When you work on your own, it’s easy to feel alone. I certainly experienced this: I didn’t know where to turn when I had problems, or even who to talk to when I simply wanted a chat.
In my previous job, I was used to working with colleagues and I had a team. If ever I had doubts, I could ask them for advice. I regularly organised meetings to take stock or to work out the next steps. And most importantly, I had someone to share my coffee breaks and have lunch with!
When I started working on my own, I began to feel like a fish out of water. The path to entrepreneurship might be inspiring and fascinating, but it can also result in feeling lonely and misunderstood.
If this strikes a chord with you, read on to discover five strategies to remedy the situation.
SEEK OUT OTHER ENTREPRENEURS LIKE YOURSELF
As I explain in my book Master The Art of Life, what helped me most to overcome the feeling of loneliness was meeting others in my position.
I see these people as allies: they have already embarked on a path like mine, and understand the joys and frustrations of being an entrepreneur. The example of their success inspires me.
The more you surround yourself with successful people, the more the idea of ‘making it’ will become real for you. The more time you spend with them, the more your mind will open up to the possibility of success.
For example, if your goal is to write a book, seek out other people who are writing books. Even better, get in touch with people who have already written one, who have experienced what you are going through, and who have achieved the results you are aspiring towards. No-one could better advise and support you.
So how do you go about finding like-minded people? Here are a few simple strategies I adopted:
1. TAKE PART IN NETWORKING MEETINGS
When I was looking for other entrepreneurs, I sought to take part in networking events. Here in Singapore there are many of these: there might be in your host country too.
For example, you could use www.meetup.com to find groups that share your passions, whether these be personal or professional. Thanks to this site, I discovered the Athena Network, and later, other networking groups such as Business Women Network.
To be honest, I’m not really a fan of this sort of thing: the introvert in me prefers meeting in small groups, or one-to-one. However, taking part in these events was very useful to me. It got me out of my shell, and allowed me to meet new people. Not only, but I was also able to promote my own activity, and to make contacts which were useful in developing it.
You need to bear in mind, when you attend these events, that the people you will meet all have problems and desires, as we all do, and that what you do could be useful to some of them. Don’t go with the idea of selling something, but be ready to listen, and be open to asking the others to share their needs.
2. ATTEND A CO-WORKING SPACE
This concept was completely unknown to me before I started: there are collective places where you can rent a desk, use Wi-Fi, a printer, and whatever you need for your work. Usually they cost a lot less than a ‘real’ office, and what’s more, they are packed with other entrepreneurs.
One thing I love about co-working space is that they very often organise social events, where, apart from picking up useful information about doing business, you can meet others who are on a similar track as you. This means that it’s easy to develop a sense of community, of sisterhood, and of mutual support.
There are different types of co-working spaces: some are more formal and professional, others more friendly and welcoming. I opted for Woolf Works, because it’s aimed at women and because the founder, Michaela, has managed to create an atmosphere of peace and serenity that I love! I don’t go every day since I work from home; however, I know that I always have the support of a network of very smart women.
3. JOIN A LEAN-IN CIRCLE
Thanks to Woolf Works and the events it organises for members, I discovered Lean In circles, which are small groups of people who meet regularly to learn to grow together.
These circles are inspired by the concepts presented by Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In, and are designed to help people, especially women, to move out of their comfort zone, and to empower them professionally so they can move forward in their career.
There are over 27,000 of these groups around the world, with the common ethos of mutual support. If there isn’t one in your city, you might think about creating one: all the information on how to this can be found on the site.
We meet about once a month for two hours. At every meeting, the co-ordinator Nadine proposes a main theme for discussion, for example, who we want to be in our business, what we want to bequeath to the world, our key values, or the power of vulnerability. After this, we go around the table to share our progress in our respective businesses, and the goals we would like to achieve before the next meeting.
4. FIND OR CREATE A MASTERMIND GROUP
If all this is not enough for you, you could find or create a small mastermind group of about 3 – 6 people. So what is it all about? In his book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill describes it an alliance of minds, or rather “the coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose”.
At ThreeSixtySkills, in September 2015, I launched the SMARTwomen initiative, a free online mastermind group for women entrepreneurs. We still meet regularly on Skype and support each other in our entrepreneurial work.
A mastermind group, apart from enabling you to meet other women who are on the same path as you, can provide you with feedback and suggestions from different points of view. If you are on your own, you might find yourself blocked in a situation because you can’t see the possible ways out: advice from suitably competent women who are outside your business can help you broaden your perspective and find new solutions.
Last but not least, taking part in a mastermind group helps you to remain focussed on your objectives, and to keep your motivation strong, because you have someone to answer to. The group helps you keep track of your progress, stimulates you to keep faith in the goals you have declared, and encourages you to commit more deeply to these goals.
5. SIGN UP WITH RELEVANT FACEBOOK GROUPS AND MEMBERSHIP SITES
Finally, don’t forget Facebook, the social medium par excellence. There are numerous groups for women entrepreneurs, both at a local and global level. You just need to run a search of Facebook groups to find which one is suited to your needs.
You can use key words such as the name of the country you live in
+ “business”, or “expat”, or “work”, “entrepreneur”, “mompreneur”, “womenpreneur”, and so on.
With the Expatclic team, we formed the private group Expat women at work. Join us now (it’s free!) to meet other women who, like you, have reinvented their career abroad, and to tshare your story with us.
Additionally, you can join a fee-paying membership site for entrepreneurs. I love the Female Entrepreneur Association which, every month, publishes AMAZING content to help you grow your business!
YOUR TURN NOW
Now that you have a few ideas of how to link up with other entrepreneurs, it’s time to take concrete steps.
- Select one of the options presented above, and see how it could apply to your personal setup in your host country.
Do leave a comment to let me know what you chose to do, or what other options you know about.
Remember there are many women who, like you, have a skill to share, and who would like to build an activity in which they can earn, while at the same time following their passion.
You’re not alone!
This article has been first published on www.anh.coach. It has been translated from Italian to English by Paola Fornari. Thank you Paola for your help!