Just launched your freelance biz but didn’t realize working from home all day meant also being alone all day?
Raise your hand if you’re an extroverted entrepreneur who has found it difficult to transition from being in an office full of coworkers to being in an office full of plants.
It’s true that working from home has its benefits, but for so many entrepreneurs, it’s the camaraderie and daily interaction with other people that fuel them creatively. And the one thing that no one tells you when put in your two weeks’ notice to go out on your own:
It can be excruciatingly lonely.
From one extrovert who spends most of her days alone to another, here are six tips to combat the solo business blues.
1. Plan out your day
By the minute, if you can. The loneliest days are days where no plan is in place because “the inspiration will just come, right?.” Nope. In fact, those days are usually spent refreshing social media or watching Netflix.
Even if you don’t have client work, make a list of nagging projects that are kept on the backburner (like “Write down 10 ideas for a newsletter opt-in” or “Get car registered” or “Pitch one new client”) and then SCHEDULE them throughout the day.
With a daily plan, you’ll feel more energized and productive, and less “I wonder what everyone else is doing today.”
2. Join a gym
Every foray to the gym (or yoga studio, or spin class, or…) will provide you with a) a good excuse to run into friends that belong to the same gym or b) the opportunity to make new friends (aka the web designer that attends your yoga class every Thursday).
Plus, any opportunity to get out of the house will make you feel like you’ve done something with your day AND you’ll get your sweat on. 3 birds, 1 stone.
3. Find a coworking space
This seems like a no-brainer, but as a brand-new, solo entrepreneur who is trying to keep a lean budget, sometimes it’s hard to justify the cost of a work space when there’s plenty of space at home. However, aside from being around other people, you’ll meet a lot of other entrepreneurs, get your water cooler conversations in, and maybe even gain a few clients.
To keep costs low, see if you can share a desk with another freelancer (and split the cost) or ask a marketing firm if you can command one of their conference rooms for a few hours every week for a smaller fee. Working around other creative, driven individuals can make you feel more inspired and productive. (Click to tweet this idea.)
4. Fill out your social calendar
Though most of your friends may work traditional nine-to-five jobs, they need breaks from their desks just as much as you need a break from…well, yourself.
Coffee dates, lunch dates, and the occasional 4pm happy hour (hey, we can do that because we’re freelancers!) mean that you have some human interaction to look forward to. It also requires that you get all of your “Must Dos” done earlier in the day, which cuts down on Facebook-refreshing time. Less work, more play.
5. Reach out to other freelancers
It’s not an accident that many freelancers hang out together. If you’ve just started working from home, make “daytime” friends by reaching out to other writers, designers, photographers, and bloggers that you know will likely be working from home.
Under the guise of “I’d love to get to know more about the entrepreneurial community around here,” convince another freelancer or two to have coffee with you. I do this often, and it’s led to three new clients, an invitation to a “Freelance Ladies” networking group, and two very solid friendships.
6. Create networking goals
Networking doesn’t have to be sleazy and forced. If you give yourself two networking goals a month (like “Join a networking group” or “Hand out my business card 10 times” or “Sign up to give a presentation to the Local Entrepreneurs Group”), you’re not only giving your business a kick in the pants, but you’re creating a project for yourself that practically requires human engagement.
Even if you spend your time giving out business cards to the baristas at the coffee shops you frequent, who knows when they’ll need a writer to re-do their menu or revamp their website?
What other strategies can solopreneurs use to stay engaged with other people?