10 Dec One is the loneliest number
Soloist, independent professional, freelancer, entrepreneur. However you label it, the ‘gig economy’ is growing fast through connected technology, mobility, globalisation and a desire for flexibility. Today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics puts the number of solo or micro businesses operating locally at around 1.6 million, making up over 70% of the total small business sector.
It’s not surprising, because running your own small business and being your own boss is exciting. The freedom, adaptability and independence. Of course on the flip side there are many stressors. Cash flow issues. Difficult customers. You can work long and odd hours. And you have to wear so many hats – strategy, sales, accounts, marketing.
One of the key challenges faced by micro business owners is loneliness and isolation. You can spend a lot of time in your own head. And if like me you’re a soloist and single parent who works from home, you can go days without seeing anyone over 14!
It’s a societal issue
Loneliness isn’t only an issue for small business owners, it’s a broader issue in our society. Recent research by the Australian Psychological Society and Swinburne University, which comprehensively measured loneliness in Australia for the first time, suggests one in four Australian adults is lonely. The data doesn’t show insights into type of work, but I’d bet a high proportion of the lonely people are micro business owners.
Technology has increased our ability to work from anywhere. And in theory social media has increased our level of connection. However, the reality for many of us is that technology means we spend less time face-to-face with people. Working as a consultant, I can deal with clients via email or phone. In fact, I have clients that I’ve never met face-to-face. And without that in-person connection our ability to establish strong, meaningful relationships is inhibited.
How small business owners can tackle loneliness
As small business owners we need to take steps to tackle loneliness and to make face-to-face social connections. There are plenty of options if you give it some time and thought, such as:
- putting extra effort into catching up with friends and family – perhaps try a lunch or coffee catch up with someone each week/fortnight
- getting out in your local community for a walk or coffee and conversing with some real people
- finding a local personal training posse, Pilates class or walking group and socialise while exercising (double the benefit!)
- attending seminars or networking events to mix and connect with other business owners
- starting a Beyond Business Group to create your own local tribe of like-minds.
A key aim of Beyond Business Groups is to combat the loneliness of small business owners. Our small group learning model facilitates local face-to-face connection, fun, sharing and support. So watch out loneliness, we are taking you on! One small business group at a time.
You can find out more about Beyond Business Groups here.
You can download the Australian Psychological Society loneliness study here.