Well, I know how someone can go back to the corporate world after working at home. Not that I want to do that, but I used to work in a room of 450 people, who screamed and ran around all day. I loved it. Now, I`m single, work at home. And even though I`m an introvert, I find the loneliness of owning a solo business horrid! Some of that might be that I deal with lifelong low-grade depression, but I hear of so many other women who don`t deal with depression who are lonely working at home.
Here is what I`ve done to combat it.
When I lived in NC, there was an incubator in my very small town. I would volunteer there at lunch time to answer phones or what not. Eventually I did my first not-paid business speaking event there, actually on stress reduction and it went over so well, I was asked back and became a regular speaker and teacher. I had hoped to rent a room there but I decided to move. I recommend this option to you, check out the National Association of Business Incubators.
My five year goal is to have an office with staff of 6 or a shared office with other professionals who work with business owners. I think it will be good to get out of the house more and interact one-on-one.
I "used" the Internet for a while to fill the void, and it doesn`t work long term. Instead I found myself online way to often. While there is a connection with those online, and I love it, it`s just not the same as the physical interaction.
I used to take on clients "whenever", six days a week, and that sometimes caused me to call them from weird places or in between shopping, or "living". And since I have goals to speak nationally and travel across the country once a year for a few months out of the year to go home (I`m a native NY`er living in WA state) I made more changes in 2004. The biggest change was that I moved all my phone clients to Mondays and Tuesdays, but I work longer hours on those days. Then on Wed, Thurs. and Friday I work fewer hours and schedule speaking engagements, attend networking events, meet for coffee, have meetings, etc. I make sure that I have lots of "me" time to re-energize.
Anyone else found that since they`re at home that they hate doing housework even more? I think part of it is because I`m cooking or making 3 meals a day now. But the rest is that I`m here so often!
So in 2005, since where I live in a town that allows home businesses but you can`t have employees, I did what I was legally able to do. I hired a teenager as casual labor and pay her from my personal money. She does everything from cleaning, to pressing, to my garden or whatever needs doing. Sometimes we work together. Although she`s doing cleaning and such, she prefers that to working at a fast food place. And she walks around the corner to work ;)
In 2006 I did a few other things to deal with the loneliness - I joined a business club in the city where I have the best chances of attracting clients. Now I have an "office" in the library of the club, or can rent space . I can go out to eat by myself and chances are that if I want, I can have lunch with other business owners, who are there to eat, too. They have networking and social events, too. I highly recommend looking around for clubs. Some are called city clubs, or women`s clubs, or business clubs. Some meet at country clubs or the tallest buildings in cities or towns.
I also put together a Power Team and some members live locally. I hope that we`ll be meeting quarterly, even if it`s just one-on-one. The team members all work with the same or very similar ideal clients, we like each other, have similar values and we refer each other. Takes a while to get to the point where I ask someone to be on my team, but it`s worth the trip! And I`m always looking to forge ahead to find other team members. What I`d like is to have at least `two` of each category of members. This way my clients can choose who is best for them to work with.
So far, this year, I`m re-evaluating the networking/associations I`ve been a member of and those who are out there to join. I`ve left a few groups and joined the National Association of Women Business Owners. Even though we don`t` have meetings locally (yet) I hope to meet fellow members.
Many are like me, starting social-networking group for business owners. Some groups are national, others are local. One group I`m a member of went to the Dead Sea Scrolls, out for a meal, networking and drinks. This week we did a mastermind with 8 business owners (4 women, 4 men). I hope to do more of that.
As you can tell, I`m doing everything possible to "NOT" be lonely or ever go back to Corporate America - cept to do speaking gigs at companies ;)
I`d love to learn what else I `could` be doing. Love this post. Thank you for starting it.