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.
RELATED: Myrko Thum’s Personal Breakthrough Academy
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!
photo credit: SpaceShoe [Learning to live with the crisis] via photopin cc
Hi Simon, I really enjoyed your metaphor!
I’m slightly more introvert than extrovert. My sibling is completely the opposite and could never understand why I didn’t have this desire to be surrounded by people.
When I was younger I used to feel there way something wrong with me! Now I know it’s just me and sometimes I just need some peace and quiet. But I still fully embrace meeting/contacting like minded individuals to discuss and bounce ideas of each other.
But I guess if I had to do it everyday in a 9-5 I wouldn’t provide as much value if I wasn’t able to recharge :)
Thanks for comment
„working for yourself can be a lonely business“ – sounds like music to my ears haha!
Is this post mainly aimed at extroverts?
I don’t see any reason to implement more outside „noise“ of other people in your working environment (besides required networking with mentors & colleagues off-course)
I once read introverts are like batteries that need to recharge alone whilst extroverts are like solar-panels that recharge by the people around them – thought it was a cool metaphor and pretty accurate in my case.
I’m pretty convinced some people perform optimally alone. – Don’t you think?
Simon, my take on this (and being slightly more intro- than extrovert myself) that what you say is true, up to a certain degree. Having a quit working environment is helpful to focus and get things done.
But there is the point when working on your own gets to you after some time. You just need someone to bounce off your thoughts and ideas, ideally someone to work with and talk to. So this is the isolation the post is talking about.
There are certainly different degrees when this happens to people.
Yeah totally, some people just need more contact than others – thanks for clarifying Myrko.
I so relate to #2. When I first started my own on-line business I had a mentor from day 1. I wanted to be ‚up and running‘ fast and the quickest way is via a good mentor. I’ve changed my mentor several times since I start but I’ve always had one. Well worth the money.
A good mentor will always get you on the right path quickly.
Mentor’s are great to bounce ideas off, help you turn your dreams into reality and if you struggle with self management at the start, they can be someone who you’re accountable to as well.
My tips for finding the right mentor is…
1. Find someone who has achieved the same things you are aiming to achieve
2. Find someone who has a positive history. Google their name to check they aren’t associated with scams or long lists of customer complaints
3. Lastly, choose a person who is easily reachable so you know they will be committed to your needs. Send them an email/message. How long do they take to respond? 1 hour? 1 day? 1 month? Never? (Longer than 5 working days I wouldn’t bother)
Thanks for comment
Thanks for having me :)
Dealing with isolation after always having worked in vibrant environments was definitely and transition for me! It was just the sound of silence at the beginning that drove me crazy.
But like you’ve already mentioned connecting with other people who have similar goals has been a great help.
Plus just simply learning how to turn the negatives into positives is now one-of-many skills that I’ve obtained since becoming a solopreneur. I embrace the silence and find it easy to work in a variety of environments from local coffee shop to very early mornings (even before the birds are tweeting).
You have to reminder yourself of the reasons why you wanted to become a solopreneur and be excepting of the ‚cons‘ that may come with it.
There is one thing that I am sure of… there is no ‚con‘ big enough or no amount of silence that could convince me to return back to a 9-5!
Thanks Naomi for a post on probably one of the most underestimated issues of becoming a solopreneur.
My best advice besides the mentor is this: Connect with people with similar goals and start sharing and working with them. It accelerates both of your learning curves plus is so much fun to finally partner with someone who clicks the same way as you do…