Going from a crowded office to running a franchise from your kitchen table can feel isolating at first. But there’s plenty you can do to stave off the solitude
When you're setting up your first business, the excitement builds with each task. From launching the company and opening a business bank account to buying office furniture and marketing your enterprise, it's all very exciting. In the midst of this whirlwind of activity, the last thing the freshly self-employed would expect to feel is lonely. In fact, many people starting their new business don't consider potential loneliness to be a factor at all.
However, if you're used to the camaraderie of working within a team and sharing the highs and lows with colleagues, working for yourself for the first time can be a shock to the system. You can find yourself without anyone to celebrate a big win with or to chat to after a tough day. This can lead you to feel isolated and depressed.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to keep loneliness at bay.
Join a professional network
Are there any professional groups you could meet up with on a regular basis? Initially, attend as a guest while you work out if the group is going to work for you. Look at breakfast meetings such as those organised by the British Chambers of Commerce or local business groups. Ensure you plan your week around the meeting and attend every session.
Start each day with ten phone calls before 10am
Establish a great work ethic and start each day by talking to people. I advocate making ten phone calls before 10am each working day. As a self-employed person, it's easy to get distracted, particularly if you're working from home, so starting each day ready to do business will ensure you speak to someone every day.
Attend business lunches or coffee meetings
Plan one of these every week and think strategically about who would be good to spend time with. You can keep the cost down by going for a pie and a pint or a coffee in the local cafe. Make sure you have an informal agenda and know what you want to achieve as a result of investing this time.
Work in a shared office space
If you're finding yourself missing the office banter, how about looking for shared office space? This will allow you to work with others without giving up the independence of working for yourself.
Spend time talking with positive people
Most importantly, avoid doubters and negative people, whether they're a professional contact or a friend. You have a responsibility to yourself and your business to surround yourself with positive people; individuals who will make you feel good about yourself and your business. If your friends are negative, get new friends. Working in a new business is tough enough without you taking on other people’s negativity.
Working for yourself is so rewarding. With planning, you can learn to enjoy the solitude by keeping yourself busy and avoiding the killer of entrepreneurial ambition: loneliness.