When I was pregnant with my first child, I was in a stressful corporate job working as Business Development Executive driving across town. I was so tired that I was petrified I was going to fall asleep on the wheel, and the sheer amount of work made me want to hide in the bathroom and cry, albeit, it could have also been the hormones.
Regardless, I knew the stress and demands of the job weren’t healthy for my unborn child, so I quit the security of paid employment and hoped that my husband’s income would get us through Christmas.
A few weeks later, he lost his job and that put us in a pickle.
It was in this moment of crisis I started my own consulting business at six months pregnant, and the rest was history.
Since then, my consulting and coaching business has seen me birth two beautiful boys, and although being a solopreneur has allowed me to be home and raise my boys and do meaningful work I love, it also came with its own sets of mental health challenges too.
Today, I want to share with you the three mental health challenges solopreneurs face and how I’ve been able to work through them.
1. Feeling Lonely
Being a solopreneur, I was not prepared for the amount of loneliness I would feel.
With no one to have a chat and offload my struggles during my trip to the coffee machine in the kitchen, I didn’t have a colleague next to me to bounce ideas with or even knock on the door of my manager to get feedback and support on something I’m working on.
We spend, on average, about one-third of our life at work according to a report on Workplace Wellness by PWC & Medibank 2010 Australia.
As solopreneurs, we often work longer hours, so having mentors and support within and outside our industry was key to alleviating loneliness and maintaining motivation as well as drive.
Here are some ideas to help relieve loneliness:
Join a Group
These days, you can go on Facebook Groups and connect with local professionals who are solopreneurs from similar industries, and often these groups are free.
I’m part of a local group of health and wellness professionals that meet up regularly, and it’s not only a great networking opportunity, but also an opportunity to start a mastermind group and table topic small business challenges and get creative solutions from experienced and season business owners.
Have an Accountability Buddy
This is someone who gets what it’s like to also be a solopreneur. You might have weekly “team” meetings, set your intentions for the week, and build in some accountability.
Collaborate with other professionals and work on projects together that can further both of your businesses like hosting an event, being a podcast guest, running challenges, and competitions.
I personally love working with other local businesses because it feels good to build my local community up, and you can start creating referral partnerships in the process.
2. Feeling Overwhelmed
Feeling overwhelmed can only lead to one thing – that’s losing motivation and drive.
One of the biggest challenges I faced as a solopreneur is having to wear multiple hats in my business. I was not only the CEO but also the sales and marketing team, but I also had to be the accounting and IT department too!
When you’re first starting your business, it can be paralyzing on how much you have to learn that’s not related to your “job title.”
We can then fall into the habit of compare-itis, second-guessing ourselves, and allowing the fear of failure to set in before we have even started.
Recognizing that you’re not going to know everything, you can start to identify skills gaps in your business, such as how to use social media for marketing, and schedule time during your week to close that gap.
Questions you can ask to help you close that gap:
- Can you outsource it to a professional?
- Can you get guidance and support in your group?
- Can you suggest this as the table topic of your next mastermind?
- Can you bounce ideas with your accountability partner?
- Can you read a book about it?
- Can you listen to a podcast about it?
Imagine if you spent one hour a day learning – that’s 365 hours a year – to master anything you need to know about building and growing your business.
If you think you don’t have time, just know that according to GlobalWebIndex’s 2018 report estimated on average, we spend 2 hours and 22 minutes online each day globally on social media.
Cut out mindless social media scrolling and use this time to be more productive. You can check inside your social media settings to see how much screen time you’re actually spending to monitor your progress week by week.
3. Feeling Like a Failure
Have you felt that there is so much to do and when you go to sit down to work, you don’t know what to do first?
One of the most important skills I believe as a solopreneur is effective time management skills.
As the captain of your own ship, you’re also the crew, so it’s easy to get heavily engrossed in an activity and then realize after a day’s hard work that you’ve wasted too much time on something that wasn’t very important, like tweaking your website for the 100th time.
There is a clear distinction between doing income-generating activities and time-wasting activities that make you feel like you’re doing work but you’re just keeping busy (aka, paper shuffling).
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
So a sure-fire way to stop feeling like a failure is to have a plan for a productive week by scheduling everything in your calendar for the whole week so you can visually see if your,’re managing your time effectively
Give yourself a small win by scheduling an easy task at the start of the day and build on that momentum. Prioritize bigger projects into smaller 2-hour blocks and plan them out from when they’re due.
More importantly is to plan for regular breaks and have a healthy and nutritious lunch to fuel your brain to look forward to.
Block out at least one walk to get fresh air and mini-breaks to stretch, do a breathing exercise, and meditate. It will help you think clearly and be more productive
From unpredictable cash flow, working long hours, and the juggling the multiple responsibilities, it’s important we prioritize our mental health and remember to adopt good sleep hygiene, plan to eat well, allocate time for exercise, and of course play.
As a solopreneur, it can be so rewarding to see the fruits of our labor and reaching the business milestones that we feel we can survive on just air, but it’s also important that we can mitigate the stress so we don’t burn out.