maggie’s dream report: week thirteen

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So How’s Business?

If you ever meet me in person and happen to ask “So how’s business?” please forgive me if I’m extremely awkward. As I’ve become more and more confident introducing myself as a small business owner and decorator, more and more casual acquaintances tend to ask me how the business is going. And I never know how to answer.

You should be warned that in general I’m a very shy person. I can turn on the networking chatty skills, but it leaves me mentally drained. I am quite naturally chatty with my best friends, but I need a recovery quiet day after a lot of socializing. Textbook introvert.

Typically the questions “So how’s business” or “how is your new business going” are just innocent conversation topics. But I get really uncomfortable answering those questions. If I just say “It’s great!” it’s kind of a conversation staller and weirdly too-upbeat, but clearly they aren’t asking for my annual report and bank statements. Sometimes I get away with a jab at the old job, like “well, it sure beats that commute I had!” or by sort-of sharing that it’s DAMN HARD (which is the truth), saying something like “It’s tough, but I have some fun projects coming up.” Cause if you end with “It’s tough” PERIOD, that makes people uncomfortable. Not exactly what I’m going for at Ryan’s company picnic.

It’s a question of where the over-sharing line is, and how much information I want to divulge. But obviously there is more to starting a business than “it’s great!” as you’ve seen from some of my posts this month. Maybe I’m over-sensitive about it (Ryan thinks I’m making something out of nothing) but I hate feeling all squirmy.

So my question for you is, how much do you share with casual acquaintances (or prying family members) about your entrepreneurial efforts or dreams? If people know you’ve started a business or midnight hustle, do they ask how it’s going? Does it send you for a loop, or do you take it in stride?

Funny note: When I spent five years at my desk job, people always asked “So how’s life at XYZ?” My first year (during which I realized I’d made a huge mistake) I think I replied, “Can’t beat that paycheck!” By years 2-4 it had changed to “It’s a great learning opportunity” (HA!), and by my final year I’d say, “Why, are you hiring?”

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jill

    I’m terrible at “oh how is the blog going!?!?” questions… especially from close friends and family. Are they judging!?!? Do they think I’m crazy!?!? Do they think this is a fun hobby?!?! Do they realize it’s my job and pays like one!?!? Are they trying to determine if we are financially fit!?!?! I just always keep it super brief and make sure I express how much I enjoy what I am doing and how I am looking forward to pouring more time into it in the future. I always just hope that if they see my enthusiasm and happiness with it then that will be enough. Turning the conversation to them always works too – distraction as a coping mechanism!

  2. I am a “textbook introvert” as well, so I can totally relate to feeling uncomfortable with the “how’s business” question. From what I can tell it’s just one of those questions that most people feel obligated to ask, like “how are you?”… sometimes people truly care how you’re doing but more often it’s just empty conversation. I think you’re answer “it’s tough butive got some fun projects coming up” is a good one. It tells them that yes, it’s hard but you are enjoying the journey.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Ah another introvert here and I have trouble with this too. Recently, I’ve tried this–

    Start with something honest “It’s tough and I’ve been working a lot”
    AND then say something about a project you’re excited about, or a new service you’re offering or would LIKE to offer:
    “BUT, I’m really excited about X” or
    ” BUT I’m going to start offering X and am really thrilled about it.”
    While not being too “elevator pitch-y”, you’re letting people (potential future clients, or friends of future clients?) know what you do, and how you’re doing, in a pretty easy going way.

    Hope this helps too!

  4. Alicia

    I am the worst at this question too. It’s such an honest, friendly question and I’d probably be disappointed if people didn’t ask once in a while. And yet it starts my mind and pulse racing. I’m getting a little better at it, though, because I’m finally beginning to realize that even my most successful corporate friends sometimes wonder about starting something on their own.

  5. Nikell

    I see how that would be a tough call. I often look at it from a positive perspective. I’ll say things like “It’s going quite well, I enjoy the challenge” or “Pretty good, I’m always learning new things”. I agree with what Gaia – Illustration said.
    With my family, I tend to go more into detail. So I guess you kind of have to play it by ear and feel the conversation out. But I always remain positive.

  6. Margie

    Anecdotal answers is the way I handle it. I have one of those jobs that is tough to explain in a few words, so I talk about a specific project I’m working on or a problem we recently worked through. I doubt people want to hear about my recent budget approval process review. They are usually more interested in the day to day stories.

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