, , ,

What is business support

What is business support in your business? Is it the support you get as a business owner, or is it the functions within your business to support the whole business to run efficiently?

I think business support is both these descriptions, but it will also be different for each business.

As a small business, you are naturally doing all things in your business – from product management, to customer service, to bookkeeping and marketing.

As your business grows, you may not actually do all these functions yourself, but you’ll have support for aspects of your business.

Business Support Services

what is business supportThis term is generally used for business admin, finance and legal functions. In more recent years, this term has been used when you outsource any aspect of your business to someone else who will take that task on for your business. Marketing, PR, IT support, social media, book keeping and general email administration are all services offered, and used by businesses.

As your business grows, you may find that you create business support services within your staff team, (or remote support staff). Think about it. You need each area of your business to run efficiently, and sometimes you need people to support all aspects of the business. For example, cleaners in your office or shop are supporting the business. They are part of your support team.

What is Business Support

For me, business support is your support structure for you to grow your business. This may well be the staff, (and contract) team around you.

  • It’s also your training, learning, development, and keeping pace with new technology and software.
  • It’s your business coach who helps you work out your next steps, and encourages you to put in place the actions you need to do to take those steps.
  • It’s your networking group, (online or offline), who will be your cheerleading team, and tell others what you do
  • It’s your family and friends who will be there for you as your business grows

Where, what and how do you get your business support?

Is it from one place – a support company who provide you with the business support you need? Or is it from a variety, a mix of all the above? Have you thought about your business support team recently? What’s working? What maybe needs reviewing?

It’s interesting that since I started Action Learning Sets, and the Business Cheerleading Club, I’ve been more conscious of my own business support structure. My family and friends and what I need from them. My coaches and mentors. My networks.

I’m really enjoying the journey, it’s fab – Karen, Karen Peddie Holistics

It’s beneficial to air a problem, and put it out there. It makes you think more deeply about it rather than it rolling around in your head. It’s lovely to have other people’s ideas & then work out what’s right for me. I recommend being part of an Action Learning Set, whatever stage of business you’re at.”, Jane, Created4U

I started Manage Those Things to help business owners, like you, manage those things you can’t, won’t or don’t want to do. That’s classic business support. But the business club and more focused coaching & action learning are directly supporting you as a business owner to give you what YOU need to support your business growth.

Let’s talk through YOUR business support and check it’s the right mix for the next year of your business development. NOTE: Business Cheerleading Club members get one to one support £20 a month cheaper than booking one off sessions.

What is business support to you?

 

 

, , ,

Instagram Stories are a perfect way to tell your customers more

Instagram is currently used by over 200 million people each month, with 60 million photos uploaded every day with 1.6 billion likes. It’s a growing social media platform, which some people love, whilst others “don’t get”.

As a business, it’s an area you should certainly be considering using. Even if it’s just noticing what’s going on and seeing if your ideal customers are using instagram at all. More women are using it, and if you’re target market is women 26 – early 50s, then you should definitely check out instagram, as that’s where your customers are spending some of their time.

You may not even know what instragram stories are?

A new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile. As you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story.

With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want. You can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed.

Introducing Instagram Stories, August 2016

instagram storiesInstagram stories appear at the top of your screen when you’re looking at your instragram feed.

They can be video or a series of still photos or images. They don’t add to your normal instagram feed, and they disappear 24 hours after you’ve posted it.

Viewers can send you direct messages from your story, but there’s no public comments, making engagement directly with you, so you qualify the person’s interest in you by their response to your story.

I had the pleasure of learning more about instagram stories from Claire Jones-Hughes of Clarita Digital in an #inconversationwith interview, which you can view in full here

She explained that instagram stories are like a news feed, and shares current ideas, events and thinking.

