Running your own business has a number of benefits, but one of the biggest drawbacks can be a feeling of loneliness and isolation, especially if you have left the corporate world to start up on your own. Suddenly that infrastructure of supportive colleagues, water cooler conversations and sandwich lunches has gone. No more Christmas parties or Friday nights at the local pub to cement that feeling of belonging. Before you know it the loneliness has become an unwelcome guest in your new existence. So how do you go from being deprived of support to having a wealth of it to call upon? The solution is to create your own community of like-minded people. Taking action and having a positive attitude is key; you can’t wait for them to turn up of their own accord.
If you follow these recommendations you will soon find that your unwelcome guest has left.
Approach the Competition
Try to attend at least one networking meeting a week. Set yourself a target to speak to a certain number of new people at each meeting. You need to determine into which category your new-found colleagues fall; identify those you want to follow up in order to get business and those you want to add to your support network. You may just find that those people who become part of your support network become clients – people buy from people they like.
Moxie Business Club
Women Unlimited has a great business club for SMEs called Moxie. It is unlike those networking associations where you are force-fed the business cards of everyone else sitting in the room and then put under immense pressure to sell these services and products. At Moxie things are very different. Not only do you get the opportunity to network in a relaxed atmosphere but also draw upon the wealth of talent in the room to act as a sounding board for your business. How often do you get the opportunity to have three or four successful people in their own field spend quality time helping you think through the challenges you are facing and how to arrive at a successful solution that works for you? At Moxie you get real insights from businesswomen who know that being successful matters not just to them but to all fellow Moxie members.
Try something new
Join social groups and make sure you try something new. There is nothing like stepping out of your comfort zone to make you realise just how fantastic a human being you are. Imagine the richness you will bring to your conversations as well as the new friends you will make.
Social networking is a great way to reach out, not just to people in your own field or geographic location but all over the world who share common business interests. You will be amazed at just how many people work independently and how encouraging they can be when you are having a tough day, especially if they have been through the same thing you are going through and have come through successfully at the other end.
Add interest to your working environment
There are spaces in and around London that provide touchdown work spaces and meeting areas, such as Hub at Kings Cross. Not only do they provide you with an opportunity to work but also to connect with people and learn. Don’t forget about the convenient wireless connection available at your local cafe. You can work uninterrupted for several hours and hold a meeting in its convivial surroundings.
Create your own distribution group of professionals. For example, if you are a freelance web designer join forces with an accountant, a PR specialist, a marketing consultant and an IT specialist, amongst others. You can recommend each others’ businesses and meet on a regular basis so that you support each other and share information from a business perspective.
A coach can be instrumental in helping you to solve the loneliness issue by working with you to think through your plan of action and your approach to creating your community of support. Your coach can challenge your thinking and make sure you widen your network and the parameters within which you operate. Make this one of your coaching goals so that in every session a few minutes are used to explore your progress.
One Step at a Time
At first all of this may seem a little bit daunting and time consuming but it can be achievable if you take one step at a time and plan effectively. You’ll be surprised to find how quickly you can enrich your environment and ensure that your self-employed status is vibrant, energised and no longer a lonely one.
About the Author: Carole Bozkurt, The Blueprint Practice. I have over 20+ years marketing and sales experience. In addition, I worked in a business coaching company for nine years; they pioneered executive coaching in the UK. The focus of their coaching was on helping people achieve succcess in both the corporate and SME world. I am also a business coach and a number of my clients are SMEs.