Who will do it if I don’t? No one.
There are moments when, as an entrepreneur, I literally hide in my bed. Under the covers, I feel safe. I can wallow. I think to myself, “Am I making a huge mistake? Do I even know what I’m doing? What if this doesn’t work? What if this goes no where…again?”
Every entrepreneur feels like that. Every. Single. One.
It’s OK to have those feelings, and it’s OK to hide under the covers, as long as it is only for a minute. As an entrepreneur, it is up to YOU to pull yourself out of the funk and back to work. Your ability to keep going is directly related to the success of your business.
But it IS lonely…
As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve started many, many businesses. My first, in third grade, was selling crochet bookmarks on the playground. It’s in my nature. Some businesses I started out of sheer necessity. Other businesses I started accidentally, out of something that seemed to be working and have a demand. Through all of it, I’ve gotten used to people looking at me like I’m a unicorn. I’ve really got to work on my “elevator pitch.”
People look at me with a sort of vacant stare when it comes to talking about being a business owner–or worse–a start-up. You’re making something out of nothing. You may even be so novel in your idea that most people haven’t even thought of it! You did the research. You know it is viable. Don’t let their reaction make you doubt yourself (easier said than done).
The truth is, many people just don’t understand what it is like to be an entrepreneur! They can’t identify with the drive behind starting a venture, the vulnerability of starting fresh, the necessity to wear every. hat. all. the. time.
But are you really alone? No. Just Google the title of this article!
Meredith Fineman wrote an article for Fast Company entitled, ” An Entrepeneur Opens Up About How She Fights Lonliness At Work.” Aside from summing up all my emotions in a few paragraphs, she hits on a few key elements to fighting loneliness: reaching out to others and taking care of your health.
You have got to pick up the phone. Call the right people. You know you have a few people you should NEVER call about your business worries. I know I do. Those are the people who really don’t understand what you do, don’t believe it will work, or would actually enjoy seeing you fail. Maybe they are jealous. Whatever—stop calling them when you need a leg-up out of the dumps. It won’t help.
Instead, call a mentor. Call another business owner. Go to a networking event and meet someone new. Research this topic on the web and engage in the comment section of one of the articles. Use your social media platforms in a positive way.
Remember–you have to nurture your support system. You must also be a support to the people who are in your network. Choose carefully.
You are the backbone of your business…and nothing is worse than a back injury. You have to take care of yourself. Food is strong medicine, so you must eat properly. Exercise is a great stress reliever and a valid time for you to check in with your body. Make a habit of self-care. If you think you don’t have time, try running your company while you are sick in bed. Not gonna happen. Think of taking care of yourself as an insurance policy. Every time you are at the gym, in Zumba, or training for a 5K, you are making yourself strong and whole.
For me, group exercise classes are the strongest weapons in my arsenal to fight loneliness. The energy released after exercise gives me just enough boost to get out of a rut. The music and following someone else’s directions for a while helps give my mind some space. After it is over, I feel like I’ve done something. I’ve met some great people along the way–and we never talk about work.
Fineman discusses the dichotomy between alone and lonely. She states that, “there is an important amount of alone time and loneliness that is necessary for creation.” I completely agree. Some of my best ideas come when I’m trying to sleep!
I am, however, an extrovert. People energize me. I do my best work with and for people, but I’m all alone in my office. People who work at home often feel isolated. The key is getting out and going somewhere designed for work. Starbucks or other “free wi-fi” places can be great for a change of scenery–but they are not places for like-minded conversation. Have you ever gone up to anyone and asked them what they were working on? Probably not.
Virtual office spaces can be a great place to work and be around people. Business incubators are another great resource. Look it up and see if there are any in your town. We have FirstWaVE Center, Largo’s Tampa Bay Innovation Center, several connected to the University of South Florida, and SMARTstart in Dade City. These incubators provide training, mentors, equipment, space, and assistance to start-ups. If you haven’t heard of them before, check them out.
The SMARTstart incubator, managed by Krista Covey, has a lot of events and opportunities for involvement from specialized networking events to closed-door Roundtables. These events are designed for you to meet other entrepreneurs in a non-competitive way.
I hadn’t even heard of business incubators until I attended Pasco’s BizGrow 2.0 conference last week. Keep your eye out for relevant conferences in your price range. You can get inspired, meet new people, and learn about the support system available in your community. It is easy to get bogged down in the details of your own business–to the point that you are oblivious to the help available right next door.
How do you handle business loneliness? Was there ever any piece of advice you heard that helped you keep going?