Updated: Apr 5
I have to admit, being an entrepreneur can get lonely. If you read my story, you would know that my husband and I run our own creative branding agency. Even though I have my husband as my business partner, we lead different parts of the business and face our own challenges. Two years ago, everything came to a head, and I experienced regular moments of entrepreneurial loneliness. I’m sure you’re thinking -- is there such a thing?
At first, I didn’t believe it either. So I typed in “Being an entrepreneur is lonely” into a Google search and boom! Within two seconds, over 10 million results popped up. I was pretty amazed.
If you’re an entrepreneur – regardless of whether you’ve got a business partner, or you are going at it solo, it’s a known fact that the stresses of being an entrepreneur can kill you! Since you are the boss, who do you turn to, bounce ideas off when you’re stuck, or get advice on what steps to take next?
Here are 3 strategies to fight entrepreneur loneliness:
1. Hire an Executive Coach – Running your own business is a challenge. Add the complexity of your spouse being your business partner and it’s the TEST of a lifetime.
When my husband and I kept butting heads on almost every business matter, I knew something had to change. Immediately, I hired Mary Rezek, an executive coach, to help me hone my entrepreneurial leadership style while managing the stresses of running a business, as well as my professional relationship with my husband. Now, hiring an executive coach is a personal thing. I chose Mary because she has (a) personal and professional values that are similar to my own; (b) lived and worked in China for over 20 years (c) a phenomenal track record of transforming modern leaders working in global environments.
2. Set up a Board of Advisors – Board of Advisors are not directors of the company. Think of them as experts, who specialize in a particular business area, and can act as a sounding board for you, or help you to fill your knowledge gaps. Advisors can provide guidance, insights, connections, opportunities, resolve challenges or next steps. Identifying and selecting potential advisors is an arduous task, however consider the extra minds and connections you are tapping into!
How and where would you start even looking? Start by identifying what knowledge gaps you need to fill. Is it finance, legal, business opportunities? Once you have identified the knowledge support you need, search for potential advisors within your professional and personal network. You’d be amazed how easy referrals can come by if you ask around. I find LinkedIn, local branches of the Chamber of Commerce, and business networking groups helpful in connecting with professionals outside of your own network.
3. Join Your Local Entrepreneurial Community – One of my favourite entrepreneurial online communities continues to be Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Work Week Blog. The level of enthusiasm, wisdom and inspiration this community gives out is contagious! While I enjoy the reads and global perspectives, what I have found extremely effective for me personally, is having access to entrepreneurial friends who are based in Shanghai (where I am currently based) and understand the business environment and challenges of Mainland China. Without stating the obvious, the business environment and challenges in Mainland China are complex and significantly different from the West. We all have different challenges, so always have a few close friends you can pick up the phone and call anytime.
Some of the local business communities I’m tapped into include:
· American Chamber of Commerce – Shanghai
· Australian Chamber of Commerce – Shanghai
· Boss Lady – Shanghai
· Mentor Walks – Hong Kong and Shanghai. You can follow MentorWalksAsia on WeChat for the Shanghai Chapter.
The number of groups you can join in your local community is endless! Start by registering in a few networking events and see which group is the right fit for you.
Being an entrepreneur is extremely rewarding, and will bring its own set of challenges. Working for yourself, doesn’t mean working by yourself. Don’t be afraid to seek help, inspiration, or motivation. Hiring an executive coach, setting up a board of advisors, or joining local business communities will give you confidence to know that you are not alone.
About Natalie Lowe
Natalie is managing partner of The Orangeblowfish, a creative branding agency with a strong presence in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Natalie has 20 years of experience in delivering effective global marketing and communications programs for Fortune 500 and startups. Natalie is responsible for driving business growth, client services, operational management and staff development. Natalie has been based in China for over ten years and speaks three languages fluently: English, Mandarin and Cantonese.