Q. "My friend is really excited about her new business venture. She assures me her coach and boyfriend think it’s a winner. Personally, I think it’s a harebrained scheme with zero potential. How can I be supportive but also realistic?"

A. You’re a good friend. It’s easy to send lots of empty cheer – but that won’t help. And you’re also wise to offer support. Sometimes the most harebrained schemers become multi-millionaires.

Here are some suggestions to offer even the most sensitive friend. And save them for the future, when it’s your turn to get excited.

1. Talk to at least six people who have walked the trail you want to follow. Recently a newcomer to my town shared her new business concept. I honestly thought it was a terrific idea, but urged her to talk to others who have started businesses here. For example, she needs to talk to residents who have worked with a supplier she is evaluating.

2. Hire a second opinion. You’ll get a whole new perspective. He may have experience directly related to your goal or ask the one question that will change your game plan.

3. Get a devil’s advocate. Friends – and sometimes coaches – may view themselves as your cheering section. "Whatever you do – I’ll support you" leads to good friendship, but challenging questions lead to great business decisions.

4. Move fast on information-gathering but slow on commitment. Great business people make lightning-quick decisions - -when they’ve spent years learning their market. And they usually write an escape clause in case the world hands them a surprise.

5. Celebrate action. You came up with an idea. You looked at three locations or considered six versions of a website. You talked to two consultants. And at the end of the day, you said, "I think I’ll pass. It’s not right for me at this time."

Go ahead and celebrate – you got off the couch and moved! You’ll be in great shape to recognize the next opportunity and you’ll progress much faster to your ultimate goal.

Author's Bio: 

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author and career consultant who provides resources for midlife professionals who face conventional and unconventional career challenges .