By Alison Bowen
Q: An acquaintance is launching a business selling products and/or soliciting startup funding. How do you sidestep the pitches without coming off as a cheapskate?
A: If a good friend and the product isn’t expensive, I’d buy one. I’d say, “This is to help you launch.” Obligation over, and it’s nice to do something for someone you care about.
If the friend solicits backing, he or she should use Kickstarter or a very large group email. That’s a polite, low-pressure way to ask. You can ignore it.
If the friend asks for money directly, you need a conversation. The friend will pitch, and maybe you’ll even like the idea! If not, be direct: “I love you as a friend but not as a business partner.” Stay away from what you can afford (the “cheapskate” problem). Instead, talk about keeping your relationship at a comfortable level.
You can certainly say, “I can’t afford it,” if true, and your friend knows it.
Just don’t lie to your friend. Assuming that this really is a friend, focus on maintaining the relationship. A friend who keeps asking is not a friend.
-Jane Bryant Quinn, personal finance expert for the AARP Bulletin
A: Of course it’s going to be difficult to tell your friend that you’re not interested in funding their business venture. Accept that you will feel initially uncomfortable and nervous to have the conversation.
Listen and acknowledge the amount of time and effort it took for them to start a business. Then kindly tell them that it’s not in your budget or plans to invest in any business ventures at this time. If they continue to push their pitch, firmly look them in the eyes and say no, and change the subject to another more pleasant topic.
-Tiffany D. Sanders, psychologist and author of “My Purpose Is For Real”