We are the change

Combating loneliness as a small business owner

Running a small business can be extremely isolating. Loneliness can be both detrimental to your business and your long-term health; so, rather than see your wellbeing and business suffer, it’s time to look at some solutions.

No man (or woman) is an island.

One of the first things most people forgo when they’re busy and under pressure is their social life. Don’t let this happen. Time optimisation is alchemical and can feel like you’re literally ‘stretching time’. It is a case of first identifying the unproductive ways in which you spend your time, then freeing it up.

Write lists prioritizing everything you need to do. It will help you to keep focused and aware of your work/leisure balance, ensuring that your work does not leak into the time you should be spending enjoying the company of friends and family.

Suggestion: In her best-selling book, The Seed Handbook, Lynne Franks recommends lighting a candle at the start of your working day and snuffing it out at the end. This ritual will help you focus while you work and help you ‘switch off’ and enjoy your leisure time.

Contrary to what you might think, getting the most out of every hour means decreasing your stress levels, not adding to them. If you’re effectively organizing your time, your day should feel virtually stress-free

Attend as many workshops and networking events as you can.

Attending business workshops and networking events is a great way to alleviate feelings of isolation. Meeting likeminded people can be very reassuring, as well being an invaluable means of extending your contact-network and learning from other people’s experiences.

Make a few changes for big rewards.

Once you’ve made lots of lists and carved out a workable and balanced timetable for yourself, the occasional pang of loneliness might still strike, but there are small measures you can take to make it all a lot easier. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make a phone call to a friend. If you’re a night owl, Skype friends who live in another time zone. You might be making and taking lots of business calls, but a familiar voice can lift even the darkest of moods.
  • Extend your break and go for a walk. Even better, take your laptop to a café. Being around people, even if you’re not engaging with them can be reassuring.
  • As well as attending business networking events, join business networks online.
  • Twitter! This can be an excellent way to feel connected as well as raise the profile of your business. For more details visit www.twitter.com.
  • Try to make at least some of your leisure time social. Rather than going to the gym again or watching Coronation Street, arrange to meet a neglected friend for coffee.
  • Consider consulting a mentor. They can help you regain perspective, helping you to make more effective changes to the way you use your time.
  • Exercising can be social. Remember that when we were children we called exercise ‘play’. Try team sports, get an exercise ‘buddy’, attend a fitness class or run a 5 k. By improving your physical fitness, you are also improving your capacity for decision-making.

Developing just a few systems and techniques that work for you will give you the perspective and clarity you need to make difficult decisions and optimize efficiency in your work.

Loneliness can seriously affect your level of productivity so it’s not something you can afford to ignore. Start making those changes for a happier and more fulfilled you and a more lucrative business.


About the author: Alex Vargas is a regular writer for women-unlimited.

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  1. Nicolette Beard says

    I agree Alex. This is my third start up and I am doing all the things you suggested. When I was first in business, I figured out too late (months before I closed the doors), that networking wasn’t a dirty word.

    I’m now active in the Houston AMA and all the social media networks. What a difference 20 years makes!

  2. Julie Hall - Editor says

    Hi Nicolette! I know exactly what you mean – I hated networking for the first 5 years I was in business and now it is my lifeline! Connecting with other people who are familiar with the challenges you face as a small business owner is critical during the early years.

  3. Alex Vargas says

    Nicolette, I’m glad you concur! If you have any other ideas that might help other business-owners feel less isolated, your suggestions are welcome 🙂

  4. Jill says

    Totally agree, and I have found that young, successful women who are not in relationships can feel especially isolated. I recently set up a social group for single professional women in London and we meet up somewhere for drinks once a week. Most of my other friends are coupled up and don’t share my interests anymore so it’s refreshing to spend time with women who share my lifestyle. Please feel free to check it out and to join – the more the merrier!


  5. Lisa Temperley says

    thank you for a great article , in my experience this subject is often only acknowledged by my female clients and rarely by my male clients. Even so, both would agree that they feel almost ashamed to admit it, confessing to a flaw or weakness. Being your own boss causes isolation in many areas , no one congratulates you when you’ve achieved something, or encourages you when things are going badly and who do you ask when you need help , advice or just to talk something through ? Something to try if you have a premises is to invite people to you. Let networking groups use the premises before you open for breakfast meetings, consider open days for different groups within the community eg school leavers,mums returning to work etc.. What about inviting local business people around you, they probably feel like you and would love a relaxed glass of wine and chat. Its a great way to get involved and maximise the use of an asset you already have to best effect. and of course to meet people within your commmnuity.