Startup Snag: How Do You Cope If You Feel Isolated and Alone Working for Yourself?
When you’re bringing a brand new business to life, flexibility is crucial. Things don’t always go according to plan, so entrepreneurs have to think on their feet, come up with new strategies and, sometimes, take their venture in an unexpected direction. In this series, The Startup Snag, we’re learning from established business owners who hit a snag early on and figured out how to solve the problem. We also find out how they’re doing today.
The startup snag: A self-described introvert, Elisabeth was excited to quit the corporate job she never liked in the first place and start working from home in the company of her beloved pets. To her great surprise, Elisabeth quickly found herself on an emotional rollercoaster.
“I had a really bad bout with anxiety and depression about halfway through my first year of business because I was shouldering so much responsibility. I didn't have enough self-awareness at the time to realize I was heading down that path until I was already there. I was sitting at home, and even though I’m married and have two cats, as well as other people I know from church and in the community, I just felt this pit of loneliness and despair. It was scary to be there and not understand how I'd even reached that point.”
The savvy solution: “From that time on, I had a lot of discussions with my husband and my friends saying, ‘I need your help.’ I asked my other creative friends, ‘Have you dealt with this before? How did you handle it?’ I had some really hard months. In terms of productivity for my business, it was pretty low, because I was trying to do a lot of personal recovery. I spent a lot of time away from Instagram, away from Facebook and away from all these social media avenues because I needed to focus on myself and stay in my lane. I needed to focus on myself and get better.”
The business today: Back then, Elisabeth got things done even on tough days by making extensive to-do lists. “The lists help me keep myself on track towards my goals and meet my deadlines on time for my clients.” Her strategy continues to work – big time. Today, Elisabeth enjoys rave reviews from delighted customers around the country, and her beautiful work has been featured in magazines, blogs and more.
Read the full story of Elisabeth Young and ElisaAnne Calligraphy right here.
QB Community members, how have you handled a startup snag?
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This is a really critical component and ubiquitous challenge for early startups. Elisabeth's story resonates with many folks. Especially in "startup culture" (which is a bit of a catch-all), it's easy to over-focus on the idea at the expense of the good people creating the ideas.
The ability to bounce ideas off others or work through problems with others through organic conversation is absolutely essential to the ideation process. I think the need for collaboration is one reason why collective workspaces have exploded in popularity over the last 5 years.
My advice is to create and maintain a network of people you trust and meet with them regularly, whether that means scheduling weekly video chats with colleagues or just meeting mentors for coffee. Strike a balance and work with people who can push both your professional and personal development, inside and outside your field.