An article I saw on FastCompany got me thinking about this common entrepreneurial dilemma. We start our business to follow a dream, to help people, to make money…and we end up spending the majority of our time doing it alone.
Even though I had a business partner for PromoteWare and QuoteCatcher, we started those companies out of our respective houses. We talked on the phone everyday, but the majority of our time was spent working without any meaningful human interaction. That’s a recipe for insanity!
You have to make a concerted effort to cope with entrepreneurial loneliness. You can’t just get out of your cube, walk to the break room and talk to someone. You need a strategy to avoid insanity.
Networking is a great way to get out of the house or office and meet some new people. Don’t go solely in search of new business, though. Go to meet people and talk to people. If you get business out of it, great! But your goal is to mingle, interact, communicate. I feel energized after every event I attend.
Another way to reduce your loneliness is to find other entrepreneurs and form an entrepreneurial support group and/or a call chain. I have 4 people in my support group. One owns a bakery, one is a sales rep, one has an Amazon store and one is a real estate agent. I call them my “brain trust” and they’re a great source of motivation and information.
Your support group can be anyone, but it helps if they own a business so they understand what you’re going through. Fellow entrepreneurs can also give you some ideas when you have real business challenges.
Finding a mentor or coach is another way to avoid going it alone. I’ve been a SCORE mentor since 2009 and it’s nice to meet fellow entrepreneurs for coffee. It gives us both a chance for some meaningful human interaction, and there’s also a good knowledge exchange. Find a local SCORE Chapter and request a free mentoring session. Disclaimer: All mentors are not created equal. If you don’t connect with the one who’s assigned to you, request another one. We have thick skins.
Depending on your line of work, there may be coaches who specialize in what you’re doing. Signing up for their coaching services is a great way to increase your human interaction and get valuable advice at the same time.
Schedule time on your calendar to go to events, call your support group, grab a coffee with your mentor, or talk to your coach. Being an early-stage entrepreneur can be very lonely, but you have control over how lonely you get.
Have other ideas for avoiding entrepreneurial loneliness? Post them in the comments section below!