Although most days my little blog is a refuge for the hopeless romantics, creatives and wanderers of the world… Today, I want to get real with you. I am breaking down the walls and sharing one of my greatest struggles… The Loneliness of Entrepreneurship.
You see, winter in general is a challenging time for me. The lack of sunlight, the bitter cold, and switching gears from the constant adrenaline rush of shooting weddings to office work, taxes, and meetings is challenging. And no matter how hard I try to pretend that it doesn’t exist, this loneliness creeps in right around February and dares to drown me in a vast sea of self-doubt and comparison.
The truth is, I’ve been in business long enough to know that we all go through peaks and valleys. As Entrepreneurs, regardless of what we’re facing each week, when we charge forth into the world on Monday mornings we have to put on a brave face.
We carry on as if there aren’t tear stained cheeks and a mile long to-do list sitting on the other side of the computer screen. We share the polished highlights of our lives and sweep away the dusty, darkened fears that exist mere inches from the borders of our latest Instagram. And I do not believe it is because we’re too weak to face the realities that sit in front of us. But rather, because we are strong enough to recognize that building a business isn’t easy. We see the impossible odds staring us down and, as business owners, we decide that we’re going to march forward anyway. We refuse to quit.
So we wakeup, get dressed, put on a smile, and press onward in the hope of being courageous – without realizing that by struggling in silence, we perpetuate an unrealistic perception of entrepreneurial perfection… And other small business owners, going through the same challenges that we are, simply assume they are alone in their struggles. They see the decorated walls, perfectly packaged materials, and wonder if we have fairy-dust in our veins with a matching magic wand. And in an instant, our Entrepreneurial Bravery unintentionally becomes something detrimental.
And newcomers find themselves on a hamster wheel –
running exhaustingly in the pursuit of a reality that doesn’t even exist.
I have watched so many new photographers come through my doors for mentoring & embarrassingly admit their struggles as if I couldn’t possibly understand or haven’t endured them myself. And I simply take them by the shoulders and I tell them: You are not alone.
I have been where you are sitting right now and I have cried those same tears. I have felt inadequate. I have doubted my work. I have worried and struggled and fought with every ounce of my being to keep this business alive. There have been days where I wanted to quit, roll my hands into fists and pound away at the brand that I’ve built until it’s nothing but rubble. I’ve seen doors slammed in my face and in those early years, I wondered if new ones would ever open. It’s hard to see it now because I’ve come such a long way over the years, but I have been where you are… and believe me when I say that you don’t have to do this alone.
You see, we’re all in this together. Hundreds of thousands of big dreamers, risk takers, and ground shakers. Leadership doesn’t have to be lonely. It doesn’t have to mean going at it alone. We dare to believe that with our hands and in our minds, we can carve out a better future for ourselves and our clients. We have the audacity to take big risks and seek a life that revolves around our passion rather than a time-clock.
Sleepless nights, overdue emails, client cancellations and rapidly approaching deadlines… We’ve all been there. Each year brings another onslaught of challenging situations to navigate, but rest easy in knowing that you will get better at handling the bumps in the road.
The Power of Community + Overcoming Entrepreneurial Loneliness
Loneliness is best overcome by being a part of a community! And there are so many phenomenal groups out there for you to be a part of, both locally and nationally! Your first step is to see if there are groups in your area who meet regularly and ask to join! You can also check out larger communities like the ones I’ve listed below!
Communities for Photographers + Creatives:
>> Service Based Communities: Shoot & Share + Pursuit31
>> Educational + Inspirational Communities: Creative at Heart Conference
>> Networking Groups: We host Happy Hours Quarterly for Annapolis Wedding Professionals
And if you can’t find a community where you fit, don’t be afraid to create your own! Monthly coffee meetings are an amazing way to meet other business owners, share stories, and exchange ideas! This year, I’m looking forward to hosting a few “Editing Sessions” around the Annapolis Area where photographers can come with their laptops, edit together, and simply work side by side! (This is such an easy thing to start up in your own city too! Hosting my first editing session next month, be sure to join The Newsletter for more details!)
If you live in a more rural location or have a little one at home, consider planning monthly Virtual Meetings with friends over Skype or Google Hangout! You could set a repeating time and whoever is free can pop online for an hour to chat + brainstorm together.
Remember: Just because you have a home office, does not mean that you are required to work alone everyday.
One of the biggest causes of loneliness among Entrepreneurs originates from working from home. So find a local coffee shop that you love and setup camp one day a week. There are some mornings where I really need to hear the buzz of human conversation and I’m not afraid to pack up my laptop and drive a few miles down the road to work remotely!
Also, remember to take breaks throughout the day and create a work-life balance custom to your unique personal needs. A few weeks ago, I started going back to the gym every morning for an hour before the workday started. It centers my mind and prepares me to take on the day! I have friends who take breaks in the afternoon for prayer and meditation, which I think is a fantastic idea!
Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be a lonely place. And I genuinely believe that we can overcome so much if we simply work together.