Friends in need Featured

7:00pm EDT February 28, 2007

The bigger your business gets, the more attention you will attract. Bigger suppliers become interested in doing business with you, and bigger customers start to take notice. But you also will get attention from the aspiring businessperson, the one who runs a small operation but isn’t doing as well as he or she could be doing.

These people are attracted to you because you’re obviously doing something right. They’ll approach you looking for advice, business, money, referrals or all four.

Your first reaction may be to send them packing because you don’t have the time or the patience. But maybe you should take the time to hear them out.

Odds are, somewhere along your climb to success, someone helped you out in some way. Maybe it’s time you did the same by doing your part to help improve the local business climate.

Before you jump in to help, make sure you are in a position to do so. Don’t try to help someone if you need help yourself.

People are typically looking for one or more of the following.

  1. Advice. Sometimes all people really need is guidance from someone who knows more than they do or a push in the right direction. In this case, you’re just sharing the wisdom you’ve gained during your own growth process.

  2. Business. Often people are looking for you to do business with them. They have a product or service they think your successful company might benefit from. Give them a chance. Maybe they can provide a better price or service than your current supplier. A little business thrown their way can really make the difference between survival and failure.

  3. Referrals. If you can’t use their particular product or service, they may want you to refer friends and colleagues their way. If you trust they’ll do a good job, refer someone to them.

  4. Money. Depending on your relationship with the person, you may be comfortable loaning him or her money directly, bartering services or even taking some sort of ownership stake in return for cash. Be cautious about lending someone money, but if you believe in this person and his or her business, then it may be worth the risk.

There are many ways to help another business, but never offer to help someone who isn’t asking, because doing so can offend that person. Those who ask are already showing leadership by admitting they don’t have all the answers, so why not consider hearing what they have to say and seeing if you can lend them a helping hand.

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at or (800) 988-4726.