Being your own boss, controlling your own financial future, saving big bucks on commuting….these are just some of the many so-called perks that come along with owning and operating your own business. And while the thought of starting your own home-based or other small business or even buying a business opportunity or franchise may seem glamorous, there is one dirty little secret that comes along with the territory that few people stop to think about…It can be very lonely.
In fact, one of the biggest complaints many small business owners have is that they oftentimes feel incredibly isolated from the outside world. And while that sense of solitariness might seem refreshing at first, the novelty can wear off all too quickly. This is especially true if you are a first-time small business owner who has just left either the corporate world or some other employment environment where you answered to someone else and had lots of colleagues to banter with over the water cooler each day.
Yes, there will probably come a time when you miss all that.
That said here are what some of the experts in the field of mental and physical health have to say on the subject of keeping your sanity when it’s just you against the world in business:
• Routine is a good thing―Getting up at the same time each day, getting dressed to go to work (even though your office may be only steps from your bedroom), eating lunch and taking breaks are all absolutely necessary to your mental health. And your sense of mental well-being is critical to whether or not you can remain resilient in times of isolation and uncertainty.
• Seek out professional and other business relationships―Networking is not just about getting your name out there and marketing your products and services, it’s also a crucial part of staying sane when you are self-employed. Don’t just gauge your success at a function in terms of how many business cards you handed out, but consider how important it is for you to simply take time out to connect with other people just for the sake of doing so. Actively seek out others who are successful in business that you respect and ask them to meet for coffee on occasion, not just so you can pitch your wares, but so you build a network of support that you can call on when times are tough. Meet clients in person whenever you can.
• Employ self-motivation techniques―Loneliness can all too rapidly devolve into depression, which is never good for your bottom line, let alone your overall well-being. Practice basic techniques that will foster resilience and keep you inspired and energized, such as goal setting, taking care of your physical health, rewarding yourself for a job well done and evaluating the cost of not doing something, among others.
• Seek out professional support services―Be open to the idea of hiring a professional life coach or mentor, even if it entails spending a little money. These individuals are trained in how to provide you with the coping skills necessary to find fulfillment even when times are tough. Don’t forget, you can always step up to mentor someone else as well. Nothing works as well as helping someone else when you want to lighten your own emotional load.
• Make time for the people that matter most―Business ownership can be all-consuming, especially if you’re a one-man or woman shop and the onus of earning money is all on you. But the price you pay for ignoring the most important people in your life, no matter how much money you make, can be too high. If your relationships are not intact, then your business will likely suffer. So carve time out for friends and family, especially the ones that bolster your spirits and give you confidence.
• Communicate clearly what you need―Be clear in communicating with those most special to you what it is you need from them that would help you in your business endeavors, as well as your personal life. Whatever ails you at work is always made better when you have the support of people that care and when everything else in your life is relatively copacetic.
• Know when to quit―It’s not something any upstart business owner even wants to think about, but sometimes the best laid plans just don’t work out. If the time ever comes when stepping away from being your own boss seems like the most prudent move, know that it’s okay. You wouldn’t be the first or the last person to give business ownership a try, only to find out it’s not all that you thought it would be or that it just doesn’t suit you. Just don’t give up on finding your life’s path, no matter where it may take you next.