Whether you’re a founder, entrepreneur, or leader of an established business, you’ve probably heard “It’s lonely at the top” when you share what you do for a living. In many ways, running your own business can be an isolating experience if you don’t recognise it in time.
The majority of studies surrounding burnout and work-related psychological stress tend to focus on employees rather than leaders. And lack of research can often mean a lack of conversation, meaning that the subject can tend to be left behind.
The One-Man Band
For founders in the early stages of their journey, the level of dedication and hard work it takes to make your business succeed is immense. Being solely responsible for the decision-making, revenue, and wellbeing of your team can be a heavy burden, and there aren’t many outlets available to CEOs to help alleviate some of those stressors.
Having a healthy relationship with your work isn’t only crucial to your success, but with SMEs making up 99% of the UK’s business population, it’s crucial to the success of the economy.
You are the Key to Success
There’s a degree of dedication that it takes to succeed in the entrepreneurial landscape that is unlike any other job. Founders will be all too familiar with working long into the night and holidays being in scarce supply.
Harvard Business Review identified the two types of passion prevalent amongst founders, the first being ‘harmonious passion’, where they can balance their jobs with other things in their life and as a result experience ‘high levels of concentration, attention, and absorption during their work.’
The other, defined as ‘obsessive’, feel that they cannot ‘live without their work and feel a strong urge to work in their companies 24/7.’ Concerns around social acceptance and money were higher in this group and found that they harboured more guilt surrounding the responsibilities they were neglecting, like their families and friends.
You Can Feel Misunderstood
With the responsibility and dedication demanded from your business, it can feel like those who aren’t doing the same don’t understand. Working yourself to the bone, doing long hours and having a strong vision can seem alien to the non-entrepreneurs in your life.
Even within your growing team, many leaders feel like they cannot have a confidant or band of work friends in the same way they could when working for someone else’s business. Leaders often feel that they cannot let loose, vent, or share worries with the wider team for fear of looking out-of-control, or causing employees to fear the future of the company.
Finding Your Network
So what can business leaders do to ensure they have a strong support network of people that do understand their struggles.
There is tonnes of research out there that tells us that it’s through maintaining stable and strong relationships that we feel a sense of belonging. Founders and entrepreneurs are no different. The pleasure gained from preserving our relationships will make you feel more motivated and happy in your business, and happiness equals success.
To help you in your battle with occupational loneliness, go out and find fellow SME owners and CEOs who understand what you’re going through. This could be through local networking groups and events, joining online forums, finding a mentor, or even choosing a workspace surrounded by likeminded leaders.
At Plus X we believe that innovation happens when a diverse mix of culture, skills and technology come together. We offer everything you need to enable and accelerate innovation in your business. By designing and developing innovation hubs, we create communities with collaboration in mind.
Setting up a base in a space designed for business and collaboration like Plus X will help you feel more supported on your journey. By working in close proximity to other business leaders, inspirational innovators, and businesses and freelancers to collaborate with, you can quickly build a network that shares your experiences and challenges.
In our innovation hubs, we offer a whole host of events and networking opportunities specifically curated for business owners to improve their business and connect with other people who understand the grind. Our programmes can connect you with experts and fellow business leaders, who will lift you with expert advice and comradeship along the way.
It’s normal to feel lonely as a leader, but that doesn’t mean you have to be isolated. Take action to combat your loneliness and make connections with likeminded leaders.
Book a tour in your local Plus X innovation hub and we can show what we’ve got to offer to help build a community for you and your team.
Content + Social Media Manager at Plus X Innovation.