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Being an entrepreneur can be isolating. Too often, we’re forced to choose between our business and our friends. So much of our early success relies on how comfortable we are with the uncomfortable: missing social gatherings, sacrificing major milestones, and compromising our schedules. It’s easy to overwork ourselves, underpay ourselves, and give up our social lives. The importance of social interaction for entrepreneurs is undermined more than we think.

Still, you also know how beautiful the journey can be. If you’re reading this, you’re invested in your success. Whether it’s launching your small business, starting a new round of funding, or searching for a community of like-minded business owners, you know why we do this. The milestones, hard-earned successes, and breakthrough moments fuel our passion. Yes, being an entrepreneur is challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

As you follow this rewarding path, your personal well-being might be low on your priority list at times. That’s why it’s deeply important to do whatever you can to stay present, healthy, and motivated. There are, of course, the old standbys: Rest when needed and stay on top of self-care. But, one thing we may underestimate is the power of social interaction. Being intentional about social well-being as an entrepreneur is easier and less time-consuming than it may seem. Before I share some ways to prioritize social interactions even with a full schedule, let’s dive into why having a healthy social life is so important in the first place.

The Benefits of Social Interaction

Regardless of where you are on your journey, social interaction is a powerful remedy for the hardships of adulthood and entrepreneurship. People with close friends are half as likely to die early, and those who spend six combined hours a day with their friends and family are 12 times more likely to feel happy. These numbers in combination with statistics about being an entrepreneur — 20% fail after two years, 50% after five years, and 70% after 10 years — say it best: Isolation and burnout go hand in hand.

However, maintaining a thriving social life can seem easier said than done. How we interact socially evolves as we grow older, but this is especially true for entrepreneurs. I was way more social and community-driven in my 20s post-college and while working at Goldman Sachs. The post-college remnants of social norms and close friendships helped ease the transition into adult life. Similarly, navigating life at Goldman led to intense bonds through shared experiences. However, once I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey, my focus switched. I had less time to cultivate friendships as I zeroed in on building a successful business.

Socializing as an Entrepreneur

Cultivating relationships is fundamental for entrepreneurs. The process of building and maintaining trust is essential. After all, trust is a key indicator of a successful business. Teams who trust their leadership feel 74% less stress and 40% less burnout than those who don’t. Think about the last time you worked with someone you didn’t trust. How did that feel?

Even if you aren’t ready to hire a team, I can tell you from experience that, at some point, your ability to connect with folks will make a difference.

“My journey would be completely different if I hadn’t built some amazing relationships along the way.” – Nancy Twine

As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly communicating with different people: vendors, customers, and the list goes on. The ability to adapt your communication for different audiences is critical.

Learning how to socialize early on as an entrepreneur will broaden the scope of what’s possible for your business. Recognize the difference between networking and connecting, gain a deep understanding of your communication style, and, above all, find ways to maintain meaningful connections wherever possible. 

Embrace the Change

Let’s take stock of how our sense of community changes as entrepreneurs. While you work to make your dreams a reality, certain dynamics will shift. That’s okay. This realization brought me so much peace when I exited Goldman Sachs.

Accepting that your relationships may change on your entrepreneurial journey is key. As founders, we often transition from being someone’s direct report to having our own team. Historically, the bulk of my circle was made up of co-workers, so when I transitioned from being an employee at Goldman Sachs to founder and CEO of Briogeo, the nature of my work relationships changed and my circle narrowed. Eventually, I learned to adapt how I navigated those relationships and embrace the change. It’s this change that leads to the most beautiful new chapters of a friendship.

Ways to Make Time to Socialize as an Entrepreneur

Making every interaction as intentional as possible transformed my view on socializing as an entrepreneur. It’s not about the amount of time, it’s about how the time is spent. Here are some ways to make the most of your time and be intentional about spending time with friends.

1. Make the most of the time you do have.

If you can only spare an hour or two of your week with friends, make sure to soak up every bit of that time. Plus, be intentional about the activity you choose to do together. Instead of heading to the movie theater, meet for a walk or a meal that lets you engage in conversation. Additionally, set boundaries so that you can maximize your socialization session: Do your best to put your phone away so you’re not answering emails or becoming distracted by incoming texts.

2. Incorporate social interaction into your to-do list.

Flexibility is essential to maintaining healthy relationships. Spending your Sunday meal prepping for a busy week? Invite a friend over and make it a time to cook together. Not only will that liven up an otherwise boring chore, but you’ll also spend quality time making something with a friend and catching up on each other’s lives.

3. Be together, even if you’re working.

Maybe you don’t have time to bring your work to a grinding halt — that’s okay. Grab a friend for a co-working session. Find a coffee shop or restaurant you’ve been meaning to try and make it a truly intentional moment. Break for 30 minutes between calls and emails to get the most out of your glorious new “third space.” Sometimes, all you need to feel energized is simply being in the presence of a good friend. 

As you try these methods of being intentional about social interactions, remind yourself of the importance of taking time out of your day to focus on personal relationships. Yes, your schedule is busy, and you might feel stressed about getting it all done, but setting aside time for social interactions will benefit you in so many ways. Entrepreneurship is a marathon and you’ll need trusted friends in your life to weather the ups and downs.

How do you plan to be intentional about socialization in your entrepreneurial journey? Let us know in the comments!