I had an amazing conversation with one of my favourite cousins recently (you know who you are, Canada! Lol), and we spoke about what can happen to friendships when you start a business. The main focus of our conversation was the fact that when you start a business, priorities and interests can change or become more time consuming, affecting relationships.
So take, for example, your relationship with your best friend. You’ve known each other long enough to consider yourselves inseparable, of a like mind. You are each other’s backbone. And then comes the elephant in the room: your new bestie, your baby – aka your business idea, or your burgeoning business. She takes up all your time; she is the only person you want to talk about; and you are consumed with spending as much time with her as possible. You want to shop for her, do research on how to look after her, and you don’t have an interest in the frivolous chat you used to have with other people…Even your best friend.
Why do some people find it so difficult to understand that your focus and priorities have shifted and it’s nothing personal? Dear friends past and present: Just because we want to spend hours on your Facebook business page, on your website and designs and all things they think are mundane (but you’re actually l-o-v-i-n-g it!) doesn’t mean we love you any less. This is what the conversation with my dear cousin was about.
Does a new love have to mean that we are a Betty no mates?
What’s interesting is that between my cousin and I, we had quite a heightened level of not giving a hoot about how much we prefer to work on our business than not. And unapologetically so. I know you might say it’s a genetic thing – it really isn’t. I have a few business mum friends who often get their knuckles wrapped by their other halves for the same thing. It’s interesting how doing something we enjoy can be turned into a negative for those around us. So, are we really being antisocial or are we surrounded by needy and selfish people who want us to conform to their ideals; to bow down to what they or society says we should spend our time doing?
Over the years, I’ve managed to find myself in a position where someone has elected me as their BFF (best friend forever), without asking my permission first. Somehow, without knowing that my agreement to go for a coffee or meet up so I can talk them through using social media or branding their website has made me centre of a huge part of their universe. This is why I know I should have charged! The mesaage would have been clear, then. When I’ve helped them to reach a level where they can fly happily in their business, they take offence that I’m not available to just go for a coffee (for the sake of it), or spend hours on the phone talking about everything and nothing. It’s a burden, I tell you! What makes it worse is that my busy schedule (which they don’t realise I cleared to help them out of a rut in the first place!) is seen as avoidance; they think we’ve fallen out. I’ve been in this situation so many times – I could buy at least a week’s worth of caramel lattés if I had a fiver for every time this has happened since I started Mothers Who Work, back in 2007!
What I’ve learnt is that when you start a business, you will lose friends. Some will be a permanent loss because some friends just don’t understand why you’re so enthused about your business; why you’d rather stay in and work on your business than spend half a day in the park talking about what’s going in the life of the Kardashians or the latest baby food.
And you know what? It’s okay. The choice is simple: sacrifice my life for the wants of others; or live my life. If you’re a true friend who cares for me and wants to see me progress, you should support and encourage my endeavours. If you want me to drop all my dreams and aspirations to follow yours without compromise, then there’s a problem. And it’s not mine.