Isn’t it amazing how quickly the way we work and do business has changed in the past few years?
When I started my first business in 2013, working from home was rare. At least in my little corner of Australia. I actually remember feeling embarrassed admitting to my clients that I didn’t have a corporate office!
With the rapid rise of entrepreneurship, freelancing and flexible work arrangements, working from home is now commonplace. These days, friends who commute to and from work each day often express envy at the ‘luxury’ I have of working from home.
But life as a business owner can be isolating.
Loneliness is a challenge my clients regularly face, with many individuals missing the sense of connection and community at work. As someone who thrives off the energy of others, I need regular human interaction. And even the most introverted individuals who crave solo time can feel the impact when they’re starting out in business.
Are you feeling lonely at work?
Read on to discover 4 simple strategies to help combat loneliness as an entrepreneur. You’ll learn the exact methods I’ve used to overcome isolation at work.
STRATEGY #1 – CHANGE YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT
If you work from home, changing your environment is important if you’re feeling isolated or never switch off from work. But this doesn’t mean you have to immediately invest in hiring a full-time office space. There are many cost-effective options you can test out short term basis to see what works for your individual requirements.
Co-working is a great option for those wanting access to corporate facilities and social interaction with other professionals. You can even start with 1-2 days per week depending upon your routine and needs.
Other options are hot-desking, hiring a corporate meeting room or sub-leasing. I need flexibility, so hiring a meeting room for in person meetings a few hours per week works for me. Clients have sub-leased space from professional colleagues, preferring to work alongside business referral partners, rather than in a communal environment.
Finally, find simple ways to break up your routine or get a change of scenery. This could be as simple as getting some fresh air, exercising outside or working from a different location. I recently had a productive afternoon working by the beach and felt completely re-energised and motivated the entire week!
STRATEGY #2 – FIND CONNECTION
One way to combat loneliness at work is to find opportunities for greater interaction with others on a daily basis.
Take your business conversations offline by arranging regular coffee catch-ups with customers or taking a prospective client to lunch. Jump on Skype or Zoom and have a virtual meeting instead of a phone conversation. Or, arrange your meetings and calls early, so you feel energised for the rest of the day.
Build your professional network by attending industry events, business groups and meet-ups in your local area. The connections you forge may lead to referral partners, collaborations or social catch-ups with new people at an individual level.
One friend makes it a priority to arrange at least one face-to-face meeting and book one networking event every week. This sounds simple but when we get caught up in the ‘busyness’ of work these actions can be pushed aside. Realistic goals help maintain these important activities through busy periods, with the added benefit of connecting you with other people.
At a personal level, you can arrange lunch with a friend, book a group fitness class after work or work from a public space. If I’m ever feeling disconnected, I take my laptop to a local café and immediately feel re-energised being around people!
STRATEGY #3 – JOIN A MASTERMIND
This one has been a game-changer for me as a business owner. A mastermind is a group of peers who meet on a regular basis. The objective is to provide feedback, support and keep each other accountable to goals.
A couple of years ago, I was invited to join a local mastermind group that met in person each fortnight. This helped me build new friendships and gave me support I hadn’t realised I was missing as a solo business owner. More recently, I’ve created my own — a group of coaching colleagues at the same stage of business, meeting virtually once a week from across the world.
So, how do you find a mastermind group? Start by looking at local meetups or business groups for one in your area. There are also many paid masterminds and online groups you can join.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Create your own! That’s exactly what some colleagues and I did. The key is to assemble a group of like-minded individuals at a similar stage of business. Find people who are committed to showing up on a regular basis, contributing and supporting each other.
STRATEGY #4 – INVEST IN YOUR DEVELOPMENT
Investing in your professional development gets you out of your comfort zone and interacting with new people.
I’ve made many personal and professional connections through in person post graduate studies and online group programs I’ve invested in. Online programs have a strong community element, allowing you to interact socially online, form business relationships and often, offline friendships.
Continuously investing in your development is important as an entrepreneur. You’re not only developing your skills to build a successful business but are alleviating loneliness at the same time.
As humans, we crave connection and social interaction. But many entrepreneurs can feel very alone and isolated, especially in the early years of business. These strategies have helped my clients and I successfully combat loneliness at work. I hope they support you too.
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Stacey Back is a professional coach to existing and aspiring consultants and the Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving professionals go from feeling trapped in their corporate careers to developing the confidence and strategy to transition into their own consulting businesses.
Stacey also supports existing consultants who are stuck in a business model they hate, working longer hours than ever or struggling to find clients or make money. She helps them set the foundations for their business to find more time, attract the right clients and grow the consulting businesses they desire. Stacey works virtually with individuals based across Australia and internationally.