Entrepreneurs across America commonly have a monkey on their backs. This monkey drives business away, ruins profits, and can even shut down businesses. Like most monkeys that live on people’s backs, this one is rarely seen until it is too late to do anything about it. This monkey is the plethora of friends that you have outside the business world.
Friendship and business rarely mix successfully. Catering to friendships is one of the biggest reasons that businesses go under, although failed entrepreneurs rarely admit the mistake in hindsight. In order to make your business successful, you must separate your friends from your income source. But for those who don’t believe the damage that friendships can cause, here are 8 reasons why your friends should be kept far away from your business’s doors.
1. The Store Hangout
Naive entrepreneurs commonly allow their friends to hang out at their shops. They even set out tables and chairs in the middle of the store for their friends to relax at. While some business models benefit from keeping people in the store to make more purchases, your friends rarely want to spend cash in your store. What begins as offering your friend a chair becomes twenty people, some that you don’t even know, bringing in outside food and drink to lounge around your shop.
These friends rarely buy anything. Those customers who would have bought from you walk in and see your shop as crowded, the tables as messy, and don’t like the visual representation of the people you apparently cater to. Your friends just cost you another sale. Toss your friends out, get rid of the tables, and get back to business before you go under.
2. Giving Friends Jobs
As soon as your friends discover that you are running a business, the first question they will ask is if they can have employment with you. There is a chance that one of your friends may be a hard working individual who is honestly seeking gainful employment.
But the average friend asking for a job is looking for an easy gig where they do very little and can rely on your friendship as assurance they won’t be fired. To avoid such conundrums, refuse employment to your friends on the grounds of “preserving your friendship”.
3. Giving Friends Discounts
The friendship discount should not exist. It is great that your friends want to shop in your store, but they should pay full price, just like every other customer is required to do. When you start handing out friendship discounts, other customers who witness this practice will begin questioning your motives. Once word gets out that you offer special pricing to friends, your business will be shunned by those who aren’t your friends, and your social life crowded by those who want those friendship discounts.
4. Exceptions For Friends
When you make the rules for your business, you are making them for everyone, customer and friend alike. Once you start offering exceptions for friends, your other customers will start taking notice of how the rules don’t seem to apply to everyone. Whether your exception is taking IOUs, accepting personal checks, or holding an item, the practice will attract the wrong attention for your store.
5. Texting Or Calling Friends
Even when you use your own personal cell phone to communicate with friends while you are running your business, people will take note of the fact that you are doing so. Time spent talking and laughing on your cell phone, or texting away with occasional smiles, is time when you are not paying attention to your customers.
Either your customers are taking offense to the fact that your cell phone seems more important than your business, or they are taking advantage of the fact via the five fingered discount. Tell your friends you are working and hang up, or better yet, put your phone on silent and keep it out of sight.
6. Face To Face Gossip
When friends are hanging out at the front counter to talk to you, they are impeding business. Even if they are not blocking your customers, those who patronize your store are taking note of the fact that you are holding a friendly conversation off to one side while you should be serving them. A wise entrepreneur will keep their friends and the juicy gossip away from the front counter.
7. Stocking For Friends
While operating your business, you should only stock those items that you normally would. Carrying an item because a friend has requested it is a good way to end up with stock that you can’t sell. Just because two of your friends wanted a certain item doesn’t mean that your regular clients will buy the rest of the case. Unless the item falls within the bounds of what your store naturally carries, tell your friends to go find said item elsewhere.
8. Extending Business Hours For Friends
Your business hours are posted for a reason. These are the times of day when you, the entrepreneur, are either willing to operate your shop, or pay to have someone operate the shop for you. When you hold the store open for a friend who promises they “will be right there”, you are putting your business at risk.
Every minute that passes while you hold your store open for your friend is another minute that you are having to pay your employees for. It’s another minute the electric bill is running up, and another minute that you are sacrificing from your own life for a friend.
Most importantly, these are minutes when you shouldn’t be open, yet clearly still are. These are the minutes in which you are most likely to be robbed. During this time, no one expects your doors to be unlocked, and no one will be looking for any suspicious activity on premises. So ask yourself if staying open for your friends to make a small purchase is really worth the risk to your business.