 

Tips for using Instagram Stories for your business

  • Less is more – as long as it’s quality. Once a month could be enough
  • Consistency is crucial. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Start with committing to one post a month, then increase from there
  • Ensure your profile is up to date, and branded for your business & the links work
  • Have 9 photos uploaded to complete the grid people see straight away – at least 6 for starters if 9 feels too much
  • Spend time engaging with others on instagram – relevant comments and conversation
  • Create 15 second videos (from instagram app) of your event, your product, customer feedback
  • Use hashtags in your stories to help people find you
  • Don’t share across to facebook that have lots of hashtags (facebook doesn’t like it)
  • Ask your customers what they want to know about you and your business, and use that for your instagram stories

Next steps for using Instagram Stories

instagram stories tips for businessWhat I learnt from Claire, was to give it a go. Try it. Have a play. See what works for you, and what you enjoy.

That’s great for me, and my style, that’s how I learn best.

I know that’s not for everyone. Claire is available to help you and has a free webinar coming up soon.

We’ll be carrying on the instagram story conversation in the Business Cheerleading Club group, to support each other to start, learn, develop and improve. There’s plenty of space for you to join us there too, for all sorts of business support, not just about instagram or social media. Claire has also agreed to do a workshop for club members on instagram in May, (open to guests at a charge of £29).

Let’s connect on instagram – We’re at tracey_jane_hughes – what’s your account?

Have you used instagram stories? What’s your story with them for you and your business?

 

, , , ,

How to create flexible working business case

This week I’ve had the honour of accompanying two business owners to celebrate their flexible working businesses at the Mum and Working Awards. Both started, and run their businesses, around their young families. They both created a flexible working business case for them to work through with their husbands before taking the step of setting up by themselves.

The awards were and inspiring couple of hours, with many of the judges sharing their own flexible working decisions with us. It wasn’t all about business owners either. Julie Baker, Head of Financial Inclusion and Enterprise at Nat West, shared her story of how she created not only a flexible working business case for herself and family when she wanted to carry on working and developing her career. She also came up with an idea for a friend of hers who was working nights, whilst her husband worked days so they could manage looking after their own child. Julie created the flexible working business case for this lady to become a child minder, look after her own child as well as Julies, and create a more family friendly home life for her family.

We heard from more than one woman who’d been working in businesses which wouldn’t, (or couldn’t?) consider flexible working. So they set up their own businesses, to find the right flexible working environment for themselves and their families. It felt very much, “I can’t get what I’m wanting here, so I’m going to create it myself”.

Inspiring.

As I write this, on International Women’s Day, with the slogan, PRESS FOR PROGRESS, it feels like we shouldn’t have to write a flexible working business case, but it should be a core value in our society. Every business, large and small, should understand that working flexibly ensures skills and talents remain in the business and economy as a whole. Even though some jobs or roles may be difficult to organise flexibly, there’s no reason not to believe that flexible working is important to our economy.

Your business may also need more flexibility to respond to fluctuations in customer demand. So looking at your flexible working plans, and how things can work best for your business, using a flexible work force, should be part of your business review process.

Creating a flexible working business case

Whether it is for yourself, or your business, creating a business case for flexible working will help you see the opportunities and challenges.

Things to consider in the business case:

  • What do you mean by flexible working
  • How many hours are the minimum required for the job to be done well
  • Where does the work need to be done
  • How can each team member remain part of a team whilst working flexibly around each individuals needs
  • What are the core functions and hours of the business and how will they be staffed
  • Can technology help flexible working in the business
  • Is training needed for team around how flexible working will benefit them and work in practice
  • How will communication need to change for flexible working to be effective

It’s not necessarily about reduced hours, or working at different times of the day. It’s an opportunity to look at your business processes and identify what has to happen, and then work out the how & who will make it happen.

For yourself, if you’re creating a business case for your employer, or partner, think about the end result you want. Is it about continuing to do fulfilling work, but reducing your hours. Or is it about putting children, or caring responsibilities first?

Flexible working businessBoth Emma, from bras4mums, and Zoe from Bournemouth Bra Lady created a flexible working business case for themselves, and have created their businesses around their families. They were both finalists of Self Employed Parent of the Year, showing just how much that planning has helped them create the flexible business they want.

If that’s what you want, you can do it to. If you need help seeing all the options, personally, or for your business, book a call with Tracey-Jane & let’s explore together.

