With the UK startup scene bursting at the seams – the London tech startups alone having increased by 76% in 2017 – more and more professionals are deciding to swap the suits for the trainers.
And while setting up your own business to become your own boss can be incredibly energising and exciting – with you having put your heart and soul into making a move that many of us can only dream about – there are many challenges that come with it too. None more so than feeling like you’re embarking on a lonely journey.
Office parties, team meetings, spontaneous group discussions or water-cooler moments are no longer a thing – at least when you’re starting out. So how do you combat startup loneliness? Read on for some of our top tips.
Find your entrepreneurial tribe
There’s nothing better than surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals who share the same ambitions and challenges as you.
There are an array of communities and networks dedicated to entrepreneurs and founders, highlighting just how critical the topic of startup loneliness is becoming.
The UK Domain has put together a handy list of some of the top community groups:
- Startup Grind London – Startup Grind is the largest independent startup community, with networks in 450 cities around the world. One of their values is ‘believing in making friends, not contacts.’ What’s not to love?!
- TechHub London – located in London’s biggest cluster of tech companies – the silicon roundabout in Old Street – this network is specifically aimed at tech entrepreneurs and startups.
- ICE – is a group of 300+ London founders, investors and startup leaders who disrupt industries, share breakthroughs and forge friendships.
- The Supper Club – With a heavy focus on entrepreneurship (and eating), The Supper Club aims to inspire and enable entrepreneurial activity through its ‘Give and Get’ ethos and provision of curated connections for its network of London founders.
- Blooming Founders – London based Lu Li set up Blooming Founders, a community designed to help female founders, entrepreneurs and freelancers with a support group and a sole environment to expand their professional network.
Seek out a mentor
Chances are this person has overcome the same challenges you’re facing now, including loneliness. So seek out someone who you can learn from, who inspires you – someone who understands what you’re going through, someone who listens to you, and who’s there to give you advice when you need it.
Take care of you
Bringing structure when you’ve suddenly gone from 9-to-5 to working 24/7, is imperative. It’s easy to start making your business your life and letting hobbies and pastimes fall by the wayside.
Scheduling your day into buckets – ‘work’, ‘social’ and ‘you’ can bring about a sense of routine and help ensure you’re not always slaving away at your laptop. And ‘you’ time is probably the most important bucket of ensuring your mental health stays healthy. You time could look like anything – it could be whatever brings you joy. From a run in the park, to yoga with friends, to picking up an instrument. As long as it’s not business related.
Become friendly with nature
Whenever you can (and weather permitting, of course), take yourself outside. Whether that’s having your lunch away from the screen or holding alfresco meetings with clients, the more you can interact with mother nature, the better it’ll be for you and your soul.
Nurture your non-startup relationships too
It’s easy to start saying no to every social invite, because that means less time on building your dream. But to remain focused and fresh, we all need to sometimes switch off and relax with loved ones. Who knows, this may just be time you discover the solution to that problem that’s been keeping you awake at night…
Get a dog…
…or your preferred choice of furry animal. Studies show that pets are generally great for combatting loneliness. And when you’re lacking routine, the structure that caring for a dog brings, means you incorporate back some of that routine into your day. So taking your dog out for a walk naturally becomes that break (outside) you need.
Going into business on your own doesn’t actually have to mean in literal terms. You can still create a healthy community around you, so that you don’t feel like you’re doing it all on your own.