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Loneliness as a business owner and how to combat it

Becoming your own boss can be exciting and liberating while daunting at the same time.

Some people will start their own businesses because they either want the freedom to decide on what project they work and how much they will charge or because they have a passion for that subject and believe they can bring the best product/service if they personally deliver it.

In the first instance you might feel excited and eager to start your solopreneurship and you are happy to put in the long hours and extra admin tasks, but one aspect will usually come as a surprise for the new owner - the sense of isolation and loneliness that comes from such a venture.

This is quite often between small business owners, home-based owners or dream chasers. Moving from an office and team environment can have a significant impact on the motivation that comes from working with colleagues. And although some people are fine working on their own, there are some pressures of the business ownership that can make them feel overwhelmed and alone.

Here are some tips to try and help you come with the isolation:

1. Networking

Cannot emphasise enough how important networking is for any new starting solopreneur. People are social beings and this comes in naturally to us. There are so many like minded business owners out there that connecting and brainstorming ideas might actually help a lot with supporting your venture. Check out your local business club or go out for that coffee with the old colleague you enjoyed chatting with.

2. Mentoring

Either being one or getting one, mentoring is another way of creating social connections. I personally have a mentor coach - she keeps me in line with my personal development and with my goals. You might want to be a mentor for a younger version of you - take some time weekly to check in and help support them.

3. Build a team

If your goal is to grow, then this will be right up your alley. Building a team is another way to prevent loneliness from settling in. You remember that feeling you had when you were working in a team and want to recreate it - only remember all people are different and while you might not get the same dynamics, you can definitely build a good support system. Once you have grown enough, think of tasks you can delegate - admin, finance, social media - there are so many specialists out there to help you with this, while allowing you to take some pressure off and focus on the reason you started the business in the first place.

4. Tech tools to stay motivated

In this new era we all have smartphones, tablets and laptops, and we use them all the time! But how much for connecting with loved ones or that friend you promised you’ll message?

Do it - book 10 minutes on your busy day and speak to one person you have not spoken to in a long time. Allocate another 10 minutes at lunch to listen to your favourite podcast or the audio book you downloaded 2 months ago.

During the pandemic there have been numerous charities that started amazing programmes such as the one from WaveLength, which giver technology to people who feel lovely or that are living in poor conditions the chance to reconnect with the world.

Other alternatives such as Push to Talk, Alcove VR, Rendever are already on the market ready to connect people by providing platforms for playing games online, using virtual reality and exploring the world from home.

5. Ideal home office

If you want to stay away from distractions you will want to have an environment that motivates you. Make sure you have enough space in your office, choose the right desk size for your activities (you might need more drawers or a wider top), pick the right chair (posture is so important to being comfortable). Position your desk in such a way to have the light coming from you left if you are right handed and vice-versa. Make sure you have a good headset for meetings and that all your office supplies are tucked away handy. Having a healthy eating pattern also helps - try to avoid snacking on junk food every day and if possible go for a brisk walk after lunch just to break up your day.

6. Prioritise you relationships

As an entrepreneur you will not always be able to balance the daily hustle with being friends with everyone. While there is nothing wrong with new acquaintances and new friends, you would be more satisfied by keeping a core group of friends and investing time in those relationships. All relationships are a two way street and need nurturing, so make sure you are investing as much as you are receiving.

7. Don't be afraid to say "no"

Saying yes to everything limits your time availability. And while being busy is great, if you like going1000 miles/hour, saying yes to everything means something else has to be passed on. As a busy entrepreneur you only have so much time on your hands and the opportunity to say yes to everything might cost you time with your friends or family. As mentioned before, nurture the relationships that bring you value, happiness and a positive mindset and for that you need to allocate enough time. Say no to the good will make time for the great!

8. Remember who you are and don’t let go of that

Total focus on the business might cost you friendships and have an impact on the family life. If that happens, you might feel guilty and ashamed of wanting to run a successful business. Do not put yourself down - remember that you are human!

Remember you skills and that you are not alone - as mentioned before, many more are in your situation and finding the right balance takes time!

According to the Harvard Business Review, half of CEOs from the CEO Snapshot Survey reported experiencing feelings of loneliness in their role. So remember it happens to the best of them!

Keep being fabulous - You got this!

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