When I first started my business, I was working full time and single. About six months in, I met an incredible guy and had a few close friends who swore they hadn’t seen me in months. It’s very easy for us as business owners to fall into a trap of working 7 am to 7 pm or later when starting a business. Once it’s successful, we tend to work even later.
What do you do when you want to make it work and still have a social life? For me, it was all about balance and a few other keys to keeping my relationship and friendships successful without neglecting my business and vice versa.
How did I manage to build a business and nurture these relationships without either one of them suffering?
1. I choose the right people to surround myself with.
I have always been told the saying “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” When I first started my business I had a ton of friends but only a few close friends. I found out that sometimes going out to clubs or large house parties were fun, but didn’t help me grow my business or create meaningful relationships. I didn’t drop those friends right away but as I began to spend less time with them and allocated that time to my closest friends they began to drop themselves.
Also, I have found that when you start a passion project like a business, those who support you and what you do tend to be more flexible. They help pick you up when you’re down more than a friend who just likes to hang out with you at a party.
2. I evaluated my time carefully.
This was huge and the hardest for me to master, so be patient if this takes a few months. With that said, I will admit I am a massive workaholic. I love my business, and when I started it, I hated my job. So I would want to spend 40 hours a week doing my business instead of working if I had the choice. If I had worked 80 hours a week and slept seven hours a night, that only leaves me with 39 hours in a day to unwind, commute to and from work, shower, eat, and do laundry. At first glance I thought this was more than enough time. You quickly realize that those extra hours in a week are not enough to do all the things you need to and see a friend or two.
I combated this time issue in two ways: First, I made myself some business hours. I created a side business schedule to give myself time to put in at least 20 hours a week of work. This way I wasn’t getting burned out, I was still seeing my friends, spending time with family, and growing my relationship.
Second, I made sure that what I was working on was either going to make me money or build a connection I needed to do that. This means I would prioritize things like connecting with a referral partner or following up on a lead over picking out the right color blue for my website. It’s very easy to get bogged down with all the little things we think we have to do, but if it won’t make you money now–it’s not worth the time.
3. I used my relationships as insurance against burn out.
I remember the first time I got business burnout. It was horrible. I had the worst case of writers block I have ever had in my life; I felt as though I was getting sick, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Turns out that week I was averaging around 80 hours of work and about four hours of sleep a night. My best friend Amanda told me I had to go on side business vacation that consisted of me watching a ton of Netflix, seeing friends and reading fiction. Things I hadn’t done in months.
Now I make sure to plan at least one friend outing a week. This lets me make sure I am getting out there, being social, and not working in front of a computer all day and all night.
I wish I could tell you this workaholic syndrome gets better when you take your business full time. It doesn’t. I’ve had to go over my tips each and every time I think I am about to fall into the same traps I did two years ago when I started a relationship and was still building a business. At least now you know how to create a little balance between your life and your business without neglecting either.
Photo: Flickr/ Ed Yourdon