When you first decide to strike it out on your own in the small business world, the excitement of starting your business can quickly fizzle into burnout. Everyone talks about the joys of maintaining your own schedule as an entrepreneur, but not many discuss the loneliness that can settle in fast. And if you’re a solopreneur dealing with the everyday loneliness of working alone, you’re not the only one.
To help you get through those days where being on your own doesn’t feel as exciting as it used to, we talked to entrepreneurs, freelancers, and therapists about the strategies you can use to avoid loneliness in your solopreneur career.
Join a Co-Working Space
Co-working spaces are popping up all over the U.S., and they’re often a great resource for solopreneurs looking to socialize with like-minded individuals. “[A co-working space] will get you out of the house, socializing with others, and help you build rapport while still focusing on your own projects,” says Dr. Julie Gurner of Gurner Consulting. “The other benefit is that you often connect with talent that truly understands and supports your work, which can feel validating and motivating.”
Some spaces, such as WeWork, also offer benefits and perks for those who join, providing even bigger incentive for you to get out there around like-minded entrepreneurs and get some work done.
Go to Local Meetups and Industry Events
Attending industry conferences can also help you build your skills—something you may feel like you’re missing since leaving the corporate world. “Go to local meetups with like-minded people when they happen, and seek them out,” says Dr. Gurner. She also recommends looking for events and meetups specific to your professional interests. For example, “If you’re in SEO, you might greatly benefit not just from going to a local conference for the information, but for the people you’ll meet.”
Local meetups will also provide yet another space for you to easily connect with people that have the same professional interest as you. “Even though I work at home, I attend industry conferences and events. Not only does this help me perfect my skills and learn new things that I can apply to my job, but it also helps provide me with the kind of social interaction that I might get if I worked in a more traditional office job. It brings excitement to the job,” says Emily Mendez, M.S. EdS of On the Wagon.
Local meetups can also connect you with the business owners in your area. By meeting the business owners in your area you may open up all kind of partnership opportunities for your business as well.
Find an Accountability Partner
Sometimes the best motivation is someone who is there pushing you along, even if they’re not directly on your team.
“After two years in business, there are several ways I’ve found to combat loneliness. The first, which is always something I recommend, is to find an accountability partner. This has enormous benefits both personally and professionally. I had an accountability partner for six months last year, and then we found a few others like us and turned it into a mastermind this year. Either way, it’s fantastic to have that sense of community, especially with people who are in similar stages of business,” – Kristi Porter, marketing consultant at Signify.
Take a Break
Finally, just getting out of your workspace during a day where you’re feeling detached from the world can do wonders. “I like to use the freedom of working from home to make the most of the simple things like going on a bike ride when my brain feels frazzled from staring at the screen for too long,” says David Alexander, designer and developer for Mazepress.
On days where you’re swamped but want some company, breaking the silence of your workspace with a talk show or your favorite podcast can even be enough to create a more warm atmosphere, “[Podcast hosts] have become my adopted workmates. Sure it’s a one-way relationship but at least the podcasts relate to my work,” says David.
And just like 9-5 workers often take advantage of their lunch break, so should you. “One way I found to mix socializing AND work was to try to go for lunch with a friend around once a week. It was this kind of ritual that allowed me to take a nice break in the middle of the day, recharge, and it was time I was going to spend away from work anyways.” – Javier Nanni, CEO of Terapia Point
The unfortunate reality is, solopreneur loneliness comes with the gig. By leaving the corporate world, you may interact with fewer people on a day-to-day basis, but remember it’s all for the end goal: building your business.
Just like a regular 9-5, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut in your own self-made career. That’s why reaching out to mentors, accountability partners, or simply taking a break from your work to get outside, will always improve your mindset and help you feel like you’re regular old productive and creative self again.