How I Broke Out of Entrepreneurial Solitude

Why real-life connections matter

Solitude has a price 

If you’re an entrepreneur or in sales, no doubt, you’ve heard the quote from Jim Rohn, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

It’s simple and makes sense to most of us but if the people around you are family members or people you come into contact with daily due to a commitment such as work, a paid mastermind, etc. it can be a painful realization and a tricky one to heed.

And if you’re a solo entrepreneur working from home and don’t live in a city or close to one, there’s the challenge of solitude.

For many of us reading Jim Rohn’s quote we may be wishing, we had that many people around us on a regular basis. Being connected to five encouraging people who are driven, have a growth mindset, and share qualities we strive for sounds like a tall order.

I found myself in this scenario this spring. The lack of real-life connection to other people other than my children and neighbors took a toll on my mental health and motivation.
Deep down I also knew that the few people I spoke to on a regular basis were struggling with their own challenges and keeping a positive outlook myself while maintaining these connections was like pushing a rock up a hill.

How do you increase and uplevel your connections offline?

I had loads of inspiring people in my online groups, but I began to see that that was not life. I needed to find people in real life, some biz buds. Real-life local clients. Real life workspaces.
In the semi-rural community about 30 minutes outside Boston where I live, we don’t have some of the easy stops at cafes and shops that many people in urban and suburban areas take for granted. It takes more effort to get out and find a co-working space that’s buzzing with people, but I was determined to find a solution to my self-imposed entrepreneurial isolation.

Local clients in my community

For me, it wasn’t just about finding a place to work. I knew I needed to regain the sense of professionalism I felt when I went to an office and gave a presentation or worked with clients. I also needed to be earning while connecting. As a solo mom of two young girls, any time I spend away from home means my kids are in school or paid care and I knew I needed to cover that expense, or I’d be in the hole.

Over a period of two months of concentrated effort, I found a way to pull myself out of the slump I was in and reinvigorate the passion I had for my business and life.
Here’s what I did to find new clients and rebuild my perspective.

1.) Visited the local co-working space

I went to the new co-working space and introduced myself to the manager. I planned to create a series of social media workshops to help small business owners increase their visibility and reach new audiences. I asked him about their set-up, toured their space, and got the lay of the land for a large conference room perfect for workshops.
This simple 30-minute stop eventually led to me giving a free an in-person training session, a Social Media for Small Business owners Q&A with a local BNI group. I met eight new business owners, made three new friends, and have two new clients. 

2.) Became a tutor/trainer within my local community

Some of my work projects were dragging on due to clients traveling and being out of touch on vacation. I knew that if I could step in and help some new clients quickly, from start to finish, that would be a big boost for my morale. I have a background in training and wanted to teach again. I found a tutoring site, put up a profile, and got certified and approved for video production, design, HTML coding, and photography.

I had my first tutoring session with an adult student at my local library within a few days. The next one followed that week. These students left reviews and created social proof for my ability to train and teach which helped me get more students. One had a substantial project and we were able to work together intermittently and built an ongoing relationship. The tutoring company handled all my payments and I got paid within a week.

It was almost too easy.

3.) Found a local network that celebrates and supports moms in business

While searching for the co-working offices online, I noticed a brand new mompreneur community called Pepperlane launched and used the space for an event. Jackpot! — my tribe! — one of my podcasts for women is aimed at inspiring and finding effective strategies for mompreneurs to move forward in life and business. I couldn’t believe my good fortune in finding them. So I left them a comment on their Facebook site, joined their online community, and created a profile.

The next day my phone rang as they reached out to learn more about me – how’s that for personal?

Does social connection actually matter?

That single phone call led me producing a series of profile videos for their live event six weeks later. I found myself recording other moms in business giving their elevator pitches. I was surrounded by the exact people I was longing to connect with just a few weeks earlier.

I now have more than a handful of women I can reach out to and discuss business ideas or just grab a coffee. Opportunities to collaborate are popping up organically, and instead of feeling like a small fish in a big pond online I now feel like a big fish in a small pond within my tribe and I’m able to help my fellow mompreneurs with their visibility and digital marketing strategy.

Had I not challenged myself to leave my home and get out into my community I wouldn’t have all these opportunities.
Shifting my focus offline to creating relationships and breaking out of the online bubble has also given me more purpose, motivation, and a deep sense of satisfaction. In 3 short months, I’ve challenged myself to push through deep fear and do things in my business that I couldn’t before. I’ve produced more content in 3 months than I did in the seven months prior, I’ve completed everything I’ve started, and I have a steady stream of clients and client leads.

My business plan for 2018 is mapped out and I’m excited about what’s around the corner.

Sociobiologist E.O. Wilson wrote, “To be kept forcibly in solitude is to be kept in pain, and put on the road to madness. A person’s membership in his group — his tribe — is a large part of his identity.”

When I found this from E.O. Wilson, it was incredibly validating. I hope people will remember his quote and the research behind it when they’re feeling isolated, down, or  stuck in their circumstances. Offline connections with people can be a catalyst for many opportunities and a sense of happiness that we can’t imagine when we’re tied to our solo routines.
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