By Anna Gratte
Research has shown a sense of connectedness is essential for mental wellbeing. But for many entrepreneurs, this sense of connectedness is hard to find, and subsequently, loneliness envelopes.
Being an entrepreneur is tough.
You have to take on the pressures of starting a business and getting it running, you’re responsible for all decision making, you’re the leader, and you deal with any and all difficulties faced. It’s no wonder that loneliness is an increasingly pressing struggle.
However, it’s rarely talked about or discussed. When the relevance of female entrepreneurs is on the rise and a link has been made between entrepreneurial loneliness and burnout — something all entrepreneurs want to avoid — that needs to change.
If you’re an entrepreneur, or you know an entrepreneur, consider these strategies to combat loneliness. Because behind every successful woman is often a sisterhood of other successful women who have her back.
1. Find an accountability partner
The wonderful and inspiring entrepreneur Dr Pragya Agarwal wrote an interesting article discussing entrepreneurial loneliness.
She identified that “…one thing that many solo entrepreneurs have reported missing the most is having the accountability of working in an office or corporate team … [to] motivate and drive them forward”.
Agarwal suggests finding “an accountability partner” who can be particularly helpful when it comes to achieving your goals.
If we aren’t held accountable goals can be a struggle. By taking on an accountability partner you will be held responsible, they will cheer you on, provide motivation and support, and will help you celebrate the wins.
They are also great for brainstorming, bouncing ideas off, and gaining creative input. Plus, they can challenge you! An accountability partner can push you forward to gain the momentum you need to take your business to the next level.
So how do you find an accountability partner?
In general, it should be someone who challenges (not condemns) you and you should find them trustworthy. A business coach is a great option. They can help educate and train you, but will also hold you accountable and assist you in achieving your goals. It’s important that you meet with them regularly, such as once a week. These meetings don’t have to be formal — they could simply be a coffee date at your favourite cafe. But, make sure they’re regular because regular meetings will help keep you accountable and they will aid in mitigating feelings of loneliness.
2. Find your sisterhood
Agarwal also touches on the importance of being a part of a community of like-minded individuals.
Being a part of a community goes back to basic human instinct and the notion of ‘safety in numbers’. It’s only natural to feel lonely if you don’t have a community of people who are on a similar journey as you.
A community can provide you with support and motivation, as well as the opportunity to have fun and establish long-term connections and friendships. Plus, you can learn from your community members, and they can learn from you! A community may even give you the opportunity to find a mentor who will help guide you and your business.
A significant threat to entrepreneurs who are experiencing loneliness is the loss of inspiration. However, all entrepreneurs know it’s important to remain inspired because it’s necessary to adapt to changes and grow your business. But this can become very challenging when loneliness takes hold — this is where your community steps in. Community members can inspire you to keep the motivation flowing and they will be able to provide support when you are struggling or your business is facing a problem.
So, have you found your sisterhood?
3. Get networking
Attending networking events is another great way to build your community and business network and prevent any feelings of loneliness. Plus, it’s a great place to make new friends too!
It’s easy to get started: a simple Google search will bring up a wide selection of opportunities. Why not try ‘networking events near me’ and see what pops up.
However, networking does not just address the issue of loneliness. There are a number of other values associated with networking. These include, but certainly aren’t limited to:
- Increasing your brand awareness;
- Building your list;
- Finding sales opportunities;
- Market discovery;
- Appreciation for the needs of your target market; and
- Finding collaboration opportunities.
Before you start networking, it’s important you have a networking strategy in place. Such a strategy will help you maximise your time and effort, and establish connections that will benefit you in the long run, ultimately resulting in a much more fruitful experience.
A great way to grow your network is to regularly meet with like-minded individuals. This links back to your community. For example, you could join a networking group that meets once a month. These regular meetings will help you remain accountable and will aid in preventing loneliness.
If you can’t find a networking group, why not create your own? Reach out to the relevant connections you’ve made through networking events. Simply pick a local cafe to meet at regularly, such as once a fortnight, and get the ball rolling!
To help with your group, it would benefit if you established a meeting structure. This will maximise the value of the meetings for you and the members. For example, in the initial stages, you could start the meeting by going around the group and getting each of the members to introduce themselves and their business. You could then select a member a week to have a more in-depth discussion about their business and what they do. This presents a great opportunity for you and your members to grow your public speaking skills.
4. Do the little things
As entrepreneur Rhonda Abrams explains, there are some little things you can do every day to help mitigate feelings of loneliness.
Go outside, take a walk, and get some fresh air. Restore your perspective. There’s a whole world out there just waiting to reduce your sense of loneliness. And celebrate the wins — all of them! They are all a significant achievement, no matter how small you feel they are.
Also, if you work from home, why not try out a shared or co-working workspace? These spaces help to establish a sense of community and collaboration, and they are a great place for networking and meeting like-minded individuals. What’s even better is that some come with bonus amenities, such as a gym, childcare centre, cafe, and even a hairdresser.
You can help us (and help yourself)
Small and medium businesses and startups have never needed credible, independent journalism and information more than now.
That’s our job at SmartCompany: to keep you informed with the news, interviews and analysis you need to manage your way through this unprecedented crisis.
Now, there’s a way you can help us keep doing this: by becoming a SmartCompany supporter.
Even a small contribution will help us to keep doing the journalism that keeps Australia’s entrepreneurs informed.