Many of us will have written in job applications that we are good ‘working with people’. I know I have. So why is it that the decision to become self-employed often means, for so many of us, working alone? At least in the early days of our businesses.
When you’re in an office, there’s the stereotypical ‘water cooler’ conversations. The meetings. The team building sessions. The social aspects of working in an established company. A leadership structure.
But when you work for yourself, often there’s no-one to talk to – water cooler, or no water cooler. You’re lucky if your chosen business involves meetings with clients. If not, sure on your own. You are the team. You have to make your own social circle. And you have to be the leader, as well as the planner, salesman, marketeer and administrator. Among all of your other roles.
All of the people you had around you – all of the opportunities you had to be good at ‘working with people’ are gone.
So what do you do?
Don’t be alone
There’s your solution, right there. Starting off on your own is one thing, but staying alone is another.
Without people, you have nobody to ask when you’re stuck. Nobody to chat to about your weekend, or whether you’ve seen the latest movie. There’s nobody to guide you or hold you accountable. If you’re celebrating something, there’s no corporate hurrah, and equally there’s nobody to pick you up when you’re down.
You end up feeling very lonely; your motivation slowly departs; and your business starts to suffer. You might even get to the point where you want to give up, and go back to corporate life.
Find your people
I like to think that loneliness is just the echo of missing a person you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting quite yet.Beau Taplin, The Echo
The answer is actually fairly simple – you need to reactivate those ‘working with people’ skills and find them! And as we’ve said many a time on this blog, creating a team around yourself is crucial when you run a business.
There are lots of options out there to meet new people, build relationships and grow your networks:
- Co-working. There are lots of options out there for co-working for today’s entrepreneurs. Whether you’re looking for an actual private office in a shared space; a fixed desk somewhere; or even something more flexible like our own events – it’s a great way to meet, work with, and ask questions of like-minded people.
- Networking. Everyone has heard of this one, whether you run a business or not! But the key here is a) finding out which events the people you want to meet attend, and b) which types of events suit you as a person. Then be brave. Put yourself out there. Meet new people! We recently launched our own events too, called Get Connected!
- Online. There are myriad of groups, forums and online communities out there to support entrepreneurs. Some are enormous, national (or even international) and very established. Others are more niche, focussed on specific skills or subject-matter. Indeed, we have two groups of our own. Our Facebook group – Make Progress – is designed to support business owners with making progress against goals and objectives; and our LinkedIn group is a space specifically for our members so that they can seek support at any time they wish.
So if you’re just starting out in business, or you’re feeling a bit lost and alone, kick-start that ‘working with people’ skillset. Then get out there and find your people! And if we can be your ‘people’, get in touch! We’d love to know more about you and your business!