If you don't already know this, let me fill you in on a little secret. Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Very lonely.
Solopreneurs feel the pangs of loneliness more than most. Yes, you get to create your own hours, work from anywhere you like and make a living from your passion. But not everyone else in your life has that same luxury. That means even though you have your own hours and can work from anywhere, you’re often doing it alone.
Co-working spaces have provided an excellent outlet for many of us. You get leave your house to work around other like-minded people, which creates a nice separation between your home life and your business life, but co-working spaces aren’t the best fit for everyone. Many cities still don’t have co-working location options and if they do, the commute time might not make the trip worth it. Not to mention, if you’re in the infant stages of your business, co-working rent might be unaffordable just yet.
So what can you do? Sure, there’s the coffee shop option, but you miss out on working with like-minded people. There’s no one there that you can really talk to and certainly no one that you will be bouncing ideas off of or getting feedback from.
Thankfully, there are some excellent solutions everyone can afford.
A few months ago, I was experiencing the pangs of entrepreneurial loneliness. I realized I was putting off some “grunt work.” These are things that have to get done, but aren’t of impending importance, that only I can do but don’t particularly enjoy. These items were building up to a critical point.
So, I reached out to a Facebook group of entrepreneurs and did a little experiment. I created a weekly virtual co-working meetup with GoogleHangout and Zoom. The structure of the virtual co-working is simple.
1. Do the grunt work and be accountable.
Our main focus was to get the annoying things that we procrastinate on done as quickly and efficiently as possible. When we all met in the virtual meetup, we felt much more accountable to get sh-, I mean, stuff done.
2. Set your intention.
Once we all arrived and greeted each other in the virtual room, we went around and told everyone what we’re working on and what we would accomplish during the work time. Then, one person sets a timer for the work time. We did Pomodoros - 20 minutes of work followed by a 10 minute chat break. You can set the time to whatever you like. During the timed work, everyone mutes their microphones and gets crackin’.
When the timer goes off, you set the timer for the mini-break. During the break everyone shares how things went during the last workflow, what they got done, if they hit any challenges, and ask questions for support if needed. Or you could just gab about the last Game of Thrones episode. Use the break however you like. Just time it.
When the break is over, you set the timer for another work flow and repeat the process for as long as you like. Our virtual co-working times typical ran an hour to 90 minutes tops. That’s usually enough time to take a significant chunk out of your grunt work.
Entrepreneurs face significant struggles mentally and emotionally. Self doubt, imposter syndrome and fear of failure are all dark demons doing gymnastics in your mind. It can be difficult to be vulnerable with friends and colleagues because you feel the need to have a brave face. For many entrepreneurs, they are their brand and showing any signs of doubt can actually hurt business.
If you’re on a budget, turning to a therapist or coach might not be a financial option. Thankfully, there are resources like Betterhelp and the 7 Cups of Tea app. BetterHelp offers low-cost solutions by offering virtual therapy with licensed professionals. 7 Cups of Tea is an app where you can talk with certified “active listeners” on their platform. These a great resources for when you need someone talk to and vent your challenges and get help.
Of course, don’t forget the low-tech way of overcoming loneliness. Reach out to your friends and colleagues. Go on a hike together. Have an IRL (in real life) work session at a local coffee shop. You can use the same timed method mentioned above from the virtual co-working. It’s the same idea, just over coffee or drinks.
Whenever you feel lonely, just know that you’re not alone. We all go through the psychological warfare of building a business. You won’t be a casualty if you use these tips.