Entrepreneurial Loneliness and Talking to Yourself

Dec 7, 2017, Written by Jim Miley


What is Entrepreneurial Loneliness? I have been known to talk to myself. Not just in my mind or a single phrase comment, but actual conversations with two distinct positions arguing opposing points like a scene out of a movie featuring a crazy antagonist. Don’t judge me.

Most people need someone with whom they can collaborate, talk through problems, and brainstorm ideas. That someone needs to be a person we trust and who understands our situation at more than a superficial level. Ideally we can look forward to well-informed feedback to help focus our thoughts and actions.

My definition of Entrepreneurial Loneliness is feeling that you’re missing a trusted partner with whom you can fully share professional challenges. Having both experienced this form of loneliness and heard it described by many clients, I searched the web for a published definition or articles on this very common condition. I found a few articles that almost described my experience but far enough off to prompt a post of my own on the subject.

Small business leadership can be a lonely job.

You wear many hats, devise many plans, drive many objectives, help many people and encounter many problems. And when you just need someone to talk to about your challenges, you sit right down with… yourself?

Often the most available people in our lives are not a good fit for the role of a business collaborator. Our spouse or family may not be equipped to advise or it may not be healthy to bring the weight of talking shop into every conversation. Friends may tell us what we want to hear or not have a stake in the outcomes of our decisions.

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.  Proverbs 11:14 ESV

I empathize deeply with the small business leader. Of course executives and managers of larger organizations do have a similar threat of professional loneliness but it is simply easier to solve with a larger pool of professional peers and capital resources in the mix.

Many of my entrepreneur friends and clients have a surplus of good ideas: ideas for improving their business, ideas for new business concepts, ideas for how their team could develop, the list goes on and on. All of my entrepreneur friends and clients have a portfolio of challenges: challenges to their good ideas, challenges in need of solutions.

Here are some simple and proven actions you can take to both deal with and avoid Entrepreneurial Loneliness:

  • Join an industry Leadership Group: Leadership groups can be “Twenty-Groups”, “Mastermind Groups”, or any of a dozen other named collaboration groups. I recommend an industry-related group as there are benefits to people who understand how your business fits into the industry puzzle.
  • Find an experienced, successful peer or mentor / sage to schedule regular 1:1 time: I have found great value in relationships developed from my church community. Friends whom you can trust, that share your faith and with whom you will be transparent are great to keep on your calendar. You do have to ask and let them know why you are asking for their input.

Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion… 1 Timothy 1:6 ESV

  • Find a Business Coach to come along side you: This is shameless plug for my trade, but very sincere and heartfelt. Having someone with strong business experience, providing objective feedback and ideas with no personal bias can be a great remedy for Entrepreneurial Loneliness. A business coaching relationship can grow quickly to the point that your coach will understand the nuances of your business and your otherwise private aspirations and needs.

Entrepreneurial Loneliness is a very real condition that most small business owners face at some point and often chronically.  You’re not alone so don’t be. Deal with it well for the good of your business and more importantly your mental health.

Leave a comment on how you avoid Entrepreneurial Loneliness as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

… for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.  Proverbs 24:6 ESV

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Jim Miley

As a Business Coach, Jim brings a broad background of operational and sales management skills and expertise to help small business owners grow their business and reach their highest potential. He has 30 years of field-proven professional experience.

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