Running your own business provides you with freedom and independence. However, according to statistics from the House of Commons Library, 4.6 million or 96% of all businesses are micro-businesses – employing 0-9 people.
A high percentage of these will be individuals working alone from home.
Working alone from home can be strange, uncomfortable and isolating for some.
So I decided to pose the question 'How do you remove the isolation of working alone?' in three LinkedIn Groups that I am a member of:
Unsurprisingly the most common responses were
Collaboration (but I wonder if you had considered the increasingly important role of)
Social Media / Online
Exercise (and maybe even)
Combining a part-time job as potential isolation busters?
The responses are summarized below.
If you can find the right group for you, create your own.
"Going to networking events after 8 years of working on my own was a major source of support for me, I did start off in a rather strict group but eventually started my own groups 5 years ago and now I also run groups aimed at Mums in business. Attending some networking groups, which suit you, can be very supportive and can really help you to share problems you are facing, give you people to bounce ideas off and share resources and inspiration. Plus you might get some new business as well". - Debbie Gilbert
"I schedule a networking lunch at least 3 times a month with a local women only group called Good ol Gals. It has become a group of supportive encouraging friends and never ever feels like networking. So my suggestion is find a group of business owners where there is no pressure to perform and it only support and encouragement and go there regularly.". Monique Gallagher
"Take time out to network. The 'social' aspect will do you good, offer time out whilst establishing great contacts and you are still working!!! Breakfasts. lunches even night time network events are out there so choose a time to suit your schedule." - Vintage Rose Catering Ltd
Micro business can benefit hugely from collaboration, enabling them to go for bigger contracts and filling skills gaps in their business. Just ensure that you have done the ground work first: building rapport, trust, setting the boundaries and considering the legal and financial implications.
"I find I am at my most productive when I am working actively with people. So, I am increasingly bringing together related experts and working on projects with them" - Narmeen Narmeen
"I also collaborate with other consultants who offer complimentary services to mine. I am trying to deliver more of this type of service along with some online resources too." - Heather Stewart
"Undoubtedly collaborations and joint ventures with contacts who have shared values and similar business ethos where you have complimentary skills. Collaborations are the best way to develop and grow your business as you work to mutual benefit and have your own trusted and valued sounding board. In ten years of trading my most successful business projects have all been collaborations of sorts, many of which have resulted in ongoing projects and lasting friendships, which helps overcome the isolation :)" - Steve Preston
"I have a few Dads who I bounce ideas off of and that I find works very well. It also makes them feel good to have ideas asked about." - George Wallace
"I think you can also feel isolated if everything is down to you. I have the sense that more and more, it will be about collaboration, certainly for me." - Janice Taylor
3. Social Media/ Online
The joy of online communication is that you can reach anyone in the world at the touch of a button. It’s cost and time efficient too.
"Skype - this morning had 45 minute Skype with ex colleague in Singapore planning future project, laughed lots and planned lots too and didn't have to leave the sofa." - Fran O'Hara
"I have three children under the age of 4 so can't make any networking events at the moment, but do try to socialise online." - Jaelithe Leigh-Brown
"I think that social media plays a huge part in connecting and socializing. A recent example is that I spoke to an old friend literally the other day who had a family member looking for work; I have been able to coach and mentor this individual remotely putting them in touch with various people and organisations, including LinkedIn which they had never heard of. The satisfaction has been fabulous…….I haven’t felt isolated at all and more importantly neither have they!" - Trisha Proud
Running your own business can be stressful, getting the right amount of exercise can rev up your energy levels and even help you to feel better emotionally.
It also keeps you well, entrepreneurs can’t afford to be sick. Being around other people, when in an exercise class, can help you beat that isolated feeling, or how about trying a team sport.
"I walk my dog twice a day. It is a good reason to get out and here in England there are so many footpaths and fields to walk it a good excuse to leave the home office." - Yaritza Baez-West
"Of course you can walk with others too, I often use it as a way to chat to colleagues as opposed to having a coffee." - Heather Waring
"I go for Aqua Zumba, makes me laugh and feel better...shame it cant happen every day" - Beverley Waugh
5. Could Employment Be the Answer?
Increasingly in the future it seems that we will have patch-work earnings, a combination of employment, entrepreneurial pursuits and voluntary work.
This may be the perfect arrangement to beat isolation.
"I also have a part-time job ... about 10-12 hours per week so that gets me out of the house as well." - Sharon Weathers
Some have no problem with working alone, in fact it’s a welcome relief!
"Gosh, I long for solitude and quiet!! Like Denise I have a lot of interaction in my life with the kids, dog, clients, workshops, speaking engagements, social media, phone calls and networking (not to mention friends, family and the school run)." - Cassie Hicks
The key message – if you are an entrepreneur who works from home alone, get out of the house at least once a day, it will do you good.