by Diana Adams | Featured Contributor
I often write about all the positive aspects of being an entrepreneur, but there are a few downsides too. Like with everything, you’ve got to take the good with the bad. One of those downsides is the occasional entrepreneurial loneliness. That lonely feeling can be especially palpable if you don’t have a business partner.
I agree with the Business Insider article titled The Most Difficult Hurdle to Overcome in a Startup’s First Year May be Psychological. As a new entrepreneur, you’re on a roller coaster ride for a while. You have tons of ideas swimming in your head. It’s hard not to have someone right there to share the ups and downs with. It’s hard to be stuck in a quiet house all day with no coworkers.
One of my best friends described me as being a hardcore extrovert today. I’ve been an entrepreneur for over a decade, and I remember when I hit the wall of extreme loneliness. It was in 2013. I felt like I was just a machine pumping out productivity. I didn’t stop to enjoy the highs or to evaluate the lows. I just worked and then worked some more. All the days ran into the next days.
I was extremely lonely. At that same time, people were constantly asking me how the business was growing so fast. I eventually lost my passion and sold that business. Now I’m careful to address the loneliness when it creeps in.
If you are an extrovert too, you probably feel it even more than your introverted entrepreneurial friends. There are several things you can do to cope with the loneliness.
1. Get a furry friend to keep you company while you work.
Many of my entrepreneur friends work with their pets at their sides. Just look on Facebook and you’ll see pictures of cats lying across keyboards, attempting to lure their owner’s attention away from work. That lonely feeling will wash away when you have a furry friend by your side each day.
2. Get out of the house and work remotely at least two days each week.
I’m happy that I don’t work in my house every day. If you work in your house, it’s important to get out and see the world each week.
Work remotely from a coffee shop, an outdoor cafe or anywhere you can still be productive while experiencing the sights and sounds of the world. You might find How to Work Effectively from a Coffee Shop helpful.
3. Tweet more. Connecting with others through short tweets is quick, and it can be an effective filler during those moments of intense silence.
For me, Twitter has been one of the best tools for coping with entrepreneurial loneliness. Not only have I built meaningful relationships there, social media engagement is a loneliness lifesaver.
4. Don’t compare yourself to other entrepreneurs (especially on social media).
Successful entrepreneurs know the importance of being positive. They are optimistic by nature. You’ll rarely see successful entrepreneurs complaining about feeling lonely on social media (even though they might feel it).
Comparing your loneliness to their positive posts isn’t comparing apples to apples. Don’t start to question yourself and wonder what’s wrong with you. That can breed feelings of self-doubt. Everyone is fighting their own battle. You don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. Swim in your own lane.
5. Create an after work social life.
It’s easy to spend all your time working when you’re an entrepreneur. Why would you go out to dinner with your friends when you can stay at home and answer all your emails? Therein lies the problem.
Nobody except you is going to take responsibility for making sure you stay connected to real people in the real world. Make plans with friends. Go out to dinner. Go hiking on Saturdays. Go to the gym. Go volunteer a few hours a week. Go do whatever makes you happy.
You’ll be surprised how those things melt away the loneliness. As a bonus, the time away from the keyboard will rejuvenate you. It might even spark some creativity and new ideas.
6. Connect with other entrepreneurs who are feeling the same way (but there’s a disclaimer).
Although connecting with other entrepreneurs who appreciate how you’re feeling can be very helpful, there is also a side I want to warn you about.
The last thing you want to do is get into a situation where you accidentally connect with someone who is negative, and that person starts sucking all your positive energy. I call those people energy vampires.
Both entrepreneurs should be supportive and sensitive about each other’s goals. I am very selective about who I choose as my confidants for this reason. I simply can’t afford to let anyone bring me down when I’m chasing big goals.
7. Give yourself a check-up-from-the-neck-up. Remember all the reasons to be grateful that you get to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams.
The silence is only awkward if you let it. When I think about how fortunate I am to have a thriving business that provides a very nice lifestyle, the loneliness melts away. There are so many people in the world who only dream of being an entrepreneur. We get to live it.
Like with everything, you’ve got to take the good with the bad. I think an occasional bought of entrepreneurial loneliness is a small price to pay. Thank you for reading my article!
Diana Adams is the founder and CEO of Adams Consulting Group, Inc. in Atlanta. Established in 2001, her company is now an esteemed member of the Apple Consultants Network and is rated one of the top independent Apple consulting firms in the southeast.
She’s written 4,000+ blog posts about technology, social media and geeky innovations. She loves new technology, Java Chips with extra drizzle, and any form of creativity. She’s also one of the biggest Star Wars fans in the world and is a frequent user of the force.
Diana graduated from USC, and she spends most of her time on the east coast. She is a social media addict, and you can find her on Twitter (@adamsconsulting), Instagram, G+ or Facebook almost anytime of the day or night. Send her a tweet and say hello!