Sole trading and self-employment can be a very lonely place. Even if your significant other works at home with you, you can find yourself missing those coffee break moments with colleagues and yearning for a birthday doughnut day. The only mood is yours, the only other energy in your work environment comes from the radio or pets wandering in and out, so how do you combat loneliness as a sole trader?
Get out and network!
Having spoken to a few people about avoiding loneliness as a sole trader, the thing that comes out on top is always networking. Networking is primarily about positioning your business and products or services within your marketplace and growing your customer/client base, but it is also a highly effective tactic for finding a community of good people that you can call on for interaction, advice, support and a bit of a laugh.
TIP: Use LinkedIn as an extension of your real-life networking to enhance your position within the group and build on the relationships that began in a meeting.
Use your strategic partners
Identify who your strategic partners are. They could be your biggest referrer, a business that provides goods or services that are complimentary to yours, for example, website developers and copywriters, window fitters and refurbishment companies, or they could be your clients or landlord.
TIP: Do you invite these people networking with you? If you help them grow their business by introducing them to new connections it will only serve to strengthen your relationship.
Tap into your supply chain
Do you have a good relationship with your supply chain? Quite often providers such as IT support, telecoms, maintenance teams and equipment suppliers are frequently spoken to and met with, but do you network with them in as much as finding out what their ideal client looks like, what they do outside of work and what they hope for the future of their business? Doing this fosters conversation, develops relationships and grows your circle of connections.
Do you have a professional you can talk to?
I’m referring of course to a life coach or business mentor who is trained to help you work through your feelings. You may feel a little awkward about approaching someone with your feelings of loneliness, but as professionals they exist for precisely that purpose.
As you know, I offer a free hour of business mentoring, and many other professionals offer the same. It’s important to know like and trust the person you’ll be talking to. Asking your network or asking social media is great way to find someone with a good reputation.
Visit a coworking hub
Almost every town has one! Most coworking offices offer a day-by-day desk hire and a range of membership options. This is where you can recreate those moments by the watercooler. If you don’t want to commit to a membership, you can always try a local pub or café with free Wi-Fi connection, and even suggest meetings take place there, just to fuel the small talk that’s been missing.
As I wrote this article, it became abundantly clear to me that beating loneliness as a sole trader comes down to building and nurturing relationships. I encourage you to make contact with the people in your life, in whatever capacity they are there, and remember when you do you’re likely to be alleviating a little loneliness in their day too.