, , , ,

How commenting can increase your website ranking

It’s not just about being online, or “doing social media” that helps your online visibility. Whilst conversation and commenting may feel a bit old fashioned, they’re actually a fabulous way to increase your website ranking.

Now it’s not just me saying this, I learnt this from Alice Elliott, from The Commenting Club, in our conversation this week.

in conversation with Alice Elliott, the commenting clubAlice has been studying blogs, comments, online conversations, and the correlation with website rankings for the last 6 years. Commenting went out of fashion in about 2014 when spam increased and caused the larger blog sites to stop comments on their posts altogether. Commenting moved to twitter, a micro-blog site, and conversations grew more remotely.

Many people complain about how social media is used for “getting at” others, and in some ways you can see how it’s happened. The art of conversation and commenting has been lost when people only see a snippet of someone’s views.

Tips for commenting (& being commented on)

Alice gave us many tips for commenting on other people’s blogs, on LinkedIn, on You Tube. The summary is below.

  • Your comment needs to be relevant
  • Don’t be afraid to disagree with the writer. They’ve started a conversation and you’re joining in with your view. On your own website, don’t be afraid of sharing comments which disagree with you either. It shows you accept others views
  • Allow conversation to happen naturally in the comments section
  • By allowing conversation, you’re allowing a community of readers to develop who will share your work with others
  • A comment can be a mini-post of your own. Don’t write more than 500 words, and ensure it’s not longer than the original post
  • When you add your url to your comment, use a url to a relevant article on your own website. That keeps the conversation alive and shows other readers that you have experience in the topic being discussed

Alice suggested starting with trying to write 5 comments a week on other people’s work as a starting point.

How does commenting improve your website ranking?

commenting starts conversationEvery comment with a link back to your website adds a back link to your site. Every relevant conversation to your website (and the pages you link to), adds a tick in the search engines box that your site has good information about your topic.

When you reply to the comments on your own website, you’re adding more engagement on your site, and that’s creating more links and visibility to the search engines that your site is an expert in your topic.

Commenting develops your reach. People may see your name in different places, and start to look at what you do as they agree, or disagree, with you, and they want to know who they’re talking to.

Where do you find places to comment on?

Use keyword searches to see who’s talking about the subject you want to talk about. You may already be following some blogs relevant to your area of work. There’s lots of different ways to keep on top of other blogs, such as Feedly, and Digg.

You may just set aside some time to look at interesting things and make comments where you want. Your online commenting doesn’t have to be all business related. In fact, Alice suggested that simply being yourself and adding to conversations where you want, shows you at your best.

You may be in a networking group (online or offline) where you can read each others posts, comment and share them. That’s a great way of reading a wide variety of content, and sometimes practicing your commenting, if you’re not too confident to start with.

Commenting is about creating relationships, so whenever you comment, think about that. It’s not just about getting the backlink to your website. How can you engage with the author to develop your mutual understanding? Could you cultivate customers through commenting?

I found our conversation fascinating – the whole interview is here.

Online Visibilty Workshop Friday 27th April

Book your place to learn how to grow your online visibility by commenting HERE

If you want to learn more about commenting, take a look at The Commenting Club. There’s lots of articles to give you a flavour, and with Alice’s support you may well want to develop your commenting skills.

We also encourage sharing and commenting in the Business Cheerleading Club, where members share their website posts for other members to comment on and share – that networking I talked about earlier.

What’s your experience of commenting? Do you enjoy it? Are you a regular commenter?

What #tipsforbusiness have I missed off this list?

, , , , ,

Stress busting techniques from Esther Nagle

stress busting techniques for business owners from esther nagleWe all encounter a little stress in our lives, so it’s important to know some quick tips to reduce and remove our stress. These stress busting techniques were shared with us by Esther Nagle, from Balance and Breathe, in our recent online conversation.

Stress busting techniques

1. SLEEP

Esther’s top stress busting tip is getting your sleep right. Many business owners struggle to sleep well as your brain is buzzing with ideas, or you “just want to get this done”. Instead of getting good sleep, and letting our bodies and brains rest, we often believe that we’ll work through it.

