Your isolation as an entrepreneur is a danger to your mental health and to the success of your venture. This is especially so if you’re a lone entrepreneur without a team around you. I’ve been there. You stand, staring out into the foggy expanse of your startup with so many unknowns, riven by uncertainty, with no-one to talk to about your challenges.
Isolation is a danger to you because the stress of being solely responsible for your venