For years I’ve worked in corporate jobs where I got used to the routines of going to my office, interacting with coworkers, and the camaraderie that it built. In my last corporate job, I loved going to work where my boss was awesome to work for and my colleagues were the best around. It felt like family with the holiday dinners and birthday celebrations. All that changed when we were downsized and I got the opportunity to build my own business and become an entrepreneur. Almost overnight my morning commute was shortened to a walk down to my basement office and I was the only one I’d see all day. It was then that I had to learn how to battle loneliness in entrepreneurship.
The transition was, and still is, hard to deal with. Even though I was home I felt like I was in some sort of solitary confinement and the lack of social interaction was jarring to say the least. My wife would go to work where her lunches were often catered by sales reps in her industry. I’d be left with leftovers from the night before or the basic lunch of a sandwich. In this post I’ll share what I learned and how you can succeed in your entrepreneurship journey.
While entrepreneurs may think think they are alone, in a recent report of the Small Business Administration, over 70% of the 28 million small businesses are solo businesses, with one person responsible for everything in the business. I’ve gained solace in knowing that everyday millions of people are similarly scrapping and hustling for their dream of being self employed. When I know that there are others out there, I don’t feel so alone.
Create Your Own Routine
Working by myself I’ve had to create my own routine to battle loneliness. For me that’s taken on different forms, from a morning workout because it’s so easy to let my body go when I sit at a chair for hours and don’t get any exercise, to morning chores like laundry and cleaning because I know my wife will appreciate not having to come home and clean the house. My routine ebbs and flows depending on the season I’m in. I think everyone should commit to a minimum of getting up early, having a healthy breakfast, shower, and putting on at least a business casual attire for the day.
Create Your Own Support System
Even though I work from home and on my own most of the time, I’m fortunate in that I rely on friendships to help me stave off loneliness. I’m a member of a small community group with my church and the time together has often helped me in ways not only spiritually, but to develop deep relationships with others. If you’re a person of faith, you should explore opportunities in your church to plug in in a similar way. If not, then find groups in your area that you can join to help create a board of advisors, mastermind, or networking group to build your support team. You could consider joining your chamber of commerce, a business association, or Meetup group.
I’ve been able to do both, keep active in my small group with church, and join a few organizations. I’m a chamber member, and board member of the Louisville Digital Association. In my hometown of Frankfort, KY I’ve started an Entrepreneurs Meetup in hopes of building community.
Consider Co-working Spaces
If you find that you absolutely must have some social interaction with others in an office-like environment, working out of a co-working space may be a strong choice. There is a cost to some of these spaces, but you get a dedicated space to work, office materials like wi-fi, copiers, and a place to receive mail. These spaces could also have a kitchen area where the coffee is always hot and fresh, and you can share lunch breaks with others. Often, the people that are also there can morph into working relationships and business opportunities.
Consider Adopting a Dog
If you prefer only to work from home consider adopting a dog from your local shelter. My wife and I adopted Shiloh, a possibly full blooded Beagle more than a year ago. It was a big step for us and it was a challenge getting him obedience trained and house broken, but now that he’s a member of our family, he’s provided a great source of companionship while I work from my home office.
He’s usually pretty chill until around four or five, at which point he wants to go for a walk. Shiloh also helps me with stress by providing play breaks. He’ll sometimes even make sure I’m ok by coming up and nuzzling me at my desk.
While I’m still working out my best strategy to battle loneliness as an entrepreneur, I’ve created my own routine, assembled a support team, but haven’t yet gone to the co-working space. I have adopted a dog to help though! These things have helped me keep happy, productive, and grounded in my entrepreneurial journey.
I’m curious, how are you battling loneliness in entrepreneurship? I’d sure like to know in the comments below.