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5 Things Not to Say to Your Friend Starting a New Business

Starting a business during a pandemic requires courage, creativity, a willingness to learn new things fast, and the ability to take hits and still not quit. And, of course, women have what it takes to turn a business into a success story.

Your friend might just be one of them. And when she decided to put herself out there, she knew the risks that were involved — believe me.

Before judging or success-shaming her, try to understand the effort any woman puts into building a business. For example, women who found startups are 63% less likely to receive VC (venture capital) funding than their male counterparts. They start with fewer chances to succeed. Don’t make their lives harder than they already are by being a doubter or a hater.

Here are five things not to say when your friend starts a new business.

What Do You Know About Managing a Business?

This one is from my collection, and it came from a family member — which made it even more painful. Here’s the thing: No one is born an expert. Anyone can learn how to manage a small business, regardless of their previous jobs and educational background. For someone just starting, your disbelief can generate self-doubt and impostor syndrome. This question can have significant effects on your friend’s journey — especially in the beginning.

Online Business Isn’t a Real Business

This remark comes in several forms: “People like us don’t make money online.” “Are you sure this is legal?” or “Enjoy it while you can, because this online business stuff isn’t going to last forever.” Of course online businesses are real businesses — as is easily observed by looking at what online retail is doing to brick-and-mortar stores. If you have any doubts about the nature of your friend’s activity — and, pausing for a second here: why would you? — you can research it online or ask an accountant about the implications of running an online business. Only if you've really researched the risks should you even hint about your concerns.

Don't Spend Your Savings

Studies have shown that women are more cautious than men when it comes to finances and investing. If your friend has decided to put some of her savings into a new business, it didn’t come easy. Talking her out of it might cost her years of hard work that doesn’t pay off due to one decision she took based on your counsel. Are you ready to take that responsibility? If the answer is no, don’t offer unsolicited advice.

When Will You Start Looking for a Real Job?

Starting a business and keeping the wheels running make for two full-time jobs. A new business owner manages marketing, sales, product development, customer support, and cash flows. Then, she cleans the office and still finds time to have a coffee with you. Asking your friend when she's getting a real job is a sign you don’t care about her efforts. Plus, it’s a rude way to show you don’t trust her abilities.

Your Kids Have Too Much Screen Time — Just So You Can Stay on Facebook

According to a study by 99designs, 71% of mompreneurs are the family’s primary child care provider. Do they have to compromise sometimes to finish their tasks? Most likely, yes. Should they be judged for it? Most probably, not. Entrepreneurship is hard as it is. Your friend doesn’t “stay on Facebook all day” — she’s learning how to build a business and working hard to make her dream come true.

Every woman entrepreneur has a list of questions and remarks that hurt. For many, these words become the fuel that motivates them and pushes them to succeed. However, some women get hurt by these words. They start doubting themselves, lose motivation, put all their energy into fighting impostor syndrome, and maybe even quit at the first serious challenge.

Don’t make a hard job even harder with your words. Be kind and supportive when your friend starts a new business, if for no other reason than she might get rich one day and you’ll want her help to replicate that success yourself — or be invited onto her yacht.

This post is part of a month-long March CircleAround series, tied to Women's History Month — the first since the global pandemic that has disproportionately impacted women around the world — in which we asked writers to explore the topic of women's history in America, from the past to very much the present. To see all the posts in the series — including relevant news stories — visit hereAnd if you'd like to contribute to the series, send us your thoughts to or post on our "2021 Inspiration Wall."

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