Through interviewing many different entrepreneurs, I’ve discovered that the most common element of a 9-toi-5 job that people miss most after they quit (aside from the regular paycheck) is the comradery of working with other people. When you quit your job to work for yourself, it can be a lonely transition.
First of all, most people won’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, so this can make you feel mentally isolated—like you’re the black sheep in a monotonous herd of khaki-pant-wearing, working-for-the-man, climbing-the-corporate-ladder sheep. You’re the sheep that jumped the fence and is b-lining for freedom and wondering why the others aren’t following. And they’re the sheep looking at you questioning why you’ve gone ponkers and skipped out when this caged pasture feels so comfortable, telling you “You’re so brave to go out there on your own…are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
Second, if you quit your job and start working from home or in an individual office, this can make you feel physically isolated. You have no co-workers or business partners to bounce ideas off of, take a break with, or basically talk to throughout the day. At first, this might seem ideal because you can get a lot of work done when no one is bothering you, but it will start to wear on you over time.
A big mistake that new small business owners make is isolating themselves (intentionally or unintentionally) from other like-minded people. Being isolated has ability to negatively impact your business. When you spend all your time alone…
- You’re not as creative
- You’re not as happy or fulfilled
- You’re not as energized
Humans are social creatures and we need interaction. But when I say interaction, I don’t mean that we need distraction or activities that prevent us from completing our work. I mean that we need to feel connection and comradery with other like-minded people and groups.
If you’re not feeling that connection right now, here are a few things you can do…
1. Move your office to a co-working environment. If you’re currently in a single office or working at home, it can be really beneficial to move to a co-working office where there are other like-minded people around. If you enjoy working alone, find a place where you can have an individual office (with a door), but when you want to be around other people, there are common areas (and maybe even ping pong tables!).
2. Join a networking group or Meetup group. As I talked about in 3 Ways to Deal with People Who Don’t Get It, it’s really important to find your tribe. If your friends and family don’t seem to understand your desire to run your own business, find people who do by joining a group. There are tons of groups within your city, so it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you.
3. Choose your own “co-workers”. The good part about being self-employed is that you get to choose your co-workers. You aren’t stuck in an office with people who you don’t get along with or merely “tolerate” for 8 hours a day. If you can’t find a group of like-minded people that you want to join, consider creating your own group. Pull together all of the people you know who are working on their own businesses and start a mastermind group or a once-a-week coffee meeting. I recommend setting up a regular interaction (once a week, once month, etc) with these people whether it’s in person or via phone just so you’re getting consistent interaction with them.
In the end, there are plenty of ways to create connection with others, so find what works for you. You (and your business) will greatly benefit from making this a top priority, so make sure it’s not sitting on the backburner waiting for your attention. That would be a big mistake!