10 Unconventional Ways to Mix Business and Pleasure
Look, I’m really into brainstorming—not only have I created a business around it, but I make a point to make it a part of my personal life too.
There have been many ‘date nights’ that have turned into me getting out my easel and giant notepad to make my boyfriend and I ‘workshop’ our future.
The point is, I’m all about it.
When my boyfriend isn’t in the mood for venn diagrams and different colored markers—I turn to my freaky friends.
These are the friends that can’t help but mix business with pleasure—on top of complaining about how women’s clothing needs more pockets and discussing true crime podcasts we also love to talk-through business ideas, ‘whiteboard’ plans, and think of ways to collaborate.
It's our therapy—we love to hangout and work on our businesses at the same time.
And, I know some of you are the same way.
So, for my fellow #freakinthespreadsheets who can’t seem to ‘turn it off’ here are a handful of things to do with your fellow business friends so you don’t have to do normal stuff like go to happy hour or an amusement park.
Sisterhood of the Traveling-Business-Pants
PLAN A BRAINSTORMY RETREAT TOGETHER
There are plenty of entrepreneur travel groups, but if you guys aren’t feeling hanging out with a bunch of strangers—make a plan to travel with a group of people you like.
Book a beach house, rent a cabin–whatever you’re feeling/can afford and get some of your best business junkies together for a workshop retreat.
Who doesn’t want to storyboard with friends while they’re sipping drinks that were made in your shared-kitchen-at-the-beach-house you rented with friends? If that doesn’t sound like paradise to you, then you’re not who I thought you were.
Plus all the fun planning sessions leading up to the retreat will give you guys another excuse to hang out.
Andie Tip: Take turns facilitating workshops. For example: say you have a person in the group who is great at marketing and maybe he can help you guys make an editorial calendar, or maybe you’ve got a coder in the group and she can can give you a quick tutorial on launching a Sqaurespace site.
Residency’s are coming back in a huge way. Maybe they never left, I’m pretty out of the loop on what’s cool, but, what I’ve noticed is they’re not just for artists anymore.
Why don’t you and your business buds get a place together in a new city for a month or two? Sometimes it’s good to get away and gain some perspective. Plus, you might even make some new contacts in a new city!
Andie Tip: There are a couple of house swap apps out now, that way you don’t have to pay double rent that month. Love Home Swap, caught my eye. Full disclosure: I’ve never used them.
ATTEND CONFERENCES YOU'RE ACTUALLY INTERESTED IN
Conferences aren’t as fun without going with colleagues.
I used to love conference days when I worked at my first big-girl job after college. We loved getting to ‘network’ which meant pretending to talk to other people, but we were really just running out the clock until happy hour.
But, conferences are tough to justify when it’s just you. So a lot of solopreneuers may want to go to conferences, but don’t really want to go alone.
Get together with a couple friends and do a conference that’s actually interesting: one that maybe you didn’t get to go to when you were working your 9-5.
My friend Tamara (who designed Andie's site and is also a chocolate maker) and I are toying with the idea of going to see Tony Robbins in Florida.
Judge me all you want, but spooning with Tony Robbins is on my bucket list (while he whispers “Take control of your own destiny” into my ear).
Keep it Local
HOST: PAID, IN-PERSON (OR ONLINE) WORKSHOPS TOGETHER
Say your friend is a boho-chic graphic designer and you’re a romance novelist (this is my dream friendship btw). Why don’t you guys host an in-person workshop on how to design creative assets to help promote new novels?
Decide on what you want to get out of it (publicity, a buttload of money, breaking into a new market?) and how much you want to make—offer enough seats to make this event profitable.
Co-working spaces are usually open to host these because it gets new people in the door. It’s not going to be free, but it’ll be reasonable to rent a room of theirs for an hour or two.
Andie Tip: Creating a limited number of seats creates urgency/exclusivity and makes it easier to manage.
HOLD A CASUAL FOCUS GROUP AT YOUR PLACE
Got a new business idea, but want to get feedback before you pull the trigger?
Host a casual focus group with your friends at your place—it doesn’t have to be anything official.
I did this once and it went beautifully. I invited all of my close girlfriends and we drank champagne and ate a lot of pound cake I bought from the Publix bakery.
