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If you’re anything like me, your friendships were formed before you made the jump into full-time entrepreneurship. Although I’ve always had a business, it recently became my primary source of income in the past year and it’s made some changes in my social schedule. Whereas before, every weekend was pretty much open for friend-time, now I’m scheduling friend-time around meetings, deadlines, and location. It can be pretty tough and if your friends require more in-person social time, you might find yourself in some rocky situations. I want to talk about some ways that I’ve been managing my social circles while still keeping my business afloat.
Making the Jump
When starting to transition into being more business-focused, I was still working a 9-5 which meant no time for social events during the week. It was a bit overwhelming having to decline so many invitations but it really helped my friends transition into my new schedule. I would make exceptions for really important events but last-minute hangouts were pretty nonexistent. In the beginning, it’s important that you’re communicating your schedule with your friends and helping them understand why this is the best decision for you. Here are some easy tips to remember when you’re starting your journey:
- Not everyone understands what goes into owning a business. Try to be patient when explaining why it takes you four hours to answer e-mails.
- Focus on the positives! While it may be easy to complain about e-mails, marketing, and bad clients, try to focus on the positive aspects of having your own business. It helps your friends understand why you’re spending your Saturday night bookkeeping instead of going out with them.
- Talk about schedules early. Luckily, most of my friends are career-oriented or entrepreneurs themselves, so this part was easy. If your friendships are based on last-minute hangouts or coffee trips, you might want to be clear about the importance of scheduling meetups ahead of time. It’s just easier for everyone involved and it helps you transition into a new schedule.
The plight of the twenty-something is that friendships do change. When you’re running a business, sometimes that can be apparent very early on. Brand management is hard to do, especially when you have friends who don’t quite understand certain boundaries. I do a lot of social media work for my business and this blog so it’s important for me to make sure I’m setting a standard for my brand. Unfortunately, not all of my friends can understand that. It was time to set some boundaries and sometimes those boundaries can end friendships.
- Keep your personal and business social media lives separate. I don’t have any of my clients listed on my personal social media accounts, like Facebook. If I do, it’s because we were really close friends prior to doing business. I do, however, occasionally add blog buddies and it’s important that I’m aware of what’s being tagged/posted on my wall. Can you imagine how stressful it would be if your clients were all your friends? Make a separate account for your business and make sure your friends know, it’s business only. They’re free to support it but you don’t need posts asking about grandma from your uncle on your business page. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen to a business before and it was embarrassing.
- Address problems as soon as they arise. If you have a friend who makes really inappropriate jokes or seems to tag you in every chain image on Facebook, just let them know that you love them but it’s becoming a little inappropriate. Of course, this can cause conflict, but it’s easier to just stop problems before they get too out of hand.
- Friendships will end. Come to terms when you realize you’re having issues with a friend who has issues with the changes you’re making. It’s easy to address it with them and share your feelings, but in the end, sometimes people aren’t in it for what you’re doing for yourself. It sucks but you’re better off and it happens, entrepreneur or not.
Remember the Small Things
One of the things that makes it easy for me to manage my friendships is that I love what I do. I’ve never been happier working on things, no matter how difficult it is. My friends can obviously see that and in turn, it makes them happy for me. I’m good at what I do so I can always take time to manage my social life while still keeping my business a priority. It’s the small things that count. Here are some things I’ve been doing to make sure my friends still feel like I care, because I do!
- Cards are a girl’s best friend. I just love to give my friends cards, especially just because cards or to say thank you. A handwritten note of appreciation goes a long way. I love getting notes from my friends and I keep them all over my office.
- Texting is amazing! Can you imagine being a freelancer prior to the days of instant communication? You’d have to pick up the phone, hope they were at their desk, or leave a message on the answering machine. It’s a lot of work! I send love messages to my friends with quotes or things that I’ve been thinking of that reminds me of them. If we haven’t been able to meet in a while, it just helps them to know, you’re always on my mind. I know some people enjoy e-mails or voice messages which all can work.
- Do the impromptu. #TREATYOSELF Every now and again, just ask if a friend is available for lunch and drive out to where they work. Take an afternoon coffee break. It’s just important to keep the element of surprise in every now and again and accept a friend’s offer when they ask, especially if they really need it. I know how it feels to have a tough week and all you need is time to chat it out. I definitely try to make time for those chats. Just don’t feel obliged to make it an everyday thing but once a month doesn’t hurt.
I have crazy social circles and so some of these things work for some and some don’t work for others. It’s important to be able to balance relationships as it’s another part of growing up. Maybe in a few months, I’ll let you know how catastrophic things get when you add a baby into the mix.
How do you manage your friendships and your business life?