Working from home can seem lonely – if you let it. Here are 10 top tips to keep your home business buzzing.
Count your blessings
As we approach the holiday season and the Christmas buzz has hopefully been converted to a happy list of invoices, there’s a little more time to think about your new year resolutions. Many home-based business operators say that they are considering shifting from a home office out into the big wide world to overcome the feelings of isolation and loneliness.
While they have had a good year and the business is doing well, they miss the chats around the water cooler and, believe it or not, the intrigue of office politics and the chance to work closely with other people, bouncing ideas off colleagues.
This is especially relevant around Christmas time as people without family or an office environment can find it challenging to keep in touch with people – that day-to-day sense of being part of a community that has a life beyond the business.
Let me share 10 ways home-based business operators can combat loneliness (see also Eve Ash’s blog on depression at holiday times).
Here are a few ideas:
Visit a friend’s workplace and see what you are not missing out on – a lot of office environments are dull, boring and energy draining. Do the commute drive in the morning to arrive at 9.00am on the dot. Do you really want to hear other people’s problems all day (Melanie’s aunt and her cat)? This could be a good reality check; working from home can be great! Blissfully quiet (or not if you have your favourite music blaring) without the commute and being able to schedule your day how you like it.
- Join a network of entrepreneurs or business group, for example, Australian Institute of Management, TEC, Australian Institute of Company Directors, CEO Institute or attend your local government’s business breakfast get-togethers.
- Phone a friend and catch up outside the business world – see a movie, go to lunch, take the time to let your friends know you’re available and offer to have a get-together to watch the cricket at your place
- Take a whole-of-life approach, focusing on your health and join a gym, tennis club, swimming squad or another activity that enables you to meet new people and make new friends
- Focus on a hobby or passionate interest and sign up for classes – drawing, painting, coffee appreciation, learn to sail.
- Volunteer in your local community – enables you to give back, promotes a sense of well-being for making a valuable contribution to society and gets in touch with your sense of humanity.
- Make contact with your communities of interest – people who have businesses in the same industry and invite them around to your home for a chat.
- Try on-line interactive business communities and professional forums to find ideas for your business and future directions
- Engage a business coach to assist with planning, marketing and building your business or talk it over with your professional mentor (if you haven’t got one this says a lot; you better find one quick!).
- Spend time with other people’s kids if you don’t have your own to keep you busy and get support from your loved ones. Look to your extended family to help you combat loneliness through time together and they will turn out to be very understanding when you focus on the things that really matter in life.
Home-based business has one huge advantage over working for someone else – it gives you the chance to make changes, seek new directions and get closer to your end users. Don’t be afraid of picking up the phone and ringing your suppliers and best customers to wish them well for the festive season and ask them to feel free to give you a call when they have a moment. They too are likely to feel the need for human contact once the pressures of this year begin to fade.
Next year we’ll have a look at how to get the entrepreneurial fires burning and home base back on track for 2008.
Season Greetings and all the best for a happy and fulfilling New Year!
Dr Jane Shelton not only runs a business from home but is doing business research into people working from home. She is managing director of Marshall Place Associates, Melbourne’s independent think tank, and CEO (honourary) for ‘Life. Be in it.’ International. Shelton has a Doctorate in Business Administration at the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) at Swinburne University of Technology after a Master of Arts in Public Policy at Melbourne University and a Bachelor of Business in banking and finance at Monash University.
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