Running your own business can be all absorbing, exciting, challenging and – lonely. It can feel like nobody knows what’s happening in your world; how important it is that the next stage of your website is ready or that your followers went up by 30 this week. Sometimes, when you are running your own business, it feels like you’re totally alone. The good news is, there are lots of business owners in the same position, feeling isolated and frustrated, questioning their commitment and ability to succeed on their own, every day.
Getting strong foundations in place to support you, at every stage of your business, is a great way to ensure you can build and stand strong in difficult times – like now. It is never too late to start; we can put foundations in place at every stage of our business, for the next stage.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Be honest about where you are, right now. Are you isolated because you choose to be or because of genuine restrictions? Are you creating opportunities to meet new people, people who are also building a business.
- Be clear about who you are looking for. This is not about hunting for clients. This is about building a “tribe” around you, a group of people you can depend on. Like-minded people who are there to support and encourage each other.
- Don’t worry – it doesn’t have to get “touchy-feely” this is about letting people know when you need support. Sharing those challenges and being prepared to say “I’m not fine right now.”
- Ask for help. Sounds simple – so why don’t we do it? Usually because we believe we should know something already, that we should have the answers or be able to find them ourselves. We are concerned that our credibility will be damaged; in truth, credibility is often built when we have the courage to ask for help and to take the action required to resolve an issue or learn something new.
When we feel isolated it is easy to forget that we can start a conversation too. Taking the initiative can be a step into the dark but it’s worth taking. I was asked by a client this week whether to stop tweeting as he had not been getting much response. I suggested that he stop tweeting statements and start asking questions; he had his first reply within four minutes. He started a conversation. You don’t need to wait for someone else to break the silence, you can take the first step – and don’t be put off it takes a while to get a response, people have to get to know you.
I often joke that my commute is around 30 seconds – from my home office to my sitting room. I enjoy a little gloat when my ex-colleagues talk about their 90 minute daily journey, squashed on the tube, getting up-close and personal with a stranger’s armpit. And then I remember how many people I would smile at on my journey home, how many people I said “Good evening” to, how a small group of us used to meet and share our day on the journey home. Even that brief interaction was an important part of my day.
Without a commute, it is important to create time with others. If leaving your office is not an option, there are a plethora of tools available to allow you to hold on-line meetings with cameras allowing participants to feel more connected. If you are able to leave the office – then do it. Take a look at what is on locally that is of interest and go. It may not be a business related event and that’s great; business people have lives and interests too! Schedule an appointment ever y week; an appointment called “Time with others” or “Finding out who else is out there” whatever works for you and stick to it.
There are plenty of people out there, all it takes is “Hello” to start the conversation.
I originally wrote this for Virgin.com when I was a VIB (Very Important Blogger). Since then. we have moved to a tiny village in Wales, where our closest friends are a number of miles away. It would be even easier now to become isolated. I’m finding new and fun ways to get out into the community as I can and loving the connections it is creating for me.