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Having A No Friends Mentality As A Business Owner

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If you want to know who your friends are, start a business.  You will learn the difference between a (vampire) acquaintance and a friend quickly.  This business 101 axiom may even apply to family members.   If you have owned a small business for a few years or even worked in hospitality, you already know the direction of this article.  For new business owners, this is one of those unspoken realities that comes with business ownership.  You have no friends.  I do not mean this in a literal sense.

I also would like to mention I have performed quite a few generous acts for friends and strangers.  I am not saying you should not discount or provide free services ever.  But I believe in providing services on my own terms.

I want to introduce a sobering reminder that not everyone that says they support you really supports you.  Not everyone that claims to care about you will be supportive.  With respect to friends and family, starting a business is going to make you a target for people who only value you as an opportunity to get discounted or free services.  It exposes relationships as associations of convenience.

I will provide you with some examples.  You barely hear from this person for years.  Suddenly someone you know wants a detail.  He or she talks about all the things they will (magically) do for you that do not include (actually) paying you.  “Hey buddy, hope all is well.”  I have this (car).”  I politely but professionally respond, like I would treat anyone else.  I send a link to my website where I also have my starting prices that he or she is often aware of.  Magically I do not hear from this person again.  For context, this dialogue was from about 3 years ago.  If you are an approval seeker, this game makes you even more vulnerable to this behavior.  There is a mentality that you must have to have a chance of success as a business owner.  Until it is proven otherwise with respect to truly supporting your business, you have no friends!

If you think what I am communicating is harsh remember the saying, ‘it is lonely at the top’.  I can give you an example of someone respectful in my life who really is on the very lower end of the income bracket.  “How much do you charge?  Okay that will give me time to save up and tip you.”  There are people that wear shoes they do not need that are more expensive than the discounted price they are demanding from you.  Meanwhile there are people that will gladly pay your rates.  Think about this when someone tries to manipulate you with guilt.

I want you to think about all of the hours you spent working on (not just in) the business.  Calculate all of the hidden hours learning and creatively thinking about how you would improve your detailing operation.  I am going to take an educated guess here and say you never asked a friend or relative to hook you up with more than your standard rate simply because you are trying to get established and running a business is hard!  You never said, “I normally charge $150 but can you pay me $300 to hook my business up.”  So why would you acquiesce to others?  Not everyone cheering for you when that ribbon is cut is really there to support you.

Rodney Tatum
Mirror Reflections Auto Spa
Gainesville, Florida
MirrorReflectionsAutoSpa.com
YouTube | Facebook

13 comments on Having A No Friends Mentality As A Business Owner

  1. Ron Ayotte says:

    Friendship is friendship, business is business… don’t confuse the two.

    I offer a small discount for public safety and active military personnel, provided they can offer proper credentials.

  2. Ross Wilson says:

    Rodney your mindset is great. I enjoy reading your articles everything. Cheers.

  3. Marshall Steinbeck says:

    I think when I was still win business (before retirement) I knew this inside me but was never bold enough about it.
    You have done many readers a great service by putting this out there in print and hopefully making them feel that
    this mentality is “OK” and doesn’t make anybody a bad guy. You have saved many hard working detailers thousands of dollars and hundreds of free labor hours. Thanks

  4. They don’t call it show friends they call it show business.

  5. MT says:

    Rodney,

    I enjoy your content and understand where you’re coming from, but… There are certainly some grey areas to what you’re saying and a little more nuance to each situation. We all have the buddy who would like something for nothing and isn’t around when you’re in a bind, but being generous to someone can go a long way for a business. “Good will” is what this is often called and can often pay much larger dividends than just dollar bills in your pocket today.

    I’m not suggesting you ever discount when you’ve got other full price customers waiting in line. But if you’ve got some idle time in your schedule, doing a job for cost can be a great way to “try out” a new product or technique at a reduced risk. And although you might not be making your advertised rate never underestimate the power of an excited and exuberant customer to spread the word about your business, especially when detailing isn’t something that any of us truly needs.

    Just some food for thought on the flip-side as I too often hear these kinds of stories of the hardened detailers who everyone tries to take advantage of… Cheers

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      To be fair I did mention that I have and support a certain level of generosity. To give an example, some of the articles written by me, involved friends who were genuinely unable to financially support my business got a really clean and shiny car experience.

      My issue comes from knowing that a large percentage of the detailing owners really are very nice people who naturally go above and beyond for people. But from life experience a lot of people are not thinking of you in a way that is destructive to your mental well being and directly your business success. Then you factor in certain perceptions of this industry that are toxic further excaberting this problem. I don’t think it is appropriate for people trying to ‘make it’ and support themselves be bullied to provide something (a luxury) that people technically don’t need. I have heard several stories recentlt about alledged friends angry and offended that a discount given was ‘outrageous’, which was motivation for this topic.

      Even the hardened professionals, I suspect became that way because they were burned by a lack of boundaries set.

  6. Chris Becker says:

    Rodney, you hit the nail on the head. Great article.

    -Chris

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