Are you feeling the pangs of entrepreneurial loneliness in your business?
We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s lonely at the top”.
That statement typically brings to mind images of high-level CEOs working 80+ hours a week, late into the night, in a brick and mortar company.
For entrepreneurial CEOs running our businesses virtually, it feels similar, yet different.
We started our online business to create our own hours, work from anywhere in the world (our home office), and make a living from our passions.
And we do it alone.
Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert (that’s me), you will experience feelings of loneliness in growing your online business.
We all experience highs from our successes in building a business from a mere vision, and we experience lows from the inevitable failures and setbacks of turning that dream into reality.
These moments make us aware that we’re alone in this big thing we’re creating.
While accomplishment feels really cool, our awareness of just how big this thing is can turn into depression and paralyze us from taking the next steps to grow our business.
All my clients run their businesses from home offices, and all have felt lonely doing it. It’s indeed a self-imposed isolation. In the beginning of our entrepreneurial journey, the trade-off of not having people around us is fine.
Then we realize no one shares our passion or understands what we’re doing.
My husband must be the most supportive person on the face of the earth, and he readily admits he knows the name of the service my business provides but does not understand “really” what I do.
He is very happy in his work as an employee and does not know how to totally engage with me when I need to talk out business decisions or deal with challenges and obstacles. I can feel alone in those moments.
That’s not on him… that’s on me.
Have you experienced maybe a little anger or disappointment when your friends and family no longer ask you, “How’s work”?
We are passionate entrepreneurs who love what we do, we do it on our terms, and we mostly do it alone.
We can feel alone when we don’t have a physical office full of people who are working toward the same goals.
We don’t have staff meetings around a large oak table with key players and team members high-fiving each other for hitting major accomplishments and discussing next steps together. We don’t have water cooler moments.
I’ve been providing online business management services since I left the corporate brick and mortar workforce in 2008.
I no longer take and lead meetings around conference tables with my team around me discussing the ebbs and flows of projects and goals.
I no longer have my team right outside my office or in the same building for those quick touch-bases on how a project is going.
I manage my client businesses, lead their teams, celebrate accomplishments, grieve and re-calibrate failures, and manage day-to-day operations and marketing in a virtual space. Strategy calls and team discussions are communicated via Zoom and other online tools.
The following are a few things I’ve learned along the way that may help when you feel the pangs of loneliness in your business.
Get Clear and Hold Boundaries
In the early years of building my business, I worked all the time. The pursuit of growing the business took over my life.
There was little balance as all thoughts were focused on the huge challenges and joys of getting clients, service delivery, business building, and marketing.
As you move through your entrepreneurial journey, well-meaning friends and family may urge you to quit and get a “real job”.
I often think of Winston Churchill’s inspirational statement from his commencement speech,
“Never, never, never give up.”
I stayed committed to my dream and just needed to find a way to do it better.
Hire a Coach to Help You Navigate in Your Business
One of the business areas I felt the loneliest in, and I see this with other women entrepreneurs as well, was the support I needed to make big decisions for my business.
After nearly 30 years working as an employee, in 2008 I was the CEO of my own business. I did not always know which path was best and constantly questioned myself.
Do I go this way or that way?
What were my risks?
Who would I serve and how would I serve?
What do I need to learn to do myself and what do I delegate?
How do I successfully transfer 30 years of business experience in brick-and-mortar to serve clients in an online space?
Would I end up going back to work for someone else and abandon my vision?
I needed the support from someone who had successfully walked the path before me - someone to be my light in the darkness (we all know that can be a lonely place).
Today, I’m further along my journey as an entrepreneur and I still don’t always know the best path, which is why I hired a coach to help me think strategically about my business.
My coach helped me hone the skills I needed to grow, which supported me in not feeling so alone in my business. That support continues today.
Get an Accountability Partner
I have an accountability partner I meet with every week. It’s a reciprocal relationship that started out as a component of my coaching program. The match was such a good fit that we’ve continued to meet, two years after our first meeting.
That weekly meeting has become an important part of business development for both of us. We home office-based entrepreneurs need a trusted partner to share the accomplishments and challenges of growing our business. We need someone who will gently and lovingly hold our feet to the fire for the actions we commit to for the week to grow our business.
Join a Mastermind Group
My mastermind partner Cindy and I have been together for over eight years now. We started a small mastermind group back when mastermind groups were popping up in the marketplace.
As Certified Online Business Managers, we felt we needed support as we were developing our skills and managing the challenges of providing high-level business management support in a virtual space.
We had many years of experience leading and managing in corporate environments, and now we were leading and managing over the Internet.
Our original small group no longer exists, but Cindy and I have remained trusted friends and colleagues and help each other navigate the important decisions in our respective businesses and provide honest feedback on ideas and challenges. I am never alone in my business with my friend Cindy.
Different kinds of mastermind groups are available. Being an active and committed part of a group of other business owners can help you not feel alone in your business as you find the support and feedback you need to grow your business in a trusted environment.
Click here to learn how to find and connect with an online Mastermind Group.
Network and Build Community
I love getting away from my office and communicating with people who are standing in front of me (not on a computer screen, lol).
I’ve found that attending conferences and events where I can connect with people has been a shot in my arm, an immunization, against loneliness in my business.
Actually, I’m communicating throughout each day with clients and their teams. Loneliness is not about not having someone to talk to. The feeling of being lonely will show up when we are not connecting on a deeper level with people and feel isolated.
Loneliness is not about not having someone to talk to.
Are you feeling lonely in your business? Feel like no one “gets” you? Believe me, I do. Leave me a comment below and let me know if this blog post helped you, or share with me how you’ve learned to deal with loneliness on your entrepreneurial journey.