There's no doubt about it, running your own business can be rewarding, challenging, enlightening.....and sometimes it can also be lonely.
Whether you're the only one in your business (except the cat!) or you're at the head of a small team, if you don't have a business partner, sometimes running the business and bearing sole responsibility for all of the decisions with no-one to talk to, can be lonely. And as much as Felix (insert your cats name here) does his best to offer a sympathetic ear, he probably shouldn't be your "go to guy" for an informed business conversation.
So what can you do to help prevent getting caught up in "lonely business owner" syndrome (yes I've clearly made that name up!)? Well, this is a syndrome I'm very familiar with and here are some of the techniques that have helped me over the years when a nasty bout's been looming.
1. Get out networking. Whilst networking may not always be the best marketing strategy for every business, it is a great way to meet lots of other like-minded, business owners, many of whom are (or have been) in a similar situation to where you are now. If you've got a particular challenge you're facing, or just need a business conversation with someone with less than 4 legs, networking can be a great source of support and an ideal opportunity to make some "business friends" who understand the unique challenges and requirements of running your own business. PLUS, if you pick one involving food you can get a great meal out and legitimately expense it!
2. Look into a shared office space. Whilst you may not want (or be able to afford) to make the move into a permanent shared office space, the recent surge of hot-desking office spaces has made it easier than ever to get out of the house, get amongst other business owners, and still have a highly productive work day (without having to get up to buy coffee every 30mins), and prices now start from as little as £15/day (or even less for a few hours). Not only is this a great way to just get out amongst people, it can also be a brilliant way to make new contacts and friends.
3. Get a business buddy. When it's just you in your business (or at the head of your business) a lack of accountability can be a big barrier to moving your business forward as quickly as you'd like to. If you can't afford a coach (see point 4!) then just asking another business-owner that you get on well with to be your business buddy can be a great interim solution, especially if you're both in a similar position. Agree a time each week/fortnight/month to meet up for a chat to talk about your businesses, what's happening, what your plans are and offer each other some accountability. It will also really help you to feel supported in your business, and knowing someone else has a real interest in what's happening can really help alleviate any loneliness.
4. Hire a coach! Of course I'm highly biased and this is my top suggestion! But genuinely, a massive part of what I do for my clients is to ensure they feel supported, and to have someone else as part of their team and who's really invested in their business. Sometimes my clients will call me out of the blue, just to tell me about a massive deal/client they've just won, other times they have a crisis situation and they just want someone to talk it through with and feel comfortable they're making the right decision. If you're feeling a bit lonely and unsupported then hiring a coach can really help change that, and BONUS they'll also help you significantly grow your business and make more money! They can also introduce you into their client community as another way to meet business owners and get some additional support around you.
5. Keep a strong social life around you. Sometimes when we're really focused on growing our business, especially if we're having to work long hours, we can forget to make time for our friends and our hobbies and social life (let alone find the energy for them!) But it's really important to maintain that, even more so at times of high-growth and high-stress as they'll help you detach from work, unwind and de-stress so that you perform better when you're back in the office the next day. So if you are feeling a tad lonely at the moment, look at your diary and see where you could plan a date-night with your partner, or catch up with some friends.
Give some (or all) of the above a try and let me know how you get on. And of course if you are looking at point no.4 you can always book in for a free call with me here :)