An Open Letter to Friends & Families of Small Business Owners
Dear friends, family, acquaintances and people I am yet to meet,
I write this with hope that you don’t take what I’m about to say in a negative way. I write this because I am constantly put in an uncomfortable situation where I have to defend my craft, my business and my time. You may not realize this, but my business is not my hobby. It is my livelihood. Even if it’s part-time, it’s still not a hobby. Please understand that when you ask me to do something for you for “free” or at a discounted rate, or when you tell me that me doing said “free” thing for you will give my business exposure, you are asking me to put aside my life & clients with no compensation – and I just can’t do that. I tried paying a bill once with exposure; it didn’t go over very well.
Please, don’t put me in a situation where I am forced to turn you down. Where I make you question our friendship (because this has nothing to do with me being your friend). Where I end up feeling like I’m a bad money hungry person who doesn’t want to “help out”. I work very hard. I lose a lot of sleep and I don’t mind (it’s my choice), but that has to be for something. It just so happens that money is that “something” which we all need to survive. I invested years (and a significant amount of “something”) into my business. I’m still investing. I just can’t afford to do things without pay. No matter how much I love you.
If I do offer you my time, service or product for free, then consider it a gift. Think of it as a kind gesture and know that I only offer it when I know I am able to (without it having a negative impact on my life, business or finances). Please understand though, that in my heart of hearts I wish I could do everything for everyone I love without taking a dollar, but I also kind of need to eat. Plus, if I am to be completely honest, I know that you have paid, or are willing to pay others for the thing you want me to do pro bono, and let me tell you, that does sting a little, but…I think I’ll get over it. What are friends if not understanding, right?
Let me also be fair though. As much as it hurts that you would pay someone else to do the thing you expect me to do for free, you are also not obligated to hire me simply because we are close. You don’t owe that to me one bit. All you have to do (in fact, all I have to do) is be a good friend. Support me in my endeavors, and I will do the same for you.
Your friend (who just happens to run a small business)
Share your experiences with us by commenting below. And it’s not b*tching – we’re relating (sassy style!).