Whether you are a solo entrepreneur, or a small business owner scaling to six and seven figures, it can be lonely at the top. The emotional impact of entrepreneurial isolation, loneliness and self-doubt is real.
There are 7 ways to overcome the biggest challenge of entrepreneurship: the loneliness dilemma. Click here, to listen to the audio version.
The journey of entrepreneurship can undoubtedly be an exciting one. You set your own hours, work from anywhere you want and answer to no one but yourself and your team.
On the flip side, business owners often feel the emotional impact of entrepreneurial isolation, loneliness and self-doubt. Whether you work alone, or have a small team, it can be lonely at the top. But it doesn’t have to be. To combat this, it’s crucial to proactively seek social interactions and support from other professionals in your situation.
As a business growth and executive coach, I work with business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders. And one theme that continues to show itself in my practice is the loneliness dilemma. Studies show that CEOs claim the biggest issue they face in their roles is not having anyone to confide in. They have an overwhelming responsibility and pressure to appear calm for employees and consistently deliver results, while leading with grace. According to the Harvard Business Review, half of CEOs express feelings of loneliness, 61% of which believe loneliness hinders their job performance.
Loneliness can make you sick. It’s been proven that social isolation affects behavior and brain operation. Isolation and loneliness trigger that fight-or-flight response, which can lead to ill health and even death. Loneliness can affect your sleep patterns and stress hormones. It’s crucial to learn how to overcome these feelings of loneliness at work so you can be healthier and work more efficiently.
Here are 7 ways to overcome entrepreneurial isolation:
- Participate In Industry Organizations
Joining and actively participating in industry groups has been vital to my success. Instead of reinventing the wheel or learning through trial and error, I’m able to bounce ideas off peers and learn from their expertise. In addition, I’m never alone. Look for organizations with an active e-list or group where you can share ideas or challenges and get immediate feedback.
- Find A Business Coach
Being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Surrounding yourself with the right people is crucial. One step you can take is to hire a business coach. A good business coach will create a safe space for you to share your burdens, validate your emotions and offer the shift in perspective required to inspire you to get creative with new ideas and solutions.
- Reach Out To Your Network
The biggest challenge is living in a self-imposed echo chamber. To combat this, I consciously reach out to my network and schedule lunches and phone calls with people I respect and who will provide insight and challenge me. I try to be aware of my strengths and weaknesses and schedule time with people who complement both. Ask people to challenge you, and thank them when they do. I have several friends who are also solopreneurs, and we schedule weekly coffee breaks with each other to ensure we step away from the keyboard and have some social time. Most of the events that we attend are networking events, which require our professional faces, so the coffee breaks are often times to vent about work issues or to talk about upcoming projects.
- Join Or Lead Your Own Tribe Of Entrepreneurs
The mindset of an entrepreneur means you are independent and have core values different from others. The biggest challenge is isolation: not having like-minded persons to share your frustrations and never-ending new ideas. The solution is to join or start your own entrepreneur tribe via Meetup.com, Facebook, LinkedIn or in person gatherings.
- Join A Coworking Space
A client of mine recently realized her productivity was suffering from constant distractions and interruptions at home. She joined a coworking space, which has allowed her to bring more structure into her workday and to build community in person. She still has the flexibility to work from anywhere, but most days finds herself eager to go into the office, and her productivity has already skyrocketed as a result.
- Hire Good Help and Build Your A-Team
Being an entrepreneur can be challenging and, at times, overwhelming. Without the structure that you have working within an organization, it becomes fundamental to create your own structure within your business. You should create an A-team to support you on the journey. This may include coaches, mentors, service providers, outsourced team members and health professionals to keep you at your best. The best investment you can make in your business is in other people. Find the areas you excel at and laser in on those areas, then hire people to help with everything else. You don’t need to hire full-time staff, either. Make use of virtual assistants (VAs) and contractors who can make your job easier and allow you to focus on the areas you’re most talented in.
- Join A Mastermind
Entrepreneurs can easily get stuck in a rut due to their isolation. It’s quite tempting to bury your head under a pillow rather than motivate yourself to jumpstart the day. Masterminds not only alleviate the feeling of being alone but also provide something to look forward to as you prepare to share in the next session. Masterminds also allow you to gain fresh perspectives on old problems, and encourage you to think bigger!
I hope these tips have been helpful. For the sake of your mental and emotional health, I encourage you to pick one suggestion out of the 7 I shared with you here, and implement it. Your future self will thank you for it.
Drop me a comment and tell me the one action you are committed to taking, in order to mitigate entrepreneurial isolation.
To your success,