Note: This is the first article in a six-part series from Australia’s Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) on various hand-picked entrepreneurial topics, exclusively on Dynamic Business.
While many people dream of being their own boss, they may not realise that entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. You’re often the only person who understands your problems, with limited people to bounce ideas off or ask for help when things get tough. That can make it hard for entrepreneurs to feel like they have anyone in whom they can confide or lean on during those difficult times—but it doesn’t have to be that way.
This article will share seven top ways to help you overcome entrepreneur isolation. You will learn how entrepreneurs can find their community and feel supported through their journey.
Join business and entrepreneur groups in your area
Relying on friends and family for support as an entrepreneur can be tough as they’re often not in a position to understand the unique challenges you’re facing and may not always have the best advice. Joining a group or community of other like-minded entrepreneurs is one way to source aligned support and is beneficial for multiple reasons.
Other business owners are more likely to understand what you’re experiencing and can empathise and may also have similar experiences to share that may help in how you approach any given situation. Finding a community with a deep sense of trust where you can share not only your successes but face your biggest obstacles together is important for growth, success and maintaining your mental wellbeing as a founder.
However, not all business groups are equal. Some rely on referral models and can be heavily sales, while others may be targeting early-stage startups or specific genders only. Find what works for you and what will allow you the best chance to grow. Entrepreneurs’ Organisation is one of the longest-standing peer-to-peer entrepreneur networks globally. With five chapters across Australia, it counts some of the country’s most successful founders amongst its alumni.
All genders are welcome, focusing on inclusivity and personal growth as well as business growth. Business owners turning over more than $ 1 million are connected through a unique forum model, where ‘advice’ is never given. Instead, real-world examples and experience sharing are encouraged to ensure anyone facing a challenge can learn from those who have been there and done that, rather than receiving potentially biased opinions. Other benefits include global learning opportunities with regular social and educational events.
Take time away from your work often
If you don’t take regular breaks from your work, it can lead to burnout. This is true for any job, but especially if you’re an entrepreneur trying to grow a business while also dealing with the day-to-day operations and the stress that comes with them.
Taking time off can help prevent burnout and keep you on track. If possible, try taking at least one full day off each week where you do not work at all—you may need two or three days, depending on how much of your life is dedicated to working as an entrepreneur. During this time away from work, spend some quality time doing things that bring joy into your life: spending time with family and friends; pursuing hobbies or other passions; relaxing; going out for dinner; getting caught up on sleep; reading a book or listening to music (this could even be done during a commute).
Hire or contract help for your business needs.
You can hire or contract help for your business needs. Outsourcing is a great way to save time, money, and frustration, but also to have another set of eyes across your business activities and someone to bounce ideas off.
If you don’t have enough time to grow your business properly (because you’re too busy working on it), consider hiring someone who can take on some of those tasks for you. They might be able to do things like:
- Create new content for social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
- Update and manage your website with regular blog posts and updates about product lines/services offered by customers
- Handle customer service issues via email (or other communications mediums)
A Virtual Assistant (VA) can do the above and can be a great way to outsource some of this work before hiring an employee, which comes with its own challenges.
Use social media like LinkedIn to find other business owners in your industry
Connecting with others via LinkedIn is one way you can build your own network and find others in the same or similar industry. LinkedIn is a free professional social network that allows you to find and connect with other professionals in your industry, location, and niche.
LinkedIn has over 500 million users so there are plenty of people on the platform who may be able to help you solve problems or give advice. Remember to approach business owners respectfully and to offer something before asking for something. Value others’ time as much as you value your own.
Attend business and industry events in person (when safe to do so)
These days, this can be more challenging, with advice around socialising constantly changing with the waves of the pandemic and health concerns. If you can get to a networking event, go armed with more than a business card and elevator pitch. Be vulnerable and open to deeper connections. If you’re looking for a great conversation starter, consider wearing something remarkable. Something bold or colourful may also give people something to remember you by. It’s important in relationship building to maintain a connection beyond an event (even if it’s a regular business meetup where you will see them again).
If you have the flexibility and spare time to help others, volunteering can be a great way to meet people and stay connected to the community. Some entrepreneur groups may even have volunteer opportunities like the Entrepreneurs’ Organizations 360 mentoring program. In helping others, we increase our own happiness and sense of connection.
Find a mentor that aligns with your business goals
Find someone to support and encourage you as you work toward your goals.
A coach may also be able to help you set and stick to an action plan, but a mentor is more experienced support offering their knowledge, wisdom, and advice to those with less experience A mentor will help with identifying problems with the business and potential strategies for improving the business and are worth their weight in gold.
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, but you don’t have to go it alone. However, remember that no one can do it for you! It is up to each individual to take steps in order to create the life they want for themselves. Do your research and make time for the things that matter like staying connected, and trialling each to find what works best for you.
To find out more about entrepreneurs and business owners in your local community, visit https://www.eoaustralia.org/