Beating Self-Employed Loneliness
People often set up their own businesses thinking they’ll have plenty of human contact with all the work they will have. The reality however, can be quite the opposite, so what can you do if you’re self-employed and feeling lonely?
It’s ironic that a role that seems busy with constant communication can feel so lonely. Similar to the perceived freedom associated with running your own business to only feel like a slave to admin: GST returns and photocopier repairs.
People often set up their own business thinking that working with their clients will give them plenty of human contact, but fail to recognise the importance of collegiality. A professional interaction with a customer doesn’t give quite the same satisfaction as banter between colleagues. So with the rise of professionals working remotely or for themselves, how can they beat loneliness?
Working with a Team
In any job there are good days and there are days that are less so. Sometimes it feels good to vent about what was or what could have been. Your customer or supplier doesn’t want to hear that. Maybe your colleagues don’t either, but there is mutual benefit in getting something off your chest and moving on, rather than dwelling in isolation. Sometimes too much thinking time is counterproductive if it’s not focused in the right direction.
Something candidates constantly tell us is the importance of working in a team. Even people who prefer autonomy appreciate the opportunity to bounce ideas and spark off others. This theme is as consistent as the requirement to not work for a micro manager, usually based on previous experience of being managed microscopically and a compelling reason to become your own boss in the first place.
One solution to the isolation of working remotely or autonomously is networking. Honing your networking skills will increase opportunities for you to discuss industry issues with like-minded people. Although, not everybody’s cup of tea – often people who think they’re really good at networking can be quite annoying in that situation, talking confidently about themselves and how they have a deal for me. Others find it somewhat nerve-wracking, approaching strangers, asking ‘mind if I join you?’
I recall a training video on networking, back when videos were on tape – possibly not the most up-to-date thinking on the topic to share now. I remember being instructed to announce your departure when you finish a conversation and want to talk to another person in the room. A suggested line was, "Well, there must be more interesting people you want to talk to, I’ll leave you to it.” The very next networking event I attended someone said to me, "Well, there must be more interesting people you want to talk to.”
I couldn’t. I was speechless.
Another alternative to the isolation of working for yourself, whilst retaining the flexibility and control, is contracting. Our upcoming whitepaper, ‘Rise of the Contingent Workforce’ has revealed a significant growth in the uptake of this option, which gives employers and employees greater flexibility without the loneliness self-employment often entails. It also allows you to focus on your core capability rather than being stretched across the breadth of challenges facing a small business, drawn into admin and other duties outside of your speciality. When running your own business, some things you can’t avoid – either way, you’ll still need to complete your GST return.
Despite conversing with clients and customers all day-every day, being self-employed can still be quite lonely when you lack someone you can relate too and bounce ideas off. That doesn’t have to be the case though, if you’re considering contracting or improving your networking skills, get the ball rolling with a meaningful conversation either with me, or one of my colleagues, today.