It’s strange isn’t it that when we long for the time when we can exit corporate life and set up our own business we have our rose coloured spectacles on.
Yes we dream of leaving the internal politics behind, the in-efficiencies and low morale behind to start doing something we love, get paid for it and be our own boss, making your own decisions.
In reality it can be like that. But, there is usually an under-current that threatens to de-rail your plans. It’s loneliness and boy can it be tough to work through. I know I’ve been there and I have the T-shirt too.
I’m an extroverted thinker and doer – on Myers Briggs I’m a string ‘E’. I’m never happier than when I’m problem solving, bouncing ideas around in a group, shaping creative ideas, coming up with suggestions, ideas and plans, team brainstorming and all that goes on in corporate life.
It’s difficult to brainstorm on your own, have a debate with yourself, consider other opinions or feed off others. It’s hard to share or solve a problem or celebrate a success in isolation.
That’s the bit they don’t tell you about starting a business. And as the business grows, instead of reducing the loneliness gets worse. As time goes by you become withdrawn, isolated, less communicative, less decisive, a bit more stressed and not having any fun either.
So how do you overcome the loneliness? This is what I did:
1. Firstly I have a great husband; supportive and understanding from the start. But I needed to develop a much wider support network. I now have lots of different people around me, that support me and in turn I support them. My network includes friends, associates, ex-work colleagues and my coach and mentor too.
2. I’ve also built a strong business network. 4 years ago I knew very few business people in Kent. Now my address book is huge because I went out and met lots of business people, many have become clients, some suppliers and some great friends.
3. I helped others to make connections – I open my address book to them. And it’s funny how ‘what goes round comes back around’.
4. Virtual and social networks are great too. Australia, USA, Holland, South Africa, Germany & Dubai and just some of the places I have good contacts that I can call on through my social networks. They give me a different dimension and perspectives to my thoughts as well as being available to me 24/7.
5. I learnt to ask for help.
6. I found a great business coach, a mentor and a network to work with.
7. I went to training events – to keep my skills up-to-date and learn new skills. Lots of free training and business seminars are free and held out of hours too.
8. Start conversations with strangers. It’s amazing who I’ve met at different coffee bars just by starting a conversation. One thing that solo-preneurs suffer with is not having anyone to talk too. I often work with the radio or TV just to hear another voice. Going to coffee shops etc is a good way to be around other people.
9. Above all my clients are great, they are the reason that I do what I do, I get to be part of lots and lots of different teams. My clients were lonely too and every day they remind me of the importance of a sounding board, someone to talk too and bounce things around.
Don’t let loneliness be the killer of your passion for your business. Build yourself a network of supporters, people you can talk too. Above all don’t be afraid to seek help – a coach, a mentor or a network could be the solution for you.
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