When we’re making the decision to jump from being employed to running our own business, one of the great perks is the opportunity to set our own schedule, without answering to a manager or having to deal with the various demands of a team.
Instead of having to juggle our diary each day with team meetings, appraisals or updates, we get to decide who we speak to, when, and why.
This is without doubt one of the single biggest factors pushing entrepreneurs in to self-employment; the luxury of managing our own time, without having to accommodate office politics, the inane chatter of team meetings, or the hassle of reporting to someone.
So why is it, when many people first move in to running their own business, one of the first issues that hits is a sense of isolation?
Surely, when we’ve longed for the majority of our working lives to escape the office noise and corporate bustle, the last thing we should miss is that very noise?
The problem is, working for yourself can be a lonely business.
Instead of having to attend a series of meetings that have been popped in to your diary at the whim of other people, you’re suddenly faced with day after day of silence and isolation. While in the first few days this isolation can give you the space you need to focus on setting up key aspects of your business venture, after a week or so, that silence can start to grate on you.
If you have a spouse or partner who comes back from an office role full of the gossip of what has happened that day, or you are used to answering the phone or lots of e-mails throughout the day, suddenly being cut off from the hectic schedule of a busy office can be a huge culture shock.
The good news is, there are a number of ways of managing this sense of isolation, to make sure that your business brings you interactions and meetings, discussions and support, but this time on your own agenda at times that really work best for you. Here are the top ways to make sure working for yourself doesn’t leave you feeling disenfranchised and isolated…
1. Get a Mentor
When you are working for yourself sometimes you need someone else to bounce ideas off and talk to about new strategies for the business. The best person to do this is a mentor; someone you respect in the same field of business as you, who is willing to give up some of their time each day or week to talk things through.
Look at your business contacts and pick out someone you get on with, respect and admire and ask them if they would be prepared to be there for you in an advisory capacity. Link up on Skype, and you have someone on hand every day to discuss things with when you need it.
2. Join Business Networks
Regardless of your field of industry, there’s a network out there for you. Join breakfast clubs, business networking groups or forums and go along to meet like-minded people who share the same goals and aspirations.
Not only will you forge some great business contacts, networking also gives you a regular schedule and routine to take you out of the house and in to positive meetings with people who could be customers in future.
3. Reach Out To Like-Minded People
Having contacts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Skype will help you to develop an ongoing group of like-minded business entrepreneurs who will be there for you day after day.
Forge new contacts, join groups, invite people on to Skype chat and take time to nurture these relationships. Before too long your e-mail inbox and chat screen will be inundated with messages, making you wonder how you ever felt isolated in the first place.
Choose partnerships with people who share similar values, aspirations and ideals and develop relationships by sharing best practice, discussing issues and offering to support others when they need it.
4. Hire Office Space
If you really can’t cope with the quiet of working from home, it may be worth investing in some office space. These days, you can get space which is shared with other firms and sole traders, giving a sense of community and camaraderie to the environment. Having your own space also makes it easier to hold meetings, invite clients to see you and gives you a sense of routine by ‘going to work’ each day.
No matter how isolating working for yourself can seem at first, it really doesn’t take long to gain new colleagues who share your interests and business goals. After just a few weeks of taking positive steps, you’ll be back to the bustle of a full day of networking and won’t miss the 9-5 grind at all.
How do you beat your self-employment isolation?
Write about your experience in the comments below!