Author: Shankar Meembat, The Alternative Board (Milton Keynes)
Recently a business owner shared with me the experience he went through about taking over a family business. It was a high street retail unit, and when he took it over it was in a bit of trouble. He made some changes including setting up online sales. And the online sales which were a novelty at the time, ended up taking off pretty well. However, the retail unit did not and the business eventually collapsed.
It is not that sequence of events that triggered me to do this content, but rather what he shared with me about his experience. He said there were two voices talking to him from either shoulder.
One egging him on: “Keep going, you don’t want to be a failed businessman.”
The other was more pragmatic. It pointed out that the suppliers were giving him trouble, similar businesses around him were failing and it was advising him to get out while he could. Well he did not and we know how it ended.
You and I, with the benefit of hindsight, would opt for the latter decision. But for a business owner immersed in these decisions, they are not easy. There are other people that need to be considered; families, employees, suppliers and of course, the customers.
But this brings around the issue that being a business owner, especially a small business owner, is very lonely. Loneliness is quite prevalent among small business owners, but there is good news – you don’t have to be all alone.
I’d like to just share with you the four C’s of how to combat loneliness as a business owner.
The first C is all about Community. Engage yourself in a community, especially online community. Social networks are not just for sales and marketing, but you can actually go find LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, and look for Twitter hashtags, that are common to your interests.
The second C is Connections. Especially human, real world connections. You create these by networking. Today there are plenty of networking opportunities, and I’m sure you will find them in your local neighbourhood. Use tools like Eventbrite and Meetup to find those events that are happening locally or within your catchment area. And then when you do meet people, don’t leave these relationships at the networking, go ahead meet them one-on-one for a coffee later too. You will find that there’s so much more in common among business owners than you might guess.
The third C that I would like to talk about, is something most small business owners miss, and that is Celebration. More importantly, don’t wait for big events, don’t wait for big occasions in order to celebrate. Look for the small successes. Maybe you just completed balancing your accounts for the month, or maybe you just had a good night’s sleep. They are all reasons to celebrate.
The final C I’d like to talk about is Collaboration. Collaborating with other business owners that are similar to you. When I get business owners together in my TAB advisory boards, it often surprises them to see how their problems are not unique. The same issues are often faced by all business owners.
So remember, you can combat loneliness by the four C’s:
- By building Communities
- By making new Connections
- By Celebrating
- And, very importantly, Collaborating with other business owners.