To me, the word "solo" conjures up images of a hang glider enjoying the solitude and beauty of a solo flight; or a gifted musician on stage performing solo before appreciative fans. Both are strong, independent people with a passion for living in the moment and a drive to live their greatest dream - in spite of their deepest fears. If you think about it, doesn't that describe the spirit of an entrepreneur as well?
Yet, for many solopreneurs the word "solo" translates to loneliness, living with the burden of decision-making, uncertainty, and often sleepless nights. Well, I believe that anyone is capable of changing a negative scenario into a brighter picture. It takes a little self-prodding to get outside of your current comfort zone so make sure to ask for support and maybe some accountability from someone. That may be a spouse, friend, peer, or a coach — there are a lot of resources out there. Here are some ideas that will help!
1. Join networking and social groups. A weekly meeting offers camaraderie, resources, and a boost to your professionalism.
2. Spend some time working outside of your home: a local coffeehouse, library, park, or at the home of another solopreneur.
3. Get help with the kids: Don't try to be the full time childcare provider AND run a full time business. You are setting yourself up to fail. Either accept that your business is a part time operation (for now) or arrange for child care for some part of the week. You AND your children will be much happier.
4. Create an Advisory Board: It doesn't matter that your business is small, you will still benefit from the well-rounded expertise of an Advisory Board. Choose 3-7 people who are experts in marketing, sales, product development, etc. and consult with them as a group on a quarterly basis.
5. Build a social network: While it's almost too easy to get lost on Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and other such sites, they are valuable tools in building your network and creating friendships. Occasionally touching base in the virtual world helps ward off that lonely feeling AND will help you to grow your business.
6. Create balance! If you're taking care of the kids by day and working by night, there's no time for relationships and socialization. Get out one night (or day) a week. Call a friend or have a date night with your significant other. Make sure to create conversations around things other than business and kids. When you talk about things like hobbies, vacations, and other interests, it will bring a sense of "togetherness" and ward off that feeling of isolation.
7. Always dress for work: Working in your PJ's may seem novel at first, but can escalate those feelings of "aloneness."
8. Take regular breaks and GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! I take myself for a power-walk or a nice lunch (even a picnic) at least 3 times a week. You'll be amazed by the energizing effect of this outing.
9. Find other solopreneurs and brainstorm with them. I have several friends who also own their own business and our conversations raise our energy levels and renew the passion.
10. Get Coached: Of course, I always recommend coaching as well. When I started my first business I hired a business coach. It not only took some of the pressure off, it confirmed my choices, affirmed my purpose, and eventually led to an amazing career!
Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.