My first taste of entrepreneurship was in November 2016, just after I had graduated from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and became a Holistic Nutritionist. I was ready to heal the world and was bracing myself for the big rush of new clientele, now that I had my website up and services listed (big things, people!)
... and then much to my surprise – crickets.
Nobody was knocking on my door. I was alone (okay fine, my cat was present), working in ear-piercing silence at a desk steps away from my bed (which was very enticing for mid-day naps) in good 'ol Mom's house. At the same time, I was trying to reason myself as to why I left my somewhat stable career in advertising as most new 'preneurs tend to do.
This is when it first occurred to me that the glitz and glamour of entrepreneurship wasn't as dreamy as it was made up to be. Entrepreneurship was very lonely.
My short stint being a "full-on" entrepreneur ended in January 2017 when I became the Community Manager at Joyous Health (and yes, there were happy tears on the day I found out I got the job – not because I loathed the entrepreneur life, but because I had just landed my dream job!). Now I classify myself as a "partial entrepreneur" working as a Holistic Nutritionist (specializing in Emotional & Disordered Eating) and running monthly Kombucha Workshops on the side. Can you tell I like keeping busy? ;)
But even as a "partial entrepreneur" I still find myself faced with feelings of loneliness after working on my own all day. It's easy to fall into a negative headspace when you're in your own head for hours on end, especially if you're going through a not-so-busy period or not seeing the fruits of your labour right away.
For many, the fear, worry and doubt that comes from this loneliness can be enough to stop them pursuing their dreams altogether. But what I've learned over time is that getting caught up in the loneliness and doubting yourself doesn't serve you. Instead, it sets you back and makes you lose sight of why you started in the first place.
That's why I've compiled a list of tips and strategies you can use to help you overcome the loneliness and doubt that entrepreneurship can bring at times so you can continue chipping away and making the magic happen in your business!
How To Overcome The Loneliness Of Entrepreneurship
1. Choose a few days a week to work in a coffee shop
At first, being able to work from home in your sweats might seem luxurious, but the glam wears off quick when you realize that equates to zero social interaction and feeling like a sack of potatoes by the end of the day. When you're starting out and not quite ready to invest in a membership at a coworking space, working at various coffee shops around your town or city can be a great way to stay inspired and focused on your work. Even though you might not talk to anyone other than the barista while placing your order, you'll likely feel more motivated and inspired to be surrounded by people who are also working away.
I was so inspired when I learned that Joy actually wrote most of her first book, Joyous Health, in coffee shops around Toronto; proof that serious magic-making can happen in the cozy corners of indie-music-playing coffee shops!
2. Invest in a membership at a coworking space
Coworking spaces are popping up all around Toronto (and with a quick Google search, you might find they are around where you live too!) The whole premise behind coworking spaces is to provide entrepreneurs with an office space (without shelling out the moula for their own office space) while giving them the opportunity to collaborate and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs.You might even stumble across your new business partner along the way!
There's also a huge community element at these coworking spaces which makes it a more exciting and inviting place to be. I also think there's something to be said about having to be somewhere by a specific time. Treating your coworking space as your office gives you that sense of purpose which can help keep you motivated, accountable and inspired.
3. Join a like-minded community of entrepreneurs
One of the major benefits of signing up for the Joyous Health Business program is that you will receive exclusive access to a private Facebook group alongside current or aspiring wellness entrepreneurs. This is where JHB students connect with each other, where we host the weekly Facebook lives, answer questions from our students and alumni and share inspiring articles. Now call me biased, but I must to say, this private community is like no other! It is pure magic.
Being a part of this community takes the isolation out of entrepreneurship because you are virtually surrounded by like-minded inspiring entrepreneurs who are there to support you.
I remember when I was first getting my website set up and trying to figure out how to purchase a domain, set up hosting and all of those other "fun" techie things that come along with starting an online business and I felt so overwhelmed and confused. I always wished I could just call or message someone who could help me.
And that's what makes this community so special! You can literally message your JHB colleagues or the Joyous Team at any time and have your questions answered. Our students have also taken advantage of gathering feedback on their branding or an idea for an upcoming program or workshop. A few of our local students have even come together to collaborate on initiatives of their own.
This on its own is such a valuable benefit of partaking in the program (on top of the awesome video modules and content you'll receive each week) and will surely make you feel like you aren't alone in your dream-chasing journey!
[Shameless plug: if you sign-up before March 5th, 2018, you can get access to early-bird savings of $39! Whoop whoop! Details over here]
4. Schedule social interaction into your day
Depending on whether you're working from home or in a coffee shop, the most social interaction you might get in a day may be the order you placed with the barista. Otherwise, you might find you've gone all day without talking to anyone which can lead to feelings of loneliness and even disrupt your creative process.
My love bug, Randy, knows if I haven't had enough social interaction in the day because I'll be bouncing off the walls and be talking a mile a minute the moment he walks in the door, haha. This is why being a part of an online community or an in-person community can be so helpful.
On top of that, it can be helpful to actually schedule social interaction into your day. For example, you might want to consider finding another entrepreneur who you can be accountability partners with. Maybe that means hopping on a call via phone or Skype once a week to talk about your goals and how you plan on achieving them.
It might even be helpful for you to schedule a day to work out of a coffee shop with a friend/fellow 'preneur so you can bounce ideas off of each other. I will caution that this probably isn't the most productive for chatty Cathy's, as you will likely not get any work done :) But for others, it can be very beneficial!
5. Get social – online!
Don't ever underestimate the power that social interactions via social media can hold. While I wouldn't recommend getting too caught up in them, setting aside some time to engage with like-minded people (or potential) clients through your social media networks can help to combat loneliness. Better yet, you can kill two birds with one stone by getting your dose of social interaction and cultivating community within your social networks at the same time (another key theme we touch upon in the Joyous Health Business program!)
I've actually met a lot of great friends in the Toronto wellness scene simply by interacting with them on social media. But again, be weary about crawling too deep down the rabbit hole. Set a time limit once or twice during your work day to get online and engage with others!
So while entrepreneurship can come with fleeting moments of loneliness, don't let it get the best of you and remember that they're temporary. Choose one or a few of these strategies to implement to stay connected with others so you can keep on working towards the work you were put on this planet to do!
What do you find to be challenging about being an entrepreneur that no one really talks about? What do you find rewarding?