Business owners and other professionals who happily lead busy lives in pursuit of dreams, here are 5 things that I absolutely know you will understand and relate to.
[Your date:] So when can I see you again?
[You:] Ummm….. I think I can pencil you in… in 2 weeks…
Business owners tend to be busier than the Average Joe. No offense, Joe, but in addition to what should be a normal calendar, we’ve also got meetings/seminars that occur off business hours, catching up with fellow business owners so we can talk shop, as well as networking events and other social obligations where we have to make an appearance. I’ve found that sometimes this is a tough area for friends and relationships. My best advice is to know that we are making an effort, and if something slips through the cracks its okay (like, don’t panic and don’t take it personally). Also, be okay with getting on the calendar, even if its a couple weeks out. We’re really good about blocking out days and time for people and sticking to them. We’re not so great at being available at the last minute to do something.
[Your friend:] Hey! It’s 5 o’clock! Time to shut the computer off and have a drink!
[You:] Well wait, I’ve still got to send out 10 more emails, schedule 2 meetings and finish this mock up.
So, the average employee ends their work day nicely at 5PM. In most cases, that’s also the cut off time for thinking about all-things job related. I get it, and I’m not complaining. I personally don’t mind if my day runs past 5PM. I love what I do, and my stopping time varies from one day to the next. So we may show up a little late to happy hour. Or, we may miss happy hour all together and be more inclined to grabbing a bite after. Stop pressuring us! If you work in a more casual office, bring a beer to my desk so I can start to wind down at 5pm while I finish up the tasks. If you’re leaving to meet up with others, tell me where you plan on going and say it’s cool for me to join in late. That’s so much better than having the fate of your happy hour rest in my computer-tied hands.
[Your friend:] Yo! You’re free for a late morning coffee chat right? I mean, you work for yourself…
[You:] Actually no, I have a deadline I’m trying to hit today.
Just because we’re our own boss, doesn’t mean that our days are always flexible and fancy free. Have you seen my to-do list lately? There is always something to do. Don’t get upset if we can’t jump right up and join you for something right on the spot. It’s nothing personal. A better alternative would be “Hey, I’m planning on being near your office for lunch today. Would you be free to eat together, or perhaps around for a quick coffee after?” or we would really love you if you said “Hey, I’m planning on being in your neighborhood on Friday (3 days from now), would you be around to grab lunch or a quick coffee?” See how it easy it is to plan in advance? And, if we still can’t make that happen, and you’re near by, you could offer something along the lines of “well, I’m going to be so close, if you’re in the office, let me drop off your favorite cup of coffee.” Oh my!!!! Marry me!!!!
[Your friend:] WHOOO HOOO It’s Friday night! Let’s go party!!!!
[You:] Can’t believe I survived this crazy week. Hello Netflix, take-out and wine!
Business owners can be some of the hardest working people that I know. Generally at the end of a really long workweek, I’m almost fantasizing about what I will watch on Netflix while I uncork a bottle of wine and relax. Slowly, my shoulders start to come down. Don’t mess with a business-owner’s down time. First, we’re most likely exhausted; you’d be embarrassed if we fell asleep at the bar right? Instead, say “hey, I’m thinking of getting a couple folks together to go out on Friday night. Want to join?” That’s a signal to me as a business owner. I can look at my schedule, I can make the night before my down-time night, and then be ready to go out on Friday. There’s that planning thing again. Take notes, kids. Now, this is not to say that there won’t be times when we can go out on the turn of a dime. Sometimes a long day deserves an instant remedy of wine, beer, and food. Just, don’t take offense if we’re not available for your weekend shake down.
[Your friend:] I texted you on Monday and you didn’t text me back.
[You:] What? It’s Thursday already?!?! Did I step into a time warp?!?!?
Okay this is going to be a tough one to grasp, maybe. Get this, the less distractions that I have during the time that’s allotted to focusing on my business, the more efficiently I work and the more things get done. When things get done, awesomeness happens like clients being happy, invoices being paid, work being assigned, etc. This, makes me not the best texter. In fact, I often mention it as “needs improvement.” We’re not ignoring you, we’re just juggling a lot of different pieces, and unintentionally we can drop one. Don’t take it personal. Instead, send a friendly reminder text, “hey, just checking in. I never heard back if you wanted to see a movie next week.” Then we can say “Oh yeah, let me check my calendar and shoot a couple dates over.” Do not be offended if we say “Oh I totally forgot. Can we try the following week instead?” and don’t set us up for failure by not reminding us at all and then internalizing our delayed response. Passive aggressive much?
At the end of the day, we want to have beautiful friendships and amazing relationships just like everyone else. The dynamics of the way we work though, require just a little bit more effort and twice the patience. I promise it’s worth it.