Andie Tip: Definitely have a facilitator (I used Abby for mine). A facilitator will keep you on track because inevitably you’ll get off topic.
Bonus Andie Tip: Oh, and make sure to record the session so you can access it later (be sure to ask permission first).
HAVE A FRIEND PHOTOSHOOT
Need new headshots or photos for your site, but feel awkward doing it alone? You and a couple of your friends should hire a photographer and hit up all your favorite spots in town.
It’ll be an excuse to get out of your overstretched Target workout plants and put on some lip stain for the day. Plus, IT’S A BUSINESS EXPENSE.
At my previous business we hired a photographer for our Grand Opening party. What was great is not only did we get photos of us (the owners) looking the opposite of staged, but also pictures of people having a great time in the space —it made for great stock photos down the road.
Andie tip: If you don’t have a place to take the photos you can use a service like home studio, which provides unique spaces for photo shoots. Or, have a party/get-together at your place (if it will ‘fit’ with your website/business theme).
START A BREAKFAST CLUB
Or, if you’re one of those “skips breakfast” people (first of all, how dare you?) you can always do a lunch (burrito club is a thing) or dinner club (supper club? It makes me feel like my grandmother when I say that).
Every time you guys meet, have everyone bring something they want to talk-through or workshop. You can also focus on one person each meeting and alternate each time you meet.
Andie Tip: Ask people to invite some of their friends or colleagues and rotate them out each week—so, you guys can network and do some soul-sharing at the same time. Here is a list of some Charlotte places.
CREATE YOUR OWN CO-WORKING
If you’re not ready to join a coworking space, round up your fellow work from home club members and rotate working from each other’s houses.
Switch off days that you guys host each other. Maybe if it’s at your place have others bring refreshments and make a point to do lunch with each other and explore each other’s neighborhoods.
Or, if you guys want to try out the coworking spaces in your area most of them will let you try it for free or they sell day passes. Might be a great way to find your future office.
Andie Tip: Fridays probably work best for “co-working days” because you might be a little distracted if you’re used to working on your own. Fridays are usually a great day to be distracted.
HAVE A VISION BOARD NIGHT
Get out your Epicurious magazine that accidentally got delivered to your place instead of your neighbors (sorry, Whitney. You’re not getting this back), grab some poster board, put on 30 Rock and call your friends over.
Andie Tip: I will give a free session to someone who makes their vision board look like it belongs in a detective’s office.
Dear, Abby Your Worklife
SCHEDULE COUNCIL CHECK-INS
I consider all of my friends as part of my Council, or the Board of Directors of my life—so it’s important for me to do weekly/bi-weekly check-ins with each of them and vice versa.
We come prepared with something we want to work through and take turns sharing. I try to take notes (like I would in a regular meeting), so the next time we meet I’m fully prepared and can properly follow-up—otherwise, I tend to make the meeting all about me.
Andie Tip: You can adjust check-ins to fit your schedule (could be every month), also coffee doesn’t have to be the only beverage you consume. *insert a lushy wink*
GIVE EACH-OTHER HOMEWORK
After my check-ins with Abby she always gives me homework. When her and I were working on separate personal projects this was a great way to hold each-other accountable.
Maybe you have a side project you want to start and your friend has a blog post they need to write—try giving each-other homework and schedule the deadline the next time you see each-other. This kind of informal project management has really helped me.
Andie Tip: This doesn’t just have to be business-related. We’ve given each other homework for personal stuff - working out, not working out, calling our mother’s, etc.
GET YOURSELF A PENPAL LIKE NATALIE PORTMAN
Have a business friend that’s not local anymore? Start emailing business love letters to each other.
Go deeper than just, “How are you?” Talk about your anxieties, something funny that happened, what you’re working on, etc.
It’s like keeping a journal, but having someone react to what you say.
This idea was inspired by Natalie Portman’s and Jonathan Safran Foer’s email exchanges that were released to the New York Times.
Andie Tip: Try to email every 2 weeks, or it’ll be easy to give up. Also, this isn’t exclusive to far away people; I’ve done this a couple of times with friends that are in the area. It’s really just a chance to be more reflective.
If you’re interested in this idea we have a surprise for you coming in June. Sign up here to get access to it when it comes out.
Now get out there and have some passionate business affairs, well don’t be destructive with your life but you get the idea.
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