For many entrepreneurs, the journey to running your own business can be fraught with loneliness. You may work alone and have few outside interactions other than through the Internet, or you may -- on the other end of the scale -- enjoy working in solitude.
When you are at the top of the organization, it may seem as if there is no one else to turn to. You may feel too vulnerable or cautious sharing your concerns and ideas with those with whom you work, or not feel comfortable asking others for advice.
Although the loneliness factor is a reality, there are ways to incorporate others who are interested in your success and can help you reach your goals.
1. Create an advisory board
Hand-select a small number of people who can serve as your advisory board. They can help brainstorm ideas or advise you on business matters, or simply lend an empathetic ear when needed. Show your appreciation and provide an incentive in the form of free or discounted products or services, or meals and entertainment.
2. Create a mastermind group
Gather friends, industry leaders, or other business owners to create a mastermind group. Take turns helping each other navigate the path. Take turns featuring one of your companies at each meeting, or open the floor to whomever has a concern. Commit to meet at least once a month over breakfast or lunch.
3. Join a lead-generating networking group.
There are a number of professional networking groups designed to build relationships with the goal of sharing your network with others to provide warm referrals. You will be able to forge friendships with other business owners and salespeople while at the same time generating business. You can generally find these groups online or in your local newspaper.
4. Hire out.
One reason entrepreneurs get stuck behind the computer is they are trying to do everything themselves. You should have two main areas of focus: generating business and running the business. Look for people to hire (either full or part time) or entrust independent contractors and consultants with tasks that can be outsourced. This will free you up to spend more time with business-generating activities like networking and meetings with potential clients.
5. Meet regularly with your in-house team.
Get out from behind your desk and hold regular meetings with your employees to find out more about their challenges, as well as their ideas on how to improve your business. Be a good listener. Encourage your in-house team and entrust them to take on tasks that will help them grow and learn.
6. Solicit volunteers.
There are many ways to find volunteers to assist in your business, they come in the form of stay-at-home-moms, retirees, interns, high school and college students, to name a few, plus your own family members. Some people simply want to keep busy, while others want to learn a new skill. Post an announcement online or at a local university, ask friends for recommendations, or use your social media network to advertise your need. Who knows, this person may eventually transition into a full-time employee.
There is no reason to be lonely at the top when there are so many ways to involve others, and very few people make it without a team behind them. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”