this way professionally. It’s a total business – and life – support.

Chances are, if you decide to work with a coach, your business friend will benefit from the work you’re doing too, as you share stories and create a different path for your business. It’s a win-win-win.

Here are some things I’d love to know, so please get in touch!

  1. Do you have a business bestie? If not, are you looking for one?
  2. If you’re in or near Cambridge, would you be interested in a regular creative business meet up?
  3. What do you think the difference between business friendship and business coaching is?

Until soon,

Jenny x

What if you felt aspirational on the inside?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about two things:

  1. How social media affects us as business owners – who we follow, who we compare ourselves to, what we think we “should” be doing
  2. Taking time out to connect with your inner wisdom on a deeper level – and how working in this way allows us to create more authentic, meaningful businesses

It hit me this morning that these two things are incredibly intertwined.

I created Self Care on Social Media for Business Owners to help people like you and me make sure they’re not too distracted by other people on the internet, and instead to cultivate their own authentic voice.

And I’m running a video series on why and how to take time out of the busy-work in order to cultivate better business alignment. Because I know that that’s the only way to get really clear on what you want.

Ultimately, that thing you see on the internet, on Instagram, on the grapevine – you know, the one you imagine means “true success”? What if that thing wasn’t an aspirational post or a Pinterest board or a beautifully styled image? What if, instead, it was a feeling and a source of power and inspiration within you?

Does that sound like nonsense? Stay with me.

For generations, and especially in the last 100 years, we’ve cultivated our homes, our lives, our clothes, and our spaces to be an outer expression of who we are. We want our spaces to represent a part of us: Comfy sofas demonstrate our passion for relaxation and welcoming guests. Sassy t-shirt slogans let people know we’re sarcastic. A yellow front door tells the world we value joy and fun.

That’s the idea, right?

And if you’re a business owner or creative entrepreneur or a maker, your work is also an expression of who you are – at least in part. (Because we’re really very complex human beings, so that one print you designed probably won’t pack all of it in.)

But what if we reverse engineer it?

Those Instagram posts you like are telling you something about yourself, or a feeling you want to cultivate in your own life and business.

What if, rather than wishing we had the styled, superficial photo, we dug deeper into what it means to us?

Maybe that flatlay of pretty autumnal things is telling you you want to be more creative, just for the hell of it (and not for your business).

Perhaps that new product by that brand you admire is showing you that you want to be really confident in the new things that you launch.

What if that crazy helpful blog series is showing you that you too want to be helpful?

Rather than trying to replicate the content or the look or the aesthetic, what if we sink deeper into the feeling we have within us? From where I’m sitting, going inward and exploring it internally will help us get to a unique and authentic expression of something that’s never been seen before.

So I think I’m coming to understand that there’s wisdom in combining these two things: taking good care of yourself on social media by noticing where you slip into envy and comparison AND going deeper to explore what these external indicators really mean for you.

That aspirational feeling is inside you. It isn’t in the yellow door or the perfectly styled flatlay. It’s within you. And it deserves exploration and expression.

What do you think? Am I rambling, or is there something here?

Jenny x

Here’s the thing: fear is the biggest distraction

I spent Monday in what I would, in previous years, called a daze. I drank tea, I wrote, I read. I made a rather pathetic attempt at writing emails. A lot of the day was spent staring into space.

Sounds productive, huh?

Actually, it was. And like so much of life, the difference between utterly unproductive and deeply clarifying, productive work could not be seen on the outside. Had you seen me, you’d have thought I was wasting a day.

On the inside, it felt like I was synthesising a whole load of ideas, wisdom, thoughts, needs, and wants. Something was shifting, but the only way to allow it to happen was to be quiet and highly unproductive.

By the time I went to bed, a thought had bubbled up from all this contemplation and it said: All you’re doing is trying not to get hurt.

And, reader, it was 100% correct.

All I have been doing this year is trying to avoid getting hurt. I have played it safe, taken small, calculated risks, mostly about things I don’t care about too much.

I have spent a large proportion of my time this year trying to limit the amount of hurt possible. At the end of last year, I did get hurt – I got hurt in my business. And I have been trying to rebuild things differently, and mostly succeeding, except I haven’t been doing what I’m meant to do.

Fear has distracted me from writing, from planning things I cannot wait to do, from letting go of the things that are getting in the way.

Social media doesn’t distract me – fear does.

Fear tells me that I’m stuck. That I just can’t find the answer. That perhaps there is no answer and I should go and get a job. (Fear knows how to twist the knife, doesn’t it?)

Fear has kept me tweaking projects, refining things that just don’t matter, because to actually try to do something I really want – that will hurt.

Failing at something I wasn’t really that bothered about in the first place is much less painful than even the idea that I might fail at something important.

Also – failure is inevitable. Fear is the one who tells me it’s awful and avoidable, if only I were good enough. Fear tells me that failing means no one will like me and I’ll never be happy again.

Failure is simply part of the landscape – as certain as breathing, sleeping, waking.

So here’s the thing:

This year, for me, has been my life’s lesson in getting back up. The phase I’m in now is how to get beyond survival and into thriving.

Fear has been there every step of the way and, left unchecked, it would keep me stuck and working too hard at things that don’t matter.

And I know that I’ve read articles similar to this one and nodded my head and thought, “Yeah, musn’t let fear get in the way,” while doing everything Fear told me to do. So I know you might do the same, and that’s okay. We can only do it when we can do it.

But in case this hits you at a moment when you’re open to hearing it, I hope you’ll know that failure is part of the programme, and that Fear can’t hold it over us for the rest of time.

I hope you’ll see maybe just one small way that you’re holding yourself back because of Fear.

I hope you’ll know that you’re not alone. That successful, authentic, creative, ambitious people get all caught up in Fear, too.

You don’t have to change a single thing today. You can just notice.

Me? I’m going to start by tipping the balance towards the things that really matter. I can’t wait to fail at them.

optin-cup

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