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4 Ways to Combat the Isolation and Loneliness of Being Your Own Boss

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4 Ways to Combat the Isolation and Loneliness of Being Your Own Boss

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 20, 2010 Updated: March 28, 2013

Making the move into business ownership can be one of the most exciting and liberating experiences; however, it can also be one of the most challenging.

Yes, you can expect to work long hours and deal with cash flow issues in the early years, but one aspect of business ownership often comes as a surprise, and, if not managed carefully, it can become all-consuming.

I'm talking about the sense of isolation that comes from going it alone.

It's a common experience for many small business owners particularly for sole proprietors or home-based business owners. But i-s also especially true of business owners who have chosen to leave their nine-to-five jobs to pursue their dream.

Gone is the nurturing team environment and the motivation that comes from working with others. And while many people work better alone, for others the pressures of business ownership can leave them feeling overwhelmed, isolated and alone' impacting both their work life and their personal lives.

Whatever your business type or wherever you work, here are some tips for managing the trials and tribulations of working alone and being your own boss.

1. Make Networking Work for You

Love it or hate it, networking in business is essential. Whether you are an independent contractor; a home-based business owner; or have a fully-fledged presence on Main Street' networking can get you out of the day-to-day silo of business ownership and help you overcome your sense of isolation.

The trouble is, networking gets a bad rap' i's perceived as schmoozing, if not downright self-serving. But the truth is networking can be invigorating and rewarding. Humans are social beings. They thrive on contact, shared experiences, and helping others. Even if you just hook up for a coffee with a former college buddy who has also taken a similar path into business ownership' the opportunity to share and learn from each other can help alleviate the sense of being alone in business. Here are some business networking tips that every small business owner can put to use and derive value from: : Going Beyond the'Schmooz' - How to Embrace Business Networking and Make it Work for Your Needs.

2. Find a Mentor, or Become a Mentor!

A mentor is someone who has been in your shoes, and successfully walked the walk of business ownership. He or she can provide informal advice, guidance, and motivation. But how do you find a mentor?

Sometimes i's a matter of getting to know fellow, non-competing business owners or seeking the free mentoring services of a professional association such as SCORE or your local SBDC. This article: 5 Tips for Finding and Working with a Business Mentor, explains more about where to find a mentor, how to approach him or her, and also offers tips for getting the most out of the relationship.

Alternatively, could you become a mentor? Mentoring a protégé can be a mutually beneficial relationship that places value on your experience and provides a reason for you to focus on the positives, share your wisdom, and place some perspective between you and your day-to-day business operations.

3. Take the Weight off Your Shoulders - Build a Team Focused on Collective Success

'Very few people are ever successful or a failure by themselves, and probably, one of the most powerful elements in creating success - is a powerful team.' Laurie Benson, CEO of Inacom Information Systems and 2009 'SBA National Women in Business' Champion.

In business, powerful teams not only drive results, they empower, challenge and motivate employees to learn, grow and participate in the collective success of the business itself. If you are an employer, changing your management style to focus on building an empowered and motivated team can help alleviate the stresses and strains of solo business ownership, and even help your bottom line. This article, Growing your Business as a Team: 10 Team Building Tips from the Real World of Small Business, offers insights from award-winning business owners on how they built successful teams.

4. If you Work from Home - Take Control of Your Demons and Distractions

One of the symptoms of feeling isolated as a business owner is a lack of motivation which can lead to easy distractions and a lack of productivity. This is especially true for home-based business owners who wrestle with: 1) Working in a physically isolated manner, and, 2) Managing the conflicting demands of business and home-life.

Taking steps towards managing your home-based business routine, your workload, and your day-to-day schedule can have a big impact on how you cope with these demands, and provide much-needed time on your calendar to step away from going it alone.

Read these Six Tips for Juggling Home-Based Business Success with Home Life Busy-ness! - and take control of your demons and distractions.

Alternatively, you might want to boost your productivity while alleviating isolation by making the move out of the home office to a real office or out-of-the-home office. This article from SCORE* explains the benefits and options for Moving Beyond Your Home Office*.

Additional Resources

*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

I can really identify with what you are talking about. I too started working for myself in Internet marketing and was initially excited by not having to answer to a boss and working the hours I wanted. However, the lack of daily social interaction soon became more and more important. Also, there was no body to get feedback from when I needed to talk. I definitely will take on board some of your suggestions. Many thanks for a very useful article. Morgan ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.
Going alone sounds romantic like sailing round the world. You soon realize however that having the work associations make those long days seem a little more tolerable. I say if you're going to work alone at a home office get a dog or cat so you have someone to talk to someone that will listen and someone you have to let out once in a while so you can stretch your legs. ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.

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