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Building a professional and personal dream life requires one essential thing: Relationships. Romantic and familial relationships are often front and center, but our platonic relationships are absolutely essential to our development as busy entrepreneurs.  Friends provide us with emotional support, understanding, and a sense of belonging that can’t be easily replicated. They offer a unique perspective, a listening ear, and a safe space to share our joys, struggles, and aspirations.

When I reflect back on my most challenging times and fondest memories of my entrepreneurial journey, friends are at the core of my story of survival and recognition. My friends have, and continue to, help me navigate life’s ups and downs, giving me a break from work stress, and reminding me that I am not alone in my journey.

In this article, I’ll delve into the importance of fostering and maintaining friendships while navigating the demands of entrepreneurship, offering valuable insights and practical strategies to help you cultivate meaningful relationships that enrich your life.

Maintaining Friendships as an Entrepreneur

Finding time for friendships can be challenging in our fast-paced lives. However, we can nurture these relationships with conscious effort and prioritization. Here are my five strategies to maintain friendships as a busy entrepreneur:

1. Schedule Regular Meet-Ups

Set aside dedicated time in your schedule to meet up with friends. Whether it’s a monthly dinner, a weekend brunch, or a weekly phone call, consistent interaction fosters a strong bond and keeps the friendship alive.

In my own life, I typically dedicate 2-3 nights a week to catching up with friends. Since my schedule is hectic, daytime hours are reserved for work-related commitments and events. Evenings are for dinner and undistracted conversations with friends and family — or alone time to recharge. This balance allows me to get through my work week uninterrupted while staying connected to my friends and also making needed time for myself.

2. Embrace Technology

Leverage technology to stay connected with near and long distance friends. Video calls, text messages, and social media platforms offer convenient ways to check in, share updates, and show support, even when physically apart.

I love the way technology has brought ease into my life as an entrepreneur, and this includes managing my relationships. During the pandemic, FaceTime and Zoom video calls were normalized as a more intimate way to connect with friends and family. I still leverage those tools to video chat with long distance friends or when travel takes precedence. The visual element of video calls creates a stronger bonding experience for me, more so than voice or text alone.

3. Prioritize Quality over Quantity

As a busy entrepreneur, spending extensive time with every friend is not always feasible. Instead, focus on quality interactions. Engage in meaningful conversations, be present when together, and show genuine interest in each other’s lives, fostering a deeper connection.

My rule of thumb? Phones down. Whenever I schedule time with friends, I do it with the intention of being fully engaged. I set the expectations for myself and others to mute phone notifications so we can be immersed in our scheduled time together. While I know this can be stressful (and not always feasible if something urgent is going on in the background), it is the most considerate and effective way to show up, especially if you’re seeing friends who you don’t get to see as frequently.  

4. Collaborate on Activities

Combine socializing with pursuing common interests or hobbies. Plan group outings, join classes or clubs, or organize events where you can bond over shared activities. This way, you can enjoy quality time with friends while engaging in something you all love.

This is also a great way to sneak in some wellness activity into your schedule. If your busy schedule often blocks you from managing your ideal routine, optimize your time by bringing a friend or two along your ritual. Walking outdoors is one of my favorite wellness modalities. I’ll occasionally have a friend join me on my walk or will do a phone catch up with a friend while on a solo walk.

5. Be Understanding and Flexible

Recognize that everyone has different time constraints and responsibilities. Understand that your friends may have busy lives, too. Be flexible and accommodating, and encourage open communication about time availability and limitations. Good friends will understand and support each other’s obligations.

I try to always remain flexible and realistic when it comes to my own schedule, so I extend that grace to my friends often. I’ve found that this step is crucial to maintaining long-term relationships and it’s a true test of who you’re most aligned with. Communication, of course, is key to mutual understanding. If and when I need to share my new availability or capacity, I try to communicate that sooner than later and make plans for the future as soon as possible.

Managing Friendship Expectations as an Entrepreneur

As we navigate entrepreneurship, managing friendship expectations and understanding the dynamics of growing responsibilities is important. Consider these three points as you manage your friendships:

1. Diverse Sensitivities Towards Time

Different people have varying approaches to time management. Respect and appreciate each friend’s pace and capacity. Avoid unnecessary pressure and understand if plans or commitments need adjustment.

2. Have Honest Conversations

Engage in open, honest conversations about your limitations and capacities. Discuss your availability, responsibilities, and personal challenges. You can foster understanding and maintain realistic expectations by communicating your boundaries and needs.

3. Embrace the Ebb and Flow

Friendships, like life, are dynamic. Understand that relationships can experience fluctuations, with some friends moving in and out of our lives. Embrace these natural shifts, appreciating the memories shared and welcoming new connections that come your way.

Nurturing Our Vital Connections

While I’m not always perfect at managing every friendship in the way I want, I wrote this article to shed light on ways you can show up and do your best, even when time is challenging.  Friendships are invaluable sources of support and joy that make navigating the ups and downs of entrepreneurship possible. As we build our dreams, businesses, and other relationships, remember the significance of maintaining and nurturing these connections.

How do you balance friendships in your busy life? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!