5 Rules To Abide By If Your Friend Is An Entrepreneur
After making it public that I work for myself, I have experienced some of the craziest situations from friends (some now ex friends at their own discretion), and peers. Being an entrepreneur/small business owner is one of the greatest accomplishments I think anyone could achieve in life.
Needless to say (regarding the whole ex-friends part) most of my non-entrepreneur friends don't understand how much work, stress, and time goes into working for myself. So here is my short list of 5 rules (because I may have to break this up into multiple posts) that you should abide by if you are not the entrepreneur in your friendship.
1. No you cannot get my services products for a discount, for the "low low," or for free.
This is by far the most agitating rule to experience first hand and see others go through. In specific (photography and cooking) are professions that take years to master. Most importantly, they are pretty expensive to invest in (including financially, time away from family, and time). Yes we have been friends for (insert amount of months/years here), however, business is business.
You don't go to anyone else (hopefully) expecting to get a discount/free services/products just because you are friends and/or acquainted with them. Don't treat us any different! The only acceptable professionals that we all can haggle for better deals is car dealerships and realtors. That is the name of their games, which is understandable and respected.
We have bills, business fees, taxes, personal finances, and work related expenses to pay for on a daily basis. Pay full price or go somewhere else. 9 times out of 10 if you don't ask for special privileges, you may just get them (special privialges) if we can afford it (money and time wise).
2. Control of our time > Free time... there is a difference!
I don't know where in the heck the notion that we have an abundance amount of free time came from. All because we work for ourselves does not mean that we have this unforeseen amount of free time. Even as a Chef I was working 12 - 16+ hours a day on a set schedule. Now that I work for myself, I fall asleep every night with my iPad/phone/laptop/at the computer desk doing some kind of work. As entrepreneurs/small business owners (especially if we are sole-proprietors) time is of the essence. If we have free time, I speak on behalf of all the entrepreneurs/small business owners when I say this... we will let you know.
3. Do not (I repeat do not) expect an immediate response right away.
This ties into number 2 perfectly, which is why I set it up this way. Within the past 5 months I have had to sever ties with 5 friendships all because they did not get a response within 24 hours. These were people that I thought would definitely understand when I am busy during an entire day and I just don't get the time to respond to them. With my own first hand experience, an ex-friend who I told I was busy and could not talk right then and there became furious that I did not respond to them in 16 hours even though we talked the previous day for a little bit.
I can not re-count how many times I have been on auto pilot working an 18 hour day and thinking in my head I responded to someone. In reality, it was just a figment of my imagination and I responded to their messages phone calls in my dreams. Stuff like this happens with entrepreneurs/small business owners every single day. We have so much information and client work in the front of our minds that even if we think we messaged you, we probably didn't. If you are willing to end a friendship just because you didn't get a response when you wanted it from your entrepreneur friend, then that is on you.
Be respectful because even with our clients we typically have a 24-48 hour (sometimes even a week) window that we set in place for responding to messages. If you are going to be a true friend, be patient and respectful of our time. We are not ignoring you, we just have to use the same 24 hours in a day that you do to the best of our ability. If we had 26-30 hours in a day, we still wouldn't have enough time to respond to every client and friend.
4. Our weekends/days off feel like months!
Working as a Chef with a set schedule, (mixed in with trying to get my businesses going to this point) when I had time off I wanted nothing to do with work. Just like when you have your 9-5, go home and get some sleep, we as entrepreneurs typically have so much work to do that we rarely have an actual day off.
When I say I'm taking the day off from work, 90% of the time that doesn't mean my schedule is completely free from work. I still have marketing to do, I still have e-mails to answer while half sleep in my bed on my cell phone/iPad, I still check the metrics on my website's to see the activity on my websites, the list goes on and on forever.
Having a day off typically means I don't have as much work to do as I normally do on a regular work day. Even on vacations/trips to visit friends/family, I'm still doing work to some degree because I have to. If I have a complete day off of work, you better believe I am in bed watching Hulu or Netflix and eating my meals in bed.
I don't even remember the last complete day I had off when I didn't do any work at all! Right now I'm at the lake on what is supposed to be a break drinking coffee and I am writing this blog post on my iPad! Work never stops when you are an entrepreneur, we just try to find a few minutes/hours of freedom and take advantage of them to simply unwind from all the stress we have on our minds/bodies.
5. Don't rain on our parade!
Imagine you have just worked 40 hours a week, you finally get to have your weekend off from work and all you do is party (whether that means in-house parties or going to a club/bar). Now imagine working about 80+ hours a week for an entire month straight and finally having what you can consider two consecutive days off from work.
Entrepreneurs typically fit the latter. Now that we are out and spending time with you, don't rain on our parade by saying we are doing too much. Of course if you see your entrepreneur drinking too much alcohol or smoking cannabis (or whatever they decide to do as "partying") then by all means be the great friend that you are and look after us.
We all have perfected (or are at least close to perfecting) the art of having as much fun as possible during our "weekends/days off" while being safe. Once the fun is out of our system, we are definitely running back to our bed/significant other. After a few glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep before having to start working again for who knows how long without a break. Don't rain on our parade... don't you dare do it!