The Tops 5 Ways To Deal With Isolation As An Entrepreneur - My Growth Pod
business owner isolation

Feeling isolated is one of the most difficult things for new business owners and entrepreneurs to come to terms with. There is a period of adjustment going from an employee to a business owner and it is vital to your sanity that you use all the tools at your disposal to overcome these feelings of isolation.

Isolation in itself can be quite debilitating. When you feel alone you feel like everything is just plain hard! You have no one to troubleshoot with and the stress of starting up can really get to you. 

If you have just recently started a business you are likely to have come from a background where you were in a company or in a team where you have people to talk to on a daily basis. It is likely that you are feeling their absence and you’re probably starting to feel a little bit isolated, a little bit lonely.

Adding to this, with the current climate with COVID it makes sense that we’re all feeling a little bit more isolated after months of lockdown. The truth is, feeling isolated can really chip away at your resilience. You’ll work more slowly and it will impede your progress if you cannot learn to deal with it.

Good news! There is a way forward and all you need to do is follow our top 5 tips on managing isolation.

Tip number one: Go out and to get a mentor.

Now there are two reasons why this is important. Firstly, you need a mentor or a consultant or another business owner, or somebody like that, can help you with your business planning. This is somebody that you will talk to at least once a month. This is someone who is going to help keep you on track and get you moving forward. This is how most people use mentorship. And it’s very important once you are out of that normal working environment and you’re doing things on your own. If you have some sort of a mentor or some sort of a consultant who’s keeping you on track, then you’re going to feel like you have someone to hold you accountable and that will help you reach your deadlines and goals.

Secondly, and this is even more important, is to find someone that you can pick up the phone to at any time. What I mean here is that you can say things like, “Hey, something has just gone wrong, can we chat?” Or “I’m just facing a problem. I don’t know how to fix it. What do you think?” That is absolutely vital to your survival as a business owner. You need to have a sounding board. So many of our clients use us on that basis where they say, “Hey, have you got a free five minutes, I just want to chat through something”, Or “I’m just literally having a really tough day and everything is going wrong, can I just have five minutes with you? Of course they can.

Business owner mentor

We know how important it is to feel like you’re not alone. And just having that other person there is going to make a huge difference to you.

You are a human being. You are designed to be in groups. You are designed to communicate and to talk with other people. And so if you cut yourself off from that you’re going to make your life very difficult. Your mental strength will be compromised as will your ability to think under stress. Obviously, that is not what you want. You want to keep yourself strong and you want to keep yourself moving forward. So, find yourself someone that you can talk to that you can use as a sounding board. Someone you can just have a quick two, three minute conversation with. And that will be enough to give you the energy to keep moving forward. So that’s tip number one, go out there and get yourself a mentor.

business owner outsource

Tip number two: Outsources the pieces of work that you do not like doing or you are not an expert in.

This this where most people say things like “I can’t afford to outsource this”. But here’s the thing, if you are trying to struggle through something that you are not trained to do, it’s going to take you four or five times longer to do. Assuming you eventually figure it out. You’re going to get confused or stuck and will end up spending time watching YouTube videos trying to figure it out. Essentially. you’re making things harder and it’s going to slow you down.

It’s going to make you tired. It’s going to make you crazy and that puts you on the backfoot. You won’t have the energy and the vitality that you once had.

Let’s be honest, realistically, you just want to concentrate on what you’re passionate about; your project, your product or your service. You’ll want to get on with that. However, if you find yourself stuck in the background, doing things like finances, operations, administration, logistics, or whatever the case may be, it’s going to drive you mad. That really adds to that feeling of isolation because you’ve got so much to do and you can’t really handle all of the stuff that’s coming in. Our advice is to outsource it.

It’s going to make you tired. It’s going to make you crazy and that puts you on the backfoot. You won’t have the energy and the vitality that you once had.

Let’s be honest, realistically, you just want to concentrate on what you’re passionate about; your project, your product or your service. You’ll want to get on with that. However, if you find yourself stuck in the background, doing things like finances, operations, administration, logistics, or whatever the case may be, it’s going to drive you mad. That really adds to that feeling of isolation because you’ve got so much to do and you can’t really handle all of the stuff that’s coming in. Our advice is to outsource it.

Even if you insist on doing this yourself, the very least that you can do find somebody who is an expert in that area whom you can chat with. Therefore, you are learning as you go along and you feel that you have access to the expertise when you need it. We know it’s a big decision at the beginning. But if you can add resources, or at least have somebody there to answer your questions, you will feel a lot less stressed and alone. Importantly, you will also have more time to get on with the things that you are really good at and that is far more satisfying.

Tip number three: Go out and to join a support group.

This is different to the mentor tip. A mentor is a one to one conversation and it tends to be a little bit more formal. What I’m talking about here is actually meeting other people who are business owners. One of the most common complaints from people starting a business is that they feel that they are on their own. Now this was the case long before Covid-19 hit. Pre-Covid, feeling alone was still the number one complaint from business owners. That they felt isolated. 

