Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. Often we work alone. A team of one.
I can only speak for myself as a photographer in this post, but I do have a feeling my thoughts can apply to many of us entrepreneurs out there.
When I am shooting a wedding I am surrounded by people. But often lost in my own bubble of concentration as I focus on the events and do not want to miss a moment that could mean something to the couple or families. Small talk is scarce, not because I don’t love interacting and making new friends, but because I have a job to do. Even talk with my assistant (if I even have one that day) is quick and whispered. We don’t want to look like we are having TOO much fun and risk a guest thinking we are not working hard enough.
After the event, photographers head home (alone) and over the next few weeks, spend a minimum of 10-30 hours per wedding uploading files, culling, hand editing hundreds of images, exporting, resizing, uploading and organizing to a gallery, creating a slideshow to music and a blog post, sneak peak for social media, album and card designing, communicating with the couple and other vendors, ordering prints, packaging and delivering the final goods....all ALONE.
The work behind the scenes like marketing, branding, and advertising are typically done alone, or with minimal digital communication.
We often work from home. Alone in an office or studio. Just us and our favourite Spotify playlist to keep us entertained.
Perhaps this is why we spend hours scrolling Instagram or social media? To connect with other entrepreneurs? To watch their stories and see that they are happy and thriving and they work alone too, so it's possible to still be an entrepreneur and have a life. Yet often what we see is other people in our industry hanging out and socializing or doing projects with other creatives and this just makes us feel more alone and sometimes sad because we were not invited to hang out, or collaborate with someone, or feel like we will never be part of the "cool crowd".
Then what happens next is we turn off social media, take a break and stay offline in order to stop comparing ourselves to others or experiencing FOMO. This works for a bit, until we get lonely again and need some human interaction- even if it is just online.
I also wonder - Is it a coincidence that so many of my entrepreneur friends suffer from depression or anxiety or other mental health issues? It could very well be that we are more vulnerable online and open to talk about things as that is part of our brand or lifestyle, yet I believe there must be a deeper reason behind why entrepreneurs often suffer. Perhaps, reaching out online may just be the only way to not suffer alone, to find a tribe of people who are experiencing the same things, to find your #metoo. Since we work alone most of the time, our online community often becomes our family.
Every single day I look so forward to my daily audio chats with 2 of my photography besties. We talk to one another all day and it is usually the first app I turn on each morning - to hear their voices makes me feel connected and less alone and makes me smile on my daily commute. However, we are still alone. Listening to each other’s voices...but alone at home or in our cars.
So what can we do?
Well friends, I am not a doctor or therapist, and these are just my ideas so far. I feel it is so important for us to stick together and help one another not only get through the tough and lonely times but also GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! We need to connect in real life, see faces, look into each other’s eyes, hug and feel human touch. Creating a local community of entrepreneurs is so important which is why I love the premise of the Rising tide Society and Tuesdays Together movement. Through our local chapter I have met so many new friends and business partners, and even though I do not see them face to face enough, I know they are close by should the need to socialize does arise. The premise behind Tuesday’s Together is this: “We believe that getting out from behind your computer and building true relationships with other creative entrepreneurs is an incredible tool for success”
Look for a local community work hub - often shared office spaces you can rent hourly to work, but in a community like setting so you can actually see and hear other people working around you.
Try to get out, even if just a few times a month. Set up a local networking or social lunch with other entrepreneurs in your community. I bet there are tons who are just craving to get out of the office for an hour and socialize.
Make time to have fun. Especially during your busiest season. Put down the phone for a day and just do something totally unrelated to work. I know this is tough as an entrepreneur. We are always thinking about emails or our next post or running through a bazillion ideas in our heads. Running your own business is definitely not a job you can turn off as soon as you leave the office!
Now I am guilty here because I do not do any of these things enough, but maybe some of these ideas can help you feel less alone, and if I helped one person with this, my job is complete. I would love to open this conversation and hear what you guys think, or what you do when you feel like you are always alone. Leave a message below and let's talk!