Being a lonely entrepreneur is tough. If you are the only person in your business you have no one to bounce ideas off with. There is no one to take some of the burden off your shoulders. And you can feel isolated.
Gillian and I are fortunate. We are not only partners, but sisters and best friends. So loneliness is not an issue. Our responsibilities are shared. We bring different skills and thoughts to the table. Even though we live in different states we are only as far away as a Zoom call. We Zoom almost every day.
However your may be in a different situation. You may work at home and even if you have a spouse, that person might not even contribute ideas for you. So what are your options?
We belong to a membership group for women entrepreneurs called Serene Solopreneur. We enjoy the comradeship with other women to learn and share from. Sue Allen Clayton who is the owner of the Serene Solopreneur is always providing us a space to engage, learn and be a family of women from a variety of businesses. Sue wrote a blog last week that I thought was worth sharing to our own audience.
Sue’s tips are beneficial no matter whether you are a woman or man.
18 Ways to Beat Isolation When You’re Self-Employed
Beating Isolation and Loneliness When You’re Self-Employed
There’s no question that being self-employed can make you feel lonely and isolated. This may happen because you spend a lot of time alone in your home office. Or you may be surrounded with people who have “real jobs” and don’t understand the challenges of self-employment. Regardless of why you feel isolated, there are many ways to overcome isolation when you’re a home-based and self-employed.
18 Ways to Beat Loneliness and Isolation When You’re Self-Employed
- Make socializing a priority. Extroverts recharge their energy from being with other people. Acknowledge that being with people is necessary for your mental health and needs to be a priority. You will not be happy spending a week alone in your house writing content! Accept your desire to be social and plan accordingly.
- Have a routine. One of the downsides of being self-employed is that you have no structure. It’s tempting to waste your day watching YouTube videos or Netflix. Not only does this make you feel even more lonely, it also makes you feel like crap about yourself for avoiding work. A much better system is to create routines that include regular work hours; coffee and lunch breaks; and exercise.
- Find an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone who has similar business goals and is willing to discuss your business. Every Monday through Friday, I talk to my accountability partner at 8:55 AM. We discuss our goals for the day, as well as our wins and challenges from the previous day. Not only does sharing my daily goals makes me accountable, I also find that our daily chats make me feel connected to the world.
- Participate in an online group. There are an unlimited amount of Facebook and LinkedIn groups, as well as forums and other online communities. This is a great way to make friends and to feel connected. I have also participated in two private Facebook groups, each with four people. We created the groups as a place where we can post private thoughts and get immediate feedback from trusted colleagues.
- Participate in a coaching program. If you elect to participate in a group coaching program, you will have access to a group or forum with all of the other participants. In addition, most coaching programs have regular events and mastermind calls that will provide human interaction and the opportunity to make friends. Hiring a coach for private sessions will also make you feel supported and less isolated.
- Go out to eat. If possible, find a friend to meet you for breakfast, lunch or coffee. This provides a great mid-day break and time to converse over a meal. Even if you’re alone, taking a break at Starbucks will give you a change of scenery and make you feel part of the community.
- Join a gym. Being a member of a gym is another great way to make you feel less isolated. If you go at the same time every day, you will begin to recognize your fellow exercisers. Participating in a class, or hiring a personal trainer, will give you added attention.
- Schedule in-person meetings. Rather than communicating by text or email, invite your friends, clients and colleagues out for coffee, lunch or drinks. If you can’t meet face to face, try teleconferencing (I love Zoom) so that it feels like you’re meeting in person.
- Connect on Social Media. Participating in active social media groups is a great way to feel connected to your community. I’m currently members of groups that include podcasting, weight loss, politics, business, and marketing. I also run a private Facebook group for members of my community, the Serene Solopreneur, where female business owners can interact privately with their peers.
- Go for a walk. If you can, walk outside your house and enjoy the neighborhood. You may also be able to find a walking partner, so that you can get exercise while you socialize.
- Hear voices. Listen to the radio or audiobooks. Follow podcasts, YouTube channels, and Facebook Lives. Invest in online education. Hearing someone else talking will make you feel less isolated (plus you’ll learn something too).
- Get a pet. We have two dogs in our household and I love them dearly. My daughter (also a home-based business owner) and I each have a dog with us in our respective offices. It’s hard to feel isolated when you have a furry friend who wants attention. Walking my dog also creates a routine and I’ve gotten to know many people in my neighborhood.
- Find a coworking space. Some people find the isolation of a home office depressing. If you’ve tried working at a library or coffee shop, and still feel isolated, then it’s time to look at coworking spaces. Coworking spaces are flexible offices that provide meeting, desk and kitchen space for freelancers and independents. It is an office environment where you can chat in the kitchen, network around a table, or spend private time at a desk.
- Collaborate. Find someone with a complimentary skill set and work together. I truly enjoyed my partnership with a speech pathologist. We gave seminars about how to create and deliver an elevator speech. I handled the writing portion, while she handled the part about delivering an elevator speech. It was wonderful to have a creative partner.
- Attend networking events. Your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, professional associations, and many other groups have regular networking events. There are also Meetup Groups on virtually any topic. You can join an existing Meetup group or start your own.
- Commit to learning. One of the joys of being self-employed is that there’s always something to learn. Expand your knowledge by taking a class on email marketing, how to build a website, or how to use your accounting software. You can also join organizations such as Toastmasters – where you can learn public speaking and leadership skills – that meet regularly and help you build your business.
- Attend conferences and workshops. Consider attending a conference or workshop where you can meet new people. This past weekend, I attended WordCamp NYC, a two-day conference about all things WordPress. I learned a lot and met interesting people.
- Leverage your interests. Don’t limit your socializing to work. There’s lots of opportunity for socializing in a religious or community organization. For many years I participated in quilting guilds, which gave me regular social time with fellow quilters. I’ve also taken classes in tai chi, meditation, and ballroom dancing.
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