Ramping up a new business is challenging, and there's no doubt that some — emphasis on SOME — sacrifices have to be made. Destination weddings and big vacations may have to wait until your cash flow improves.
However, be careful not to fall into the trap of believing that any time spent away from your business is wasted or counterproductive.
There's an enormous pile of research spanning better than a century that proves humans need time off. Henry Ford knew it when he cut his factory shifts from 60-hour, 6-day weeks to 40-hour, 5-day weeks. The smartest startups know it (New Relic strongly discourages unauthorized overtime; FullContact pays its team $7.5k on top of the PTO to leave their phones and email alone when they take vacation).
Creativity and happiness and productivity are all improved by taking time off. So even when you feel like you absolutely CANNOT take a day to spend with your friends and family once a week, you should.
If you're really feeling stretched thin, chances are your schedule could stand for some optimization. This was one of my biggest challenges, and overcoming it has been the single biggest reward of my career: I now work about 10–30 hours a week and get MORE done than when I was working 70–90 hour weeks.
If you'd like to talk more about scheduling and happiness, I'd love to help. This is right up my alley in terms of expertise and experience. :)
Alienate your friends. You'll receive fewer invitations to life events. Problem solved.
Or else attend everything, spend more than you're comfortable spending, and please others at a cost to you they won't appreciate.
Really, just explain your situation to friends honestly. If you're too embarrassed to admit to being cash strapped, then ask yourself why you'd attend the wedding or birthday party of a "friend" who resents you or judges you.
I think it's better to explain the situation to people in advance because it shows that you're aware of their upcoming life events and do actually care about them. Begging off at the last minute, in contrast, can seem flaky or apathetic.
Send out a mass email to everybody who might be a "life-event risk" or use Facebook. Add something personalized at the beginning such as,
"Hey, I know you've got a birthday coming up"
"Seems like my friends are all getting hitched these days, and I'm becoming a professional wedding guest. Just in case you and [Significant Other] are thinking of tying the knot, here's my situation ... "
Invite them to talk by phone, and I'll bet they'll be quite supportive.
In the 21st century, people put unnatural pressure on themselves to travel for these life events. And their circle of friends (as measured by Facebook) is bigger and more remote than ever.
Really, it can become absurd. Thinking back just a few decades, people wrote letters to congratulate each other. They didn't spend a fortune or spend a week partying. My parents, living in Egypt as newlyweds for 5 years, only had 1 or 2 phone call home each year. Their parents were quite well off, but even they only visited once – for the birth of their first grandchild.
Now that video chat is a possibility, why on earth are you expected to fly around the planet for face-to-face trips? For a dozen or more acquaintances?
Set your own standards. Be candid. Those friends who resent you for sanity can safely be jettisoned.
It is tricky to start a business when it soaks up your finances and time. I do believe time is a gift you can still give-- and you are entitled to go to parties and life events guilt free. If there is a cost involved ( travel to wedding or a gift) get creative. Could you carpool? Perhaps provide a creative but inexpensive gift with your talents? If that is not an option and attending will put finances in jeopardy just send a lovely heartfelt ( handwritten) card and a small gift if finances allow and skip the event.
Act in favor of life events.. That cash saved without doing so will not make your startup move..! For startups the key is not the seed capital as generally accepted, but instead the psychology & mood of the founder.. So go & get motivated and stay away from the sense of loneliness..!
This is simple:
If you don't have any money to attend events, then you tell your friend you can't come because you can't afford to come. If you are honest with your friends about your monetary situation, you may find that they enjoy having your company around and may pay for You to come with them sometimes, or instead will be considerate and find free things to do (hiking, free Concerts, etc.)
You should find something to do to get away from work at least once a week to balance your life out.
Having made many of the same sacrifices, I can tell you it absolutely gets more rewarding with each passing month and milestone hit. I think this Dave Ramsey quote sums it up:
“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”
-Gregg M. Kennelly