Business owner support

Thing is, most of the time they were isolating themselves. Now I appreciate that it is currently a little bit more difficult. We’re all working from home and face to face networking is not currently permitted. But you can still get out there. There are still virtual events on. Look up your local Chamber of Commerce, Meetup, Facebook groups and local business organisations, local government organisation and so on. They will all have support for people who are starting a business. That is the first place to go to start to talk to other business owners.

If you are struggling on this, then why not join our community. It’s free and not only do you get out help, but the help of all the other business owners that are there too. CLICK HERE TO JOIN

Next, once you’re talking to those other business owners, be honest with them. There’s a phenomenon that we’ve noticed. I’ve seen this countless times in networking. When you ask people how they’re getting on, they reply with “Oh, I’m great. I’m doing super and everything’s going really well”. However, that is not the truth. In reality, they’re really struggling. The thing is to remind yourself that you are still a human being. You might give yourself a title of Business Owner or Director or CEO or Founder or whatever you want. That doesn’t stop you from being a human being and human being have a basic need. That basic need is to talk with other people who understand. So if you can talk to other people who are business owners, who are not there to help you with your business problems, but are just there to go, “Oh my god, I feel the same way”. That is absolutely huge. If you can just circulate with those people and see other people who are in the same boat as you then that feeling of isolation will go away. You’ll feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

business owner planning

Tip number four: Plan your day meticulously.

Now, this is a big one for a business owner. It helps with a lot of things, not just the isolation. What we find is that when people don’t have deadlines and they don’t have meetings and stuff like that, things tend to not get done. They are more easily distracted by doing things that are not critical to the success of the business. So to avoid this. It’s so important that you actually plan your day meticulously.

You have lots of balls in the air. You got to do your marketing, your business development, your customer services, your product development. Maybe you’ve got production or logistics. You certainly have finances etc. There’s a lot to do in your day. So it’s very important that you section out your day. It’s a bit like how you would do it if you were at school. You’d have a timetable. Your subjects like Science, English, Maths. Each day you’d have a timetable of what you need to do. Running your day in the same way is going to make your life a lot better.

Now, there’s a couple of reasons why we want you to be meticulous with this planning. Number one, it creates focus on what you need to do. Mini tip – I would give yourself a little bit less time than you feel that you need so that you are not rushing, but you’re moving at pace to keep up with that productivity. This means you are being busy in the right way.

Secondly you are not feeling lonely because you are getting on with stuff. You are focused and active and you don’t have time to start contemplating how you’re feeling all alone. You don’t have time to get distracted by things like by Facebook etc. How everyone else looks like their having a better time than you. How it’s really just hard for you and all these kinds of things. So be very meticulous and strict with yourself in the way you set up and manage your day.

Lastly on this tip, tick off those items in your day as you’ve completed them. That will give you a sense of action (which it is) and it will allow you to feel like you are achieving things with you day. The mental refreshment of that alone is fantastic.

Tip number five: Schedule your work time and your fun time.

Now, it might sound like it’s the same thing as tip number four, but it’s actually not. It’s completely different. When you were set up your business there were reasons why you did it. There were things that you wanted (material and mental), there was a problem you wanted to fix, there was some sort of a goal that you want to achieve. There was freedom and control that you wanted to attain.

business owner fun

As we get into our business life, we can often become consumed by it. We see this a lot. Particularly at the early stages. This is when the business owner is working all the time. They think that they have to work 16-18 hours a day. They think that they have to work on the weekends. They think they can’t watch their favourite TV show, or they can’t go out with their friends, or they can’t spend time with their family or even walk the dog or whatever the case may be. But the truth is, you really need to make room for all of this.

When you are at work, you are at work. And when you are not at work, you are literally not at work. This is so important because number one, if you are not at work, then you are not thinking about work. You need time to recuperate. I keep saying it but you are a human being. You are going to get tired, you’re going to run out of energy and you need to replenish your energy levels. The best way to do that is actually not to think about work when you are not at work.

Secondly make room in your life to have fun. To see your friends, to see your family and spend time with your partner. Engage with your family, engage with your hobbies. And when you are with your family or playing your sport, that you fully concentrate on that activity. This stops you thinking about work and again allows your brain to refresh itself. If you attempt to work 16-17 hours a day without meaningful breaks you will become exhausted. Also, if you are not seeing your friends, your family or not are not having fun, that only increases the amount of loneliness and isolation that you actually feel. Therefore, it’s so important that you separate your home and your work and your fun life. That you schedule time for all these things.

It’s so important that you go out and you live your life. Even if we’re in a lockdown, you can still chat with your mates. Personally, I’ve had more contact with more people since lockdown began because we’re all doing zoom calls together. And we all have our beers and our glasses of wine together. And it has really re-connected me with a lot more people. I feel a lot less alone because we have made such a big effort to stay in touch with people. And that is the same for you. Do not get stuck in this 16-18 hour workday. Take a break. You need daily breaks. You need to separate yourself from work. It will help you feel a lot less isolated which is good for you and also good for your business.

 

About The Author

Ray Lavery

Ray Lavery

Having started a business at 16 and now with over 25 years experience in senior leadership and director positions. Ray has also started and grown several businesses to multiple 6 and 7 figure heights. Through multiple government back business support programmes and through consultancy work Ray has helped over fifteen thousand businesses scale to the heights they wanted.