I love being an entrepreneur and running my own show.
I enjoy the challenge and the freedom of being in control.
But being your own boss can also mean loneliness.
The loneliness of being in charge.
How To Counter Entrepreneur Loneliness
There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s kind of lonely being an entrepreneur.
You realize how there’s few people in practice that you can really turn to or confide in.
The average employee has no understanding.
Nor can you talk financial stuff with employees – whether your own or other peoples.
The sober fact is that most employees don’t understand money beyond their own pay cheque and their mortgage, if they have one. Anything beyond that just causes their eyes to pop and sets off envy, jealousy, resentment and all sorts of other stuff.
You can’t confide in your managers, if you have any, because you have to keep to your role of being in charge. You are expected to be the big all knowing, all capable boss. People come to you, but you can’t go to them.
If you’re working in the online sector, and if you’re running a business which depends on outsourced and contracted services and staff, then this loneliness can become even more compounded.
Friends or family won’t understand either. Being an entrepreneur, when you are the boss, the person where the buck stops, is something most people don’t have any experience nor any empathy with.
And if you work at home, the loneliness problem can be even worse.
Employees who commute every day to work in an office are often envious of those who work at home. Home working certainly has its advantages and benefits, but it can also serve to worsen the loneliness. Being your own boss – AND working from home, can mean a double whammy of loneliness.
I always say that the worst thing about working from home is working from home.
All of this can make you feel like you’re existing on an island.
Some Practical Tips To Counter The Loneliness of Being an Entrepreneur
Here’s some practical tips and ideas to help you tackle the problem of loneliness.
Give Yourself a Change of Surroundings
If you work from home, getting out of the house on a frequent basis can be a big help for a start.
Sometimes it helps just to have a change of environment. For example, I sometimes go and work for a while in a cafe or coffee shop. I actually often leave my laptop at home. I find not having my laptop with me gives me more of a break than if I was sitting in front of it typing away yet again.
It also give my fingers and wrists a break. RSI – repetitive strain injury is something you don’t want to experience. Take up a pen and paper during these breaks instead. That way you can still be productive and it works just as well – if not better. And another plus of using a pen and paper: it means you can’t waste time Web surfing!
Join a Co-Working Centre
Co-working centres can be a great way to break out of the loneliness. There are now more and more of these springing up.
The advantage of co-working centres is that they offer common facilities at low cost: desk-sharing in an attractive office space, fast wi-fi internet, drinks and snacks provision, maybe also other office services such as meeting spaces, conference and presentation rooms, secretarial and virtual office facilities.
Plus you get to work amongst like-minded souls and benefit from the common entrepreneurial energy vibe that’s generated.
Make Contact With Other Entrepreneurs
Secondly, there are loads of other entrepreneurs in the exact same position and feeling just the same way as you do. So why not make contact and link up with them?
You can do this by joining a co-working centre as mentioned above.
There’s also a number of other things you can try. Here’s a quick list off the top of my head:
Utilize Social Media
Twitter: Do some searches by Twitter Hashtag, eg #entrepreneur #smallbiz or #startup. Send out some Tweets of your own. Don’t forget that you can include a short URL link in your Tweets.
Facebook: Ah Facebook. The great time waster. I regard Facebook more as a time thief than anything else. But it does have a large user base and this makes it difficult to ignore completely. But I don’t think Facebook is all that useful when it comes to talking about your entrepreneurial problems.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn has a much higher percentage of business people and other professionals. LinkedIn also has groups and these are a good place to interact with other entrepreneurs. I find LinkedIn much more worthwhile for entrepreneurs than Facebook.
Join Some Forums
Join an online discussion forum or bulletin board relevant to a subject in your field of business.
But be careful as some forums are low quality, full of bitching and low value ping pong clashes between members. Sometimes a paid forum for members only can work out better value and be more worthwhile than some of the free ones.
Take Part in Local Meetups
Check out Meetups in your area by visiting www.meetup.com. Find out what meeting groups are going on and try getting involved in the ones that look promising to you.
Don’t forget the classic groups as well. Maybe the old fashioned sounding Chamber of Commerce or even the Rotary club. Or if the idea of these turns you cold, nowadays there are others, especially in the younger digital business startup sector.
Join a Mastermind Group or a Coaching Program
So-called “Mastermind” groups are smaller groups of entrepreneurs with similar interests or in roughly the same field. These aim to get people together to discuss common issues that the group members are faced with. Basically it’s a form of peer support.
There are also an increasing number of paid-for business coaching programs which specialize in particular sectors and business functions.. It can be worth signing up to join such a program in your field and getting to know like-minded people.
So there are some practical ideas for tackling the problem of loneliness when you’re an entrepreneur.
We entrepreneurs live different lives to the majority of employees and this impacts our loneliness. I think it’s up to us to take positive steps to counter it.
Any thoughts on the above ideas? What suggestions would you make from your own experience to help counter the loneliness problem that we entrepreneurs face?