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Monday, April 14, 2014

Small Business and Personal Business

The other day I read a couple of Facebook rants by someone who was really frustrated that her friends weren't supporting her by liking and/or buying things she posted on FB. She went on to explain about her beliefs and her financial situation and how hurtful it was that people weren't responding to her posts. I cringed because I know exactly how it feels on both sides of that fence.

What has kept me reflecting on these posts is that I don't really know this woman and before the rant posts, I had no idea about her health, her finances, or the fact that she was hoping to sell things via Facebook. I'm sure she didn't post details about her personal life because she didn't want to seem like a whiner. I get that and I agree. I do the same thing but my question is that if no one knows that I need help, do I get to resent them for not vollunteering that help? And is it fair to expect or even hope that people I don't know should feel some obligation to buy my wares based on my personal situation? At the end of the day, I feel like folks should order from me based on their need not mine.

One of my favorite sarcastic sayings is, "When life hands you lemons, shut up and eat your damn lemons." I don't know why that makes me laugh but it does. I guess it just speaks to my belief that there's just not much that whining won't make worse. If you need help, ask for help. Humble yourself enough to ask. Risk the yes. Accept the no. Trust the universe.

As a small business owner with no advertising budget, I use Facebook and Instagram as well as a blog to promote my business. I know this is frustrating to some people and they are completely justified in hiding me from their newsfeed or unfriending me if they find this offensive but it's my responsibility to be mindful of the fact that most people aren't signing on to Facebook to see pictures of my food. I try to think of Facebook as a party I am mingling at. In many of my conversations we will talk about what we do professionally and for fun. We'll talk about kids and weather and we might touch on spiritual or political topics but most of us will be careful to be mindful and respectful to those who may not share our views. If someone seems interested in what I do, it's not inappropriate for me to provide contact information or to whip out my phone and show a few examples of my work but I wouldn't stand on the coffee table and shout at people explaining that the only reason I came to this !@#$ party is to get some business and you people suck for not understanding that! "Some people have bills to pay!"

The truth is, we all have bills to pay. Some of us use social media as a tool to help us do that, many don't. There are lots of people who have found a way to use tools like FB to help build very successful MLM businesses, but 99% of those people would build a very successful business without it. Facebook is a convenient tool but as someone who has used it for years now it has not ever provided enough business to pay our bills.

I also know what it's like to be afraid that I'm just not going to be okay this time. That feeling is a frequent visitor at my house and it's easy to slip into the trap of studying other people's lives via social media and to feel like if I had just a little more of what they have I'd be alright. During those times it is important for me to remember that I AM okay, that I am not in the judgement business, and that if financial security is my #1 priority perhaps selling lemon bars to friends isn't my best plan. There are lots of dues to be paid, lots of mistakes to be made and I am still very much in the learn as you go phase of my development. And frankly sometimes you just have to turn off the computer and do something/anything else for a little while. There was a guy I met a years ago who owned a gift shop that he closed down to get what he called a real job. I asked him why and I still remember his answer, "Honey, when you're laying awake at three in the morning wondering how many scented candles you have to sell to make your mortgage, it's time to rethink your plan."

I'm not giving up on my lemon bars yet, but I know there may come a time when I have to "get a real job" in order to continue to pursue my dreams of air conditioning and cell phone service and whether I am a full-time caterer or not, I'm going to want to still have some friends share with no matter where my path goes. Peace, love and real butter!