Employee asleep at his desk

Soloist? You’re not alone.

Being a small business owner has so many benefits! We are the backbone of the Australian economy and yet experience so many wonderful aspects of business that those employed in the corporate world cannot.

For example:

  • you are your own boss
  • if you are a soloist and are not seeing any clients you can wear whatever you like to work
  • no office politics
  • want to hang Star Wars posters up on the office walls – feel free!
  • you work to your own schedule and preferences
  • you can hold meetings via Skype video (just wear a suit jacket over your PJs!)
  • running your own business makes you more confident in your abilities
  • office pets, no office pets – it’s entirely up to you
  • no workplace bullying (although we can beat ourselves up pretty bad)
  • no one to steal the pens from the stationary cupboard
  • less (or no) pointless team meetings
  • you can hire whoever you want to work with
  • no annoying colleagues.

With all of these benefits come some nasty downsides, with one of the biggest issues being isolation.

When you are a small business owner, particularly if you are a soloist or have a very small team, you can start to feel cut off from the rest of the world.

Tony Featherstone (a writer and solo business owner) explained, “Isolation takes many forms. An entrepreneur working from home may miss the social interaction of corporate life and feel cut off from the world. A small business owner may feel isolated if their phone hardly rings, customer orders are slow, or funds are too low to hire staff.

“An entrepreneur can feel isolated if they see an opportunity that small-minded colleagues cannot grasp, but are still happy to criticise the idea and dampen enthusiasm. Or they may struggle to interact with friends or family who have corporate jobs and do not understand the nature of entrepreneurship, the rollercoaster ride that sometimes accompanies it, and the often strange working hours.”

So what do you do to deal with isolation?

Here are some ways that we have found to help us in our businesses as soloists:

  • Exercise regularly – a great ‘pick-me-up’ and gets you out of the office (or home office).
  • Make interaction part of your daily or weekly routine. That can be as simple as going out to buy yourself a coffee or meeting your suppliers face-to-face occasionally.
  • Pick up the phone and call a client or supplier instead of sending an email. It shows that you are interested in their updates and builds rapport.
  • Substitute some days of working from home (for those working from a home office) with working from a coffee shop, a park or a serviced office.
  • Talk to fellow soloists, clients and other business owners on social media. There are no set times to do this and you can join conversations when the opportunity arises throughout the day. We usually send out a tweet or two whilst on hold with a supplier or agency.
  • Attend business events, networking opportunities and social events for fellow small business owners. Jolly Solo is a big Christmas party exclusively for soloists and business owners with very small teams, so you don’t miss out on end-of-year celebrations and a great Christmas party just because you are a small business.

By making a deliberate effort to beat isolation, the positives of being a small business owner certainly outweigh the negatives. So here’s to the soloists and small business owners who know they are not alone!

Why do you like being a small business owner? What do you do to deal with isolation?

Janna Fikh, owner of Fletcher Tax Accountants, and Leah Klugt, owner of The Golden Goose Design Studio, have joined together to create Jolly Solo, a Christmas Party for solo business operators and very small businesses.

Jolly Solo is an opportunity for soloists to celebrate the year that has been, be inspired and to cement or increase their connections with other business owners for both support and business networking.

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