If you own your own business, it’s likely you’re not the norm in your friend group. Most people work for someone else and have a steady paycheck with pre-constructed hours, so your whole working-for-yourself-thing isn’t exactly regular in comparison.
From the age of 19 I worked full time while also going to school. I was constantly busy and exhausted, and that was acceptable to my friend group because they understood. Two years ago, I left my day job to start my own business and immediately people started referring to my situation as “not having a job” or at least “not having a real academic job“. It was funny for a while, honestly, especially because I kind of took the first couple months to let loose and celebrate my new found freedom.
Now if people say that I don’t have a “real job” I get offended. The harder I work, the more I realize that having your own business is at least the same amount of work as a real/office/desk/9-5/day job, if not more. If I “call out” (i.e. don’t do work that day), there’s no one who can cover for me. Everything is on my shoulders, and it can be a lot to juggle. My success is a direct result of how hard I work.
If you have your own business, it’s likely you’ve experienced some unfortunate commentary in regards to the legitimacy of your job. The more unconventional your profession, the less respect people have for it. That sucks, and I want to talk about what to do when your friends don’t respect your job.
Realize everyone isn’t going to “get it”
Trying to explain that you’re a blogger, life coach, freelance artisan or whatever to someone who doesn’t have any experience with that type of thing is kind of like speaking in a foreign language. It can be frustrating when people say things like “But… why?” with a judgmental head tilt or “How do you even make money doing that?” in a condescending tone, but you have to remember those are reactions based on ignorance. Your best friends and family might never truly understand what you do for a living, but that means they aren’t your target market and you aren’t doing what you do for them.
Join an online group for like-minded folk
There are like, a bajillion online Facebook and Mastermind groups for entrepreneurs, artists, and the like. Having a group of people (even if it’s only online) who totally get where you’re coming from is going to make you feel sane again. You can explain your product to someone in real life till you’re blue in the face, so being able to log into an online forum where you can share your experiences, complain, and get advice is priceless.
Be conscious with your words
Words have a lot of power, so don’t make jokes that you don’t have a job, either. If someone makes a joke about it in front of you, just nicely rephrase what they said to be “I’m actually a _____”. It also helps to come up with a very short, concise, and easy-to-understand elevator speech about what you do so you can easily explain it to strangers and new acquaintances. It can be a bit of a stretch so that it translates across populations, but having something you say about your job over and over again will start to sink into your friends’ minds and they’ll eventually start thinking of you that way, too.
Set boundaries and say no
One of the biggest issues I face in my life is people not accepting my time. I set my own schedule, so to most of my friends that equates to “Mary is constantly available”. When I tell people I can’t do X, Y, and Z because I’m working I’m met with a lack of understanding, frustration, and sometimes even guilt.
Creating your own work schedule is one of the most amazing parts of being self-employed, but ultimately the work still needs to get done! Sometimes you’re going to have to work even more than the standard 40 hour work week because you’re doing everything yourself, and sometimes you’re going to need to put in extra hours to pull off a special project. Don’t let anyone guilt you into doing something when you know you need to be working.
Make your feelings known
If setting boundaries isn’t getting you anywhere and your friends are still guilt-tripping you about spending time with them, you need to actually step up and say something. Explain that you’re doing your best to create a business you’re proud of and happy to work at and that takes a lot of time and effort. Say you appreciate that they want to spend time with you and you love spending time with them, but you need to have them respect your boundaries the same way you do with their schedule.
Ultimately, love yourself enough to stick up for what you do and make your job and passions a priority in your life, second to none.
Any additional advice from you self-employed femtrepreneur bad ass babes?