Friends with Benefits – Giving Away Your Business

In the years I have lived in Mexico, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon among business owners and their friends, that I can only attribute to cultural differences between where I grew up and where I live now.

In Canada, and I suspect this also happens in the U.S.,  when you open a new business, you put out the word and where do you start? Friends and family of course. And your friends and your family will come and check out your new venture, congratulate you perhaps and wish you well; they will also buy stuff. No matter if you are making empanadas or ear wax candles, they will probably pick up something to support your latest entrepreneurial effort. They appreciate the time and work put into the logo, the concept, the locale if you have one, and the actual products themselves and they want to support you, so they buy something, even if they really have no use for it. They’re your support base and they want you to succeed, so they do.

Here in sunny Mexico, things are a little different. You open your doors or Tupperware container on the corner and let your friends and family know. They will all show up of course; they do love you after all and most of them want you to succeed except for the ones that don’t who will voice unwanted opinions on your product, your idea, your enthusiasm. The goal is to not let you get ‘too big for your britches’ so to speak; they do it out of love and for your own good and that when you fail, you won’t feel so bad and they can say “te lo dije” And, as George Lopez would say “so you learn”

And while they love you, they love anything free even more. And this invitation to see your new business is exactly that: an opportunity to get something for nothing because you’re family! So instead of buying anything, they will ask – in some cases demand – that you invite them to everything on the menu, or in the case of ear wax candles, a free candle to take home. This is not hinted at; no, this is expected and you had better cough up or else your friendship or familial relationship will be in peril.

Where does this come from I wonder? I am not an anthropologist but would love to hear from anyone who has a theory.

4 thoughts on “Friends with Benefits – Giving Away Your Business

  1. I suspect you must have a wonderful family; mine is mixed, divided evenly between the yay-sayers and the nay-sayers. Some are naively enthusiastic and others just plain vindictive (pass up the free samples & head straight for the “I told you so” aisle so they can be first in line but will start pointing out your mistakes before you’ve even made them). Given that the latter are lazy, spoiled & over-privileged, I think this has less to do with culture & more to do with psychological profiles, for lack of a better term. I like what Jim Carrey said (although my understanding might be different from his): “If you’re going to fail, fail doing what you love, at least then you’ll be happy”. And when the nay-sayers see this, then everyone will be happy… (sarcasm spoiler alert)

  2. Perhaps you are right, John, it’s more of a profile thing. I’m generalizing of course, and there are exceptions here and there.

  3. Hi Ralf,

    Loved your article! And yes, I am no anthropologist either so I sure can’t pass on any enlightenment.
    The phenomenon is hard to fathom sometimes!

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