Entrepreneurs are not only people who set up businesses, they are leaders, pioneers, and visionaries. From the onset, they have to separate themselves from the pack, in order to make an impact with their innovative ideas, and solutions. Potentially an exciting process but that ends up being a very lonely one.
Solo entrepreneurs (those without partners or teams), have found themselves in lone brainstorming sessions, with sleepless nights, midnight coffee shots, grappling with anxious thoughts in hopes of a better day tomorrow. Entrepreneurs also live with the gnawing feeling that it might not all be worth it in the end; especially in those initial days, months, and years.
As if running a business has not been enough, a global pandemic hit. Entrepreneurs alongside large organizations adhered to pandemic protocols, and started working from home. Everyone faced long hours of working alone with no coworkers to chat, share ideas, grab a beer with after a long day of cracking Zeros and Ones.
Even though you enjoy spending time alone, thanks to the solitary work life, loneliness is taking its toll. It has been said that loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity. Therefore, it is important that you take time to connect with others in, and out of business.
Here are a few tactics that you can embrace to keep the loneliness at bay:
Join a Community Workspace
Community workspaces have been around for a while now, with Hackerspaces growing out of Berlin, Germany in the 1990s. It’s only until 2005 that the concept of coworking spaces came together as a professional concept.
Historically, financial crunches have made coworking spaces more popular like in 2008. Companies, consultants & freelancers sought an alternative and affordable way to manage their workspaces.
Setting up an office requires spending time, effort and money that an entrepreneur would rather do something else with. With coworking spaces you do not have to worry about all the expenses that come with setting up an office. Coworking spaces have tailor made packages that allow businesses to rent office spaces or desk spaces for as little as USD 100 per month.
Apart from saving on costs, time and energy, coworking spaces offer the opportunity of community. Shared workspaces offer a vibrant atmosphere where you can get work done, network, and socialise. Also, unlike working from a cafe, you have access to business related amenities such as reliable internet, photocopiers, printers, and meeting rooms.
There is a way that connecting with other coworkers helps you grow. On your own you might not be able to gauge if you are hitting your milestones. However, an accountability community would help you keep on track with your KPIs. Connecting with a coworking community builds relationships with other members who share ideas, give moral support, and can collaborate on projects.
At our Nairobi Garage coworking spaces, we are adhering to all Government pandemic guidelines, so it is safe to pop by and work. We have temperature checks on entry, registrations, contactless door access, sanitizing stations, and social distancing measures at all our locations.
Register with an Online Community
Globally, the data that we are producing, and consuming should reach 59 zettabytes in 2020. That’s a whole load of content to grasp when the last meme you sent measured just a mere KB.
Since we would be unable to consume all the content ever created, we are likely to find it easier to huddle into an online community. They are created around a shared interest, mind-set, and can be spread across multiple platforms. They give members satisfaction, and a sense of security.
Different types of online communities exist. People gather around news websites, blogs, and video platforms such as YouTube. There are also spaces where community members can communicate in delayed fashion like in newsgroups, and email. Chat and instant messaging platforms help relay content more immediately. Social media groups on Facebook are also other ways online communities are created.
Professional online professional communities can help with essential business information, and advice. It’s an opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, and receive feedback from your peers. Platforms like LinkedIn offer tools that help you to connect and plugin into a like minded career community, in your area of expertise.
Being connected to a like-minded community, helps you make better business, life and social connections. Joining a virtual office is also another way you can beat the loneliness that might come with social distancing & working from home alone.
You should also find social communities as they will give you an opportunity to connect with people outside of business. There are now many online classes for many activities that might be of interest to you from fitness, painting, and book clubs. For safe physical interactions there are walking, running and cycling groups that meet; but that require you wear your mask and social distance.
Participate for Webinars & Virtual Events
Networking for business is the most effective way to generate referrals, sales leads, and build to a successful business. Attending conferences, workshops, and networking events allows you to meet other professionals in your industry as well as boost your skills.
Pre-pandemic, Nairobi Garage and many other community workspaces such as Metta, had an array of events lined up for entrepreneurs. The events were mainly held in locations that gave attendees a chance to interact, and network with like-minded people. It’s an opportunity to learn from those who have gone before you or your peers who might be going through the same experience.
However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, physically attending conferences and networking events has become nearly impossible, and to some point unsafe. Therefore, organizations have opted to host their events virtually giving us to interact with people from across the globe.
One of our event series, After Office Hours, went virtual earlier in the year. Despite that pivot, it remains a relevant event for business owners, and professionals to learn from and engage with speakers who are exceptional in their areas of business. We’ll be winding down in the year with our last After Office Hours in 2020, Rina Hicks, and you can sign up here.
To plug into more virtual events sign up to platforms like Meetup or Eventbrite to find local events relevant to your industry or interest. If you don’t find what you are looking for, start your own! Perhaps other entrepreneurs are waiting to learn from your experience and expertise.
As we continue to find a balance between working from home, and office, remember to check into your overall health. Schedule a healthy sleep routine, follow a good healthy diet, hydrate, and exercise daily if you can. Even with all the necessary online presence, take a digital break to give your mind a break. In place of scrolling, read a book, magazine, or finally get that novel you’ve always wanted to do, done.
Even though, as an entrepreneur, you are the brainchild and heart of the business, remember to take breaks away from the business. If you can, take a vacation once every year, while creating time to spend with family and friends. Staying physically, mentally healthy helps you be more focused and productive to the benefit of your growing business.