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The loneliness of the self employed

The loneliness of the self employed

We love talking to members about what they do, why they love North Tyneside as a place to do business. We’ve been chatting to Tynemouth Counselling

“Put your shoes on every day.”  

This was the one piece of advice given to me by a self-employed business owner after he ditched the corporate world for the uncertain arena of self-employment. At the time, I didn’t understand what he meant.

To many a weary office worker, tired with the daily commute, the workplace politics and the hours spent working for someone else, the dream of one day being your own boss, is very attractive.  Some business start-ups begin by choice, others as a route to employment after redundancy or a career break.   Whatever the motive for becoming a small business owner, most have one thing in common.  They work alone.

The dream of freedom from the corporate world can quickly fade when the embryonic entrepreneur realises they are on their own.  No-longer can they pick up the ‘phone knowing they have the backing of a big business, a corporate strategy, a marketing team, a sales force, or even just a corporate reputation.

The office becomes the back bedroom, the company car, their car, the expenses, their expenses.

It is no surprise that loneliness can set in.  They have become the little guy.  Every rejection, every unanswered email is taken personally.  Its human nature.  They are investing heart and soul into this venture.  Not to mention their own cash.

In my business as a counsellor, I meet all sorts of people, facing all sorts of issues.  One that has appeared several times recently, is loneliness.  How can a busy, 30, 40, or 50-something who runs a business be lonely?   It’s a reasonable question, but when I explore the problem, I find stories of hard-working people who miss the interaction of the office.  The teamwork, the chat over coffee with a colleague.  Even the memory the irritating “office joker” solicits a wistful smile.

This is why business forums, and regular networking meetings are so important.   Not only are they an opportunity to meet potential customers, but they are a chance for the small business owner to interact with people just like them.  It’s a wonderful feeling to talk to someone about what you do, face-to-face.  To hear their story, to share the positivity.

Small business owners may work on their own, but they are certainly not on their own.  There are 5.4 million micro-businesses in the UK.  That’s a lot of people to talk to. 

As the old BT advert used to say, its good to talk, and as my small business-owning friend advises, put your shoes on every day.



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