Many solopreneurs are introverts by nature. I know I am, at least according to Myers-Briggs.
And remember that being an introvert does NOT mean that we dislike people. It just means that being around people costs us energy unlike our friends the extroverts who gain energy (I think maybe they’re energy vampires).
But I believe there is an inherent difference in the problem of loneliness for solopreneurs depending on whether you are extroverted or introverted.
I believe this because of years ago I hired a salesperson at my small startup company who was a full-blown extrovert. I quickly learned that I needed to carve time out of my day to go and chat with him or he would start to have serious difficulties focusing and then would wander around chatting it up with people and generally reducing productivity. He needed human interaction the way my Golden Retriever needs to be pet regularly.
For us introverts, it’s less obvious. We don’t overtly crave human interaction the way that extroverts do. We are a lot like the frog in the cold water that’s put on the lit stove. It becomes a problem so slowly we may not even notice it.
My point is that extroverted solopreneurs likely seek out human connection the way people seek food and water. It’s just what they do so isolation does not become a big problem for them. Introverts, on the other hand, need human interaction too but may be less inclined to recognize the need. And the resulting isolation can become a problem.
I have observed this firsthand. We recently started hosting interactive events as well as a Facebook Community for solopreneurs. The response from some of the participants of “I can’t believe you’re doing this,” and “This is so great,” honestly took me by surprise. Our events are helpful, and our community is great but there was something more to it than that about some of the responses.
I think that perhaps we addressed a problem for some solopreneurs that they didn’t know they had. And we were probably getting credit for simply addressing the issue as much as for the quality of our offering. And I’m good with that!
So, if you’re an introverted solopreneur, what should you take from this? I suggest the following:
- Take a hard look at your life and ask yourself whether isolation is a problem for you.
- If it is not in general, then ask whether you are lacking interaction with people who understand what you are going through. Do you need this kind of social interaction? I have a good deal of interaction with my wife, kids, and some friends but none of them occupy the solopreneur world that I live in. Time with people who understand your struggle intimately is powerful.
- Interacting with other solopreneurs can help you find solutions to the issues you struggle with.
- Helping other people with their problems is incredibly satisfying. When you hang with people that are in a similar boat and you know the solution to something they’re struggling with, it’s an amazing feeling.
So, all I ask is this – especially if you’re an introvert: Take stock in how isolated you are in your solopreneur business. If it’s all good, awesome. But look hard and if there is something lacking, find a way to address it that works for you. Perhaps you can find people in your area to have coffee with. And, while it’s not quite the same as face-to-face, there are groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. And (shameless plug) we’d love to have you at our own Solopreneur Community. So go meet some fellow solopreneurs!
Struggling to navigate the solopreneur journey on your own? Be sure to check out The Solopreneur Success Cycle!
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