better together: sailing away from your lonely island

image by Man vs Ink “Let’s Network Together” - click for info

One of the biggest challenges of working for yourself is that bootstrapping your business and getting started often means working alone to cut costs. And unfortunately, working as a team of one frequently leads to that feeling of being on a lonely island all by yourself with no support.

Of course you have family and friends, and that is great, but they don’t always understand what you’re going through. So what do you do when you need feedback or a little interaction during work hours? You hop on twitter or facebook of course, and get your fix before heading back to your cave.

But is that really what you need?

Don’t get me wrong, I love twitter as much as the next gal, but sometimes social media just doesn’t cut it. The reality is 140 characters or less is great, but nothing beats an in person connection.

If you’re running a business you need a support system. And not just a virtual one. So let’s start with making those initial connections.

Here are 4 ideas for sailing away from your lonely island and building a support system of meaningful (in person) connections…

1. Networking: Sure, you’re versed in the social media game, but connecting with people halfway around the world is going to present a challenge or two. So start in your own backyard. Joining a free service like Meetup is a great way to meet people in your area that have similar interests. There are so many organized events you are bound to find at least one or two that meet your needs (I found more than 1,000 options in my city).

2. Coworking: I know what you’re thinking – This sounds great in theory, but why would I pay to sit around an office with a bunch of people I’ve never met before to work on completely separate things? There are plenty of advantages to coworking, but at the top of the list for solorpreneurs is simply being around other people. And if you’re still unsure of the idea, try it on a smaller scale and invite a friend to work with you at a coffee shop for the day. Since I moved to Seattle, I’ve done this a few times and it is a huge motivator for me. It gets me out of the house AND gives me a little inspiration. A new place and a friendly face never hurt anyone, right?

3. Conferences + Events: One of the best places to reach out to like-minded business owners is at a conference or event. I’ve met so many wonderful people that way. And the connections you make at these types of things will last long after the conference is over. Remember: The people who are sitting next to you at these events are just as important as the ones up on stage. So make fast friends. You never know who you’re sitting next to.

4. Your turn: Share your own suggestions for combating that “lonely island syndrome” in the comments below.

Tags: , , , , , ,

7 Responses to “better together: sailing away from your lonely island”

  1. Bri Land
    December 12, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Hands down, the best thing I have done to combat the loneliness that comes with starting a small business has been to join a mastermind group. We are a group of ladies who each own and run our own small creative businesses. We meet monthly to talk about our goals, struggles, and of course successes! We then assess how we can each help each other using our own spheres of influence. We also have a Facebook group to post to to share ideas, inspiration, and suggestions.

    Having another group of people to bounce ideas off of besides my husband has been great. We have grown to be great friends and a support system for one another. Not sure where to look for your group? We all pretty much met on twitter! Great post. Thanks!

  2. Cowgirl Red
    December 12, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    I live on a ranch and am 30 miles from town. Does it ever get lonely out here sometimes. I’m just starting twitter. Thanks for the encouragement. Terah

  3. Shelly
    December 12, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    I was just writing a blog post about the problem of the wandering mind when working alone. I’ve yet to get a support group going in my area, but if I’m going to be happy, I need to interact with real people who can relate to my challenges and triumphs. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Kristen from Creative Stash
    December 12, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    So true! I’m a bonafide groupie, I joined a bunch of groups until I found the right “fit”. I have been in online groups, meetup.com groups where we we meet in person and artist groups. Getting out and connecting with people has proved to be so good for my soul, sanity and of course my business too. I don’t always click with everyone and every group but you just need to find one group or even one person that inspires you and changes things for you and it’s worth the effort of getting out of the house.

  5. Leona
    December 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    I have found that even just getting out of the house / studio is so important. I go and work in a coffee shop if I have paper or computer work that is portable.

    Last February I decided to rent a studio in a building with other artisans / artists / business people, so even when I am there working alone in my studio, there are people around. It has increased my focus because I am not in my living room (so many distractions) AND I have contact with real live people.

    Certainly meeting other artisans and belonging to a group is a great way to bounce ideas, learn new things and talk to actual live beings.

    have some fun with it too, you never know what opportunities will come up

  6. Kell (@blackcurrantpix)
    December 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    I went from working full time, to studying full time for a year to being at home alone for another year… the isolation was starting to drive me mad.

    Twitter has been great for my little business & for making new friends. I try to work a bit of social interaction into my errands. If I have to drive across town to the lab I try to squeeze in a coffee with a friend in the area or go to a shop I enjoy.

    About 2mths ago I took on a Saturday job in my field. It helps with the bills and gives me one little day of social interaction and different tasks. It’s just the right mix for now. :)

  7. Jessica Newell →
    December 12, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Starting an online biz just outside of NYC can seem like climbing Mt Everest whenever I begin to look at all of the BIG names carrying Manhattan addresses on their About Me pages.

    It’s more than a bit intimidating for a solo biz owner just starting out. But I’ve been around this environment for the majority of my life so I’ve taken what I’ve learned about networking and applying it BIG time both online and in the real world.

    Actually Twitter has allowed me to connect with two artists whom I’ve gotten to know quite well over the last few months by attending their gallery showings. And after learning about the Crave Company from a blogger and coach I’ve been regularly attending the #CRAVEchatNYC as much as possible.

    It great taking the massive online stream of people and the complexity of NYC down to a level I can manage. Maintaining great professional relationships one-on-one beats it all and face-to-face + social media is a dream come true!

    It’s not either/or but both/and. I think you said that Tara?