Entrepreneurship leads to many great opportunities, but it can be an isolating career path. Unless you work in a co-working space, solo entrepreneurs might find yourself spending most of your hours alone in a home office.
If you don’t thrive in this environment, all hope is not lost. You can work at home as a solo entrepreneur and still have a thriving social life and connections with industry colleagues.
Follow this guide to ensure you don’t experience social atrophy as a stay-at-home worker.
Connect to your local community
The first place to look if you are feeling lonely from working at home is your local community. Get out and work in coffee shops, breweries, restaurants, and co-working spaces to build a little social interaction into your routine. Working away from the home office doesn’t always make sense, but doing so on a regular basis, perhaps once or twice per week, can do a lot to break your hermit style work days.
Outside of work hours, make an effort to connect with your local entrepreneurial community. Events like Denver Startup Week, organizations like Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, and meetup groups like 805 Startups have given me this outlet in the various cities I’ve lived over the course of my career. Even if your entrepreneurial journey is still part-time, you can find great connections, resources, and friends in local startup communities.
Attend an industry conference
If you are not getting enough of a social connection from local events, the next place to look is the industry conference circuit. I began my experience with conferences at FinCon, a financial blogging and media conference, and that led to many amazing friendships, business partnerships, and new clients (including Due!) I have attended every single FinCon, and I credit the event as a major reason I was able to quit my job and go full-time online, making way more money in the process.
I have attended TBEX, LendIt, ConExpo, and Podcast Movement.There will also be many new conferences in the future. These events have led to meeting amazing new people in every case, plus great business partnerships and new clients along the way.
Outsource or hire an assistant
Solo entrepreneurs can easily fall into the trap of Superman Syndrome, or the idea that you can and should do everything to run your business on your own, sometimes because you would do it better than anyone else and sometimes because your ego tells you that you can do it better than anyone else. In either case, break this mentality.
Outsourcing to a virtual assistant, or even an in-person assistant, can lead to great results for your business. In addition to freeing up your time for more productive pursuits, an assistant is someone to talk to and work with, which breaks you out of the solopreneur vacuum. Don’t just hire someone because you want the company. Hire if your business could benefit from it.
Work in multiple projects at once
Right now, I run my own blog with the help of an assistant, a freelance writing business, and I’m CEO and co-founder of a startup with three others. I’m a member of an amazing mastermind group, go meet someone for an occasional coffee through Shapr, and I’m leveling up my coding skills with online classes.
Doing multiple things, some of them with partners and collaborators, keeps me out of the mental space of staring at one type of task all day every day. If I only wrote blog posts and never spent time with other people and working on other projects, I would go nuts!
Avoid solopreneur isolation
As a solopreneur, it is easy to become isolated and live in a little bubble. It is healthy to escape from your little world to spend time with other people, whether that be family, friends, colleagues, or other members of your local industry community. Even employees and assistants offer some level of social interaction. Alexa, Siri, Google, and Cortana are great and all, but they don’t quite meet the social needs of most business owners.
Entrepreneurs are often outgoing extroverts, so getting holed up in a home office starting at a computer will not lead to the endless happiness you might have dreamed up when thinking about quitting your job. In reality, solo online work can be very lonely, particularly if you live alone and don’t have family or roommates around.
Getting involved with your local startup community, attending conferences, and partnering with other entrepreneurs is the best route to social life success if you are feeling isolated. But they are just scratching the surface. Getting involved in communities around hobbies, travel, and other passions can be a fun addition to your life, plus it offers some semblance of work-life balance compared to working all day every day.
If you own a business or work as a freelancer, get out there and get social!