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Opinion: Navigating the isolation of business ownership

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Owning a business means financial independence, creative expression, being your own boss and professional fulfillment, right? This may be the romantic version of business ownership, but behind the scenes, it can feel like you are alone on an island.

While these aspects are undoubtedly appealing, many aspiring entrepreneurs need to anticipate the loneliness that can accompany business ownership. Behind the curtain of decision-making, risk-taking, client interactions and financial responsibilities, there can be a silent struggle that entrepreneurs grapple with – the isolation that comes with the territory.

Here are seven topics that cover the isolation experience; maybe you can relate:

  1. Burden. While it may take a great team of people contributing excellent ideas to make a business work, the burden of responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the business owner, from startup to its execution, growth, scale and beyond. At the end of the day, that’s where the risk lies. High-level decision-making, problem-solving and strategizing all become solitary endeavors as the entrepreneur faces the complexities of the business landscape.
  2. Support. Business owners often feel they need more support. It’s not that those close to you don’t want to help or encourage you, because they usually do. Their heart may be in the right place, but truly understanding the intricacies of running a business requires a unique perspective. It’s hard for people who don’t have kids to help you with parenting, right? Even with employees, the conversations can only go so far. This can make friendships with others inside the organization difficult. Working through daily business challenges on your own can be a lonely experience, making it even more important to connect with others who share similar experiences.
  3. Decisions. Owners regularly make tough decisions that may not be popular and are often gut-wrenching on a personal level. Those decisions often don’t make sense to employees, friends or family without highly detailed and often confidential information about the situation. No one will have the owner’s visibility because it’s so unique.
  4. Struggles. Business owners are expected to project an image of confidence and resilience regardless of the challenges they or the business face. They sometimes find themselves cheerleading all day and facing reality at night. Consequently, entrepreneurs may feel compelled to keep their struggles hidden.
  5. Responsibility. Successful entrepreneurs live and breathe their businesses and can’t just walk away at the end of the day. This never-ending sense of responsibility can lead to a feeling of being constantly on call, with no actual separation between work and personal life. This perpetual state of alertness contributes to a sense of isolation, as entrepreneurs find it challenging to disconnect and engage in activities that nurture their well-being.
  6. Uncertainty. The new business environment we find ourselves in since COVID-19 puts entrepreneurs in a constant state of uncertainty and risk. The unpredictable nature of business ownership means the entrepreneur must navigate uncharted waters, facing uncertainties that can be difficult to discuss with others.
  7. Solutions. The good news is that relief might be found by developing a small, inside leadership group to help you navigate the challenges. Building a network of fellow entrepreneurs, joining industry groups, attending conferences and seeking mentorship can provide much-needed support. At our enterprise, we focus on the power of partnership that makes daily challenges easier with someone who is equally yoked and shares in the same goals. It makes navigating the emotional challenges of running a business much more manageable.

At the end of the day, owning a business is one of the most noble things one can do. It’s an undoubtedly rewarding endeavor, but for some, it comes with a unique set of emotional challenges that can make you feel like you’re all alone. By sharing experiences and seeking connection, entrepreneurs can help break the silence surrounding the loneliness of business ownership and build a stronger, more resilient foundation for success.

Donnie Brawner is CEO and owner of Paragon 360 and Paragon Fabrication. He can be reached at dbrawner@paragon360.com.

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