Who do you talk to about your retail business? Are they sympathetic, pandering almost? Or, do they challenge your perception of your business?

Do they agree with everything you say? Do they offer pity as a response for you explaining your situation?

Good friends will challenge what you say. They will ask tough questions to test what you say about business performance. They will not put up with a victim mentality. They will want to know what you are doing to improve your situation and that your actions are rooted in your business data.

If your friends don’t challenge you when you talk about your business consider seeking out others you can talk to who do challenge you.

Owning a business of any size can be tough and lonely. Owning an independent store in 2016 in the UK is hugely challenging with consumer habits continuing to change and new regulations effecting profitability.

In your business it is rare that you will be challenged. In your immediate family, too often, you will not be challenged. This is why you need to seek out those who could and will challenge you. You need to be challenged. Your plans need to be tested through tough questioning. While some good friends will do this for you, many will not.

So, who should you talk to?

Seek out people who will give you a truthful assessment of what you say, and people who will have an opinion and be unafraid to share it. You want people who will actively listen to you and give you their insights.

Seek out people who will want the same from you. The ideal friendship is one that is equal, open and honest in conversation. This is what retail business owners need – people who can help them see what they may not be seeing for themselves.

Footnote: only you can know your situation, your challenges and your friends. The purpose of this post is to ask the question, so you can conclude what is right for you.