Without sleep, we’ll start to feel more stressed, and out of control. Sleep helps us get a more balanced view of our work, and life.

2. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF IN THE MORNING

After your great sleep, Esther suggested that you need to make time for yourself in the morning to set up your stress free day. Whatever you do with that dedicated “morning routine”, (and you may need to play a little bit to get it right for you), be it exercise, meditation, planning, or a mixture of different activities, will be important to the day ahead.

3. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS

This is one area we know that business owners struggle to do. And it’s often the ‘regular’ bit of it that’s missing!

Whether you set an alarm to keep your day broken up, or schedule your day with breaks into it, it’s important that you step away from your work, take a break, before returning to it.

Having a drink, (why are brew areas so important in offices? Not just for the social interaction, but the act of moving from your desk to get a drink), going for a short walk, stretching, dancing, singing. Changing your physical and mental state for that whole body and brain change is important.

4. PRACTICE GRATITUDE

This is an interesting one, but one you’ll probably have heard of. It’s interesting that Esther thinks this is important as a stress busting technique.

Knowing that you have a lot to be grateful for can really help you to focus on what’s fantastic about your work and business, and know that the current frustations (stresses), are only there to make your business better in the future.

Some people write down their #threethings each day in a journal or diary, or even share them on social media (making you accountable for what’s good in your life). Others will have times during the day when they’ll think about what they’re grateful for.

5. GET HELP

I know from personal experience that business owners are often bad at asking for help! We think we have to know it all and do it all. Hmmm. That’s not going help our stress levels is it?

So, what can you ask someone else to do? Is it the family to do more around the house if you need to work in the business more? Can a friend help you out at an event, instead of you trying to do it all yourself & not being pleased that you couldn’t speak to everyone? Would an assistant be helpful to do the things you don’t enjoy/aren’t finding time to do?

6. BREATHE

It’s interesting that Esther chose this one to end our conversation, as when she started talking about it, it felt to me that it was the most important stress busting technique that’s available! [Note – Esther has told me since that she could have talked for days about breathing, so she left it until last to ensure she told us the other top tips first!]

Breathing well, helps keep us grounded. Simply breathing in and out, takes the focus away from our busy mind, and focuses on the breath. There’s different breathing techniques you can learn. For starters, simply breathe in and out deeply three times.

I use this when I start to feel a little anxious and is the perfect way to get yourself back in control when you feel yourself getting a bit ‘off balance’.

More stress busting technique support

I learnt loads from Esther, from Balance and Breathe, in our short time together. Her stress busting techniques are all simple to put into practice and are all free! We just need to do them.

Esther shared an excellent 13 minute relaxation exercise. You can contact Esther directly for more information, or support

If you’d like some support, as a business owner, to reduce your stress, whilst continuing to work in your business, the Business Cheerleading Club has other business owners who know what you’re feeling, and going through, and will support you to put your stress busting techniques in place. It’s a place to ask for help.

What else would you add to these stress busting techniques for business owners?

, , ,

Healthier you means healthier business

Do you believe that if you’re in a fit and healthy state mentally and physically you’ll have a healthier business? What are you doing to ensure you’re fit and healthy?

We do.

From personal experience, we’ve had healthier businesses, and happier customers when we’ve personally been happier and healthier ourselves.

If you’re ill and can’t go into work, open the shop, or create product, or follow up prospects, then your business literally starts to grind to a halt. When you’re on holiday you make plans for cover don’t you? But when you’re poorly there’s not always the same opportunity to get the right cover in place to fulfill the tasks you do. (We’ll talk about crisis management & continuity in your business another time).

Now we all know there’s a fine line between mental health and physical health sometimes, and they’re linked together inextricably. Personally, if I don’t have a walk, or some physical exercise each day, I feel low, and can’t think straight. It took me a long time to acknowledge the link though!

Why does my good health create a healthier business?

healthier you means healthier businessOK, think about it for just a second. If you’re feeling happy, that rubs off on those around you, and you will help them feel happier too, right?

It’s the same for your health. You are your business, or certainly leading it if you have a team who works with you.

If you’re under the weather, you don’t fire on all cylinders do you? You may make decisions differently than when you’re fully well. If you’re suffering from stress, or depression, this will certainly affect your decision making in your business, and your focus is likely to be distracted from your overall business goals.

Do you ever get fed up, close your computer and go for a walk? (or run, or bike ride, or yoga – whatever it is you do for relaxation and exercise) What happens?

It’s more than likely you’ll be more relaxed, and the issue that was frustrating you has either become insignificant, or not important; or, you’ll have worked out the answer to move things forward.

Does that sound familiar?

All that is, is you keeping yourself – brain and body – healthy, so you can make the right choices in your business.

How will you create a healthier business this year?

There’s many factors which go into creating and running a business. With many areas to manage as well. Managing them all well will help you create a healthier business this year, but what about you?

Have you got time off and holidays scheduled in your diary?

Do you take regular breaks during the day?

What’s your daily personal schedule to keep you healthy?

If you need some support to get you and your business more healthy, book a call with Tracey-Jane, or use the Business Cheerleading Club support and coaching to help you improve this aspect of your business.

How do you keep yourself fit and healthy, to ensure you manage your business as well as you can?

 

, , , , , ,

Why conversation is important to us

I love talking and meeting people and having a conversation. It helps the world go round, don’t you think?

If you don’t have a conversation with your client, how will you know what they want, and if you’re the right business to serve them?

How do find the right supplier, or negotiate the right deal for your business? You have to have a conversation.

I was looking at ways to help business owners learn tips and tricks to improve you improve your time management, or learn how to do something. I know you don’t have much time to go searching for what’s right for you. There’s so many courses and tutorials and youtube videos available, but what’s going to work for you?

Conversation with experts

in conversation with Sarah Arrow blogging for business tipsLast week I decided to have conversations with some experts I know in different areas of business, and personal development. My goal is to spend no longer than 30 minutes with the expert – they’re busy and so are you – getting a couple of #tipsforbusiness owners from them from our conversation.

I love learning, and spend a lot of time reading, and watching tutorials and webinars. But I’m sometimes left with more questions than I started with! I want to ask “what does that mean for me?”, “how do I do that in my situation?”. So, this way, I can do the asking!

We’re carrying out these conversations on our Facebook page as a live interview. So they’re free for anyone to watch, and ask questions during the conversation (or in advance if you can’t come live). We’ve created quite a list in a short space of time, and are now getting experts booked in for conversations in April. It’s wonderful how so many people are wanting to share their tips with others so we can all learn and do better in our lives and business.

Every conversation is recorded and will be available afterwards. For our Cheerleading Club members, they’ll have them in the club resource centre. We’ll also be putting them on our YouTube Channel, and of course on the Facebook page, so hopefully they’ll be easy for you to find what you need.

What would you like to learn from a conversation

So whilst I’ve started learning and having amazing conversations with fantastic people, we’d like to hear what you would like to learn from a conversation with….Who? Who would you like to have a conversation with?

If we can all have more conversations with each other, we’re bound to understand each other better, learn more, and help each other more aren’t we, and grow all areas of our business too?

That’s a dream I’m having at the moment.

Join our conversations & let’s grow together. A full list of our events is here on our Events Page.

 

, , , , ,

Do you love your business?

Do you love your business? I do now, but it hasn’t always been like that.

All the businesses I’ve run have come from passions I’ve had, and I’ve loved them all. However, times change, life happens, and I know I’ve fallen out of love with some of these over time.

My difficulty, in business, came when it took me too long to recognise I know longer loved what I was doing, and I held on to the business for longer than was good for me. The business suffered.

The hardest time for me, was when I was holding on to a wonderful business I set up, bras4mums, when I’d stopping loving it. I loved the results it gave it’s customers, but my focus had been taken away onto other aspects of my life, and I knew I wasn’t giving it the attention it deserved.

As soon as I made the decision to let the business go, by selling it to someone who loves it, the weight lifted off my shoulders, my mind became clear, and I was able to focus on my other work and businesses. I started flying again, and loving everything I did.

How do you know if you love what you do?

do you love your businessI often get asked this. For some people, it’s obvious. They know as soon as they wake up in the morning what they’re setting out to achieve, and the small step they’re taking that day to work towards it. For others, it creeps up on you, like it did for me.

It may be that you love working with customers, or creating the product, but you don’t like all the pfaff that goes with running the business. Or, you love working from home and the flexibility it gives you, but you don’t like worrying about when you’re going to get paid next.

When I’m asked this, I get people to simply stop, and sit quietly. I ask them questions, and we explore together what they love, and what they could easily never do ever again. They work through the different ideas about:

  • why did you first start your business?
  • do you love your business?
  • what do you like least about running a business?
  • if you didn’t have to work for money, what would you do?
  • what’s the most important thing in the world to you?

These questions generally spark ideas, or questions that they have been hiding from themselves about what they love, and what’s not so great at the moment.

What’s the difference between love your business & love your family?

Well for me, I knew that when bras4mums came to life, it was a new baby in our family. It wasn’t just that this business was born 6 months after my youngest son was born. It grew with us as a family. Whilst I didn’t have to feed and clothe it, if I didn’t love and nuture it, it wouldn’t sustain it’s own life.

I know some business owners keep their business life quite separate from their family life. There’s nothing wrong with that. But as business owners we are who we are, and bring ourselves to our business. Does that separation mean that this business isn’t part of a nuturing family structure? (maybe that’s a question for another day).

I believe you can love your business with passion, in the same way you love your family. Your business can give you back enough love and support, from customers, and the joy you bring others through products and services, to warrant it’s “seat at the table”.

Now your family may disagree with the amount of time you’re spending on your business, and say, “you love that business more than you love us”. Is that how it feels sometimes? Just think of a poorly child. How much time will you spend with the child to nurse them back to health? Will you do the same with your business?

“I’m not sure I love my business enough”

Enough for what? The time away from the family? Time v Income equation? Effort v Reward?

Go back to the questions I ask my clients. Why are you in business? What’s important to you?

You need to be really clear about what you’re doing with your time, and what you want to achieve. Not just in your business, with your time. We only have so much of it, and we know we want to make the most of what we have.

Find Your Why

I’ve been learning a lot about myself these past few years. I felt there was something missing, or I’d missed something vital. It was almost like I knew I hadn’t found my “thing”. When I read Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” book last year, everything started making sense again.

I undertook my own Find Your Why session and was amazed at what I learnt about myself, and it was almost like a game of Ker-plunk, where everything starts falling into place. Even though I loved what I was doing, I didn’t know why I was doing it. Once I learnt why all these different things were important to me, I started doing more of each of them, and loving them all even more.

Do you love your business?

If you answer YES straight away, that’s fantastic. I’d love to interview you for our #inconversationwith series, so please get in touch.

If you’re wavering, and saying, something like, “well, I think so”, or, “I love this part of it”, or, “I used to love it”, then maybe it’s time to review what you love doing. There’s nothing wrong with reviewing your business (we should do it regularly anyway), and your role within it.

Let’s book a Find Your Why session together, and really get to why you love your business, (or parts of it), so you can move forward with confidence to grow yourself and your business.

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a ‘Find Your Why’ session with TJ. This session is really worth your time for both your business and personal life. In fact what TJ will get to, is what your personal strengths and traits are and how these can be incorporated into a successful business. TJ is an excellent listener, and this is essential to this session. You need to be prepared to ‘go deep,’ tell the stories you really want to tell and watch TJ bring out the main themes and characteristics to help you bring your core values into your work life.
If you feel like you want your business to be a reflection of you, I would advise you invest in the time with TJ and watch how things develop. We have lots of future plans now and I can’t wait to see how these unfold. Finding your ‘why’ with TJ will help motivate and inspire you.

Angie Webb, Glenbreck Health Ltd

N.B. The Find Your Why session is a bonus in our Confident Business Owner programme, for extra value.

, , , ,

What to do when you feel lonely

It’s hard enough being a business owner sometimes, but when you feel lonely, life can feel so much harder.

Loneliness is becoming an ever present topic of conversation. We’re used to loneliness being talked about with our aging population. But loneliness in business owners? Really?

Unfortunately, the answer is “yes”.

At work, loneliness reduces task performance, limits creativity, and impairs other aspects of executive function such as reasoning and decision making. For our health and our work, it is imperative that we address the loneliness epidemic quickly.

Vivek H. Murthy, Harvard Business Review

There’s all sorts of research available, to show that loneliness is an increasing problem, and there’s much concern about all communities about what to do when you feel lonely.

Business owners aren’t immune to feeling lonely

As a business owner, you know how lonely it can be sometimes. Your partner doesn’t understand why you’re working so hard. Your family don’t understand why you need to work when they want you to be with them. Your friends don’t understand that you can’t go out with them tonight as you’ve just got to get this customer order finished. You have no-one to talk to, or share with.

There’s no-one in your usual support team who you think will understand what you’re going through, or the difficulties your facing of making decisions. So, you look inwards to the inner strength you have as a business owner, (it feels like you’ve got a super power doesn’t it?).

You think that running your own business is better than working for someone else, but then you find that you’ve no-one to talk to when you make a brew. There’s no-one to tell what a fantastic weekend you had when you ‘log on’ for work. It can be quite isolating.

I know this feeling only too well. I have some great friends, and lovely supporters, but I’ve had times where I felt so lonely in what I was doing. I felt I had to do “this thing” all by myself. I felt that no-one understood. For me, this period of my life started a period of depression, which took a while to come out of.

Find someone to listen to you when you feel lonely

what to do when you feel lonelyI’ve learnt so much about the power of listening in the last couple of years. It’s a powerful tool for all of us, in every walk of life. For business owners it’s even more important, that it’s something simple you can do when you feel lonely.

Your friends, family, partner, network colleagues, and strangers don’t need to understand your situation. But they can just listen to you. They don’t need to advise, or find solutions for you. In fact, that’s not what you need. You just need to share, with someone, what’s on your mind. You have all the answers in yourself, and by sharing what’s on your mind, you’ll find that it becomes clearer to you what your next steps are.

There are some listening services springing up all over the country now, as more people recognise that listening is way of helping who feel lonely and isolated. I’m a trained listener, and have helped set up a listening service in Preston, near where I live. It’s been so valuable to help those who are lonely, or don’t know where to turn.

Ensure your support network is working for you

Whatever your business, or where you’re based, your support network is important to you. Not only to support you grow your business, but to be there for you when you feel lonely.

Our support network, as business owners, may well be a network group, (online or offline), who understand our business, and our needs. It may be a co-working space we enjoy being in, which offers support to us in not being alone in our day to day work. However we see many business owners sticking with something that isn’t working for them, and that’s making them feel even more lonely in their work.

One step from today is to review who and how you’re being supported in your network. Is it working for you? Do you feel lonely as a business owner? Could you improve your support network in some way? What would that be?

This isn’t about money either. It’s not about how many networks can you be part of, so you don’t feel lonely! It’s about being with the people you feel comfortable with, who can listen to you, and you can listen to them when they need it. You may have friends and family that can do this for you. Or you may have an online group you feel comfortable with, (but there’s nothing better than talking out loud to help you – it does something wonderful in your brain. We need that connection).

Review what you’ve currently got in place, and be honest with yourself if this is serving you and your business at the moment. It’s fine to change support groups as our business grows. Think of it as a child growing up – they need different support as they grow too.

We’re hearing that business owners are finding the Business Cheerleading Club a comfortable place to get support, and be listened to. That’s fantastic, and we’re delighted to be able to offer this place where you’re listened to, you can share your anxieties and successes, and you’ll be understood for who you are, and what you do.

We hope it’s not just a place to go when you feel lonely, but for whole business support.

I also offer listening sessions to business owners, as I know how much this can help. Yes I can coach you, but sometimes, you just need someone to listen to you. Whatever support you need, don’t be lonely. Ask for help. We can’t help you unless we know, (just like your friends would tell you!).

What do you do when you feel lonely at work?

Book a listening and/or coaching session with Tracey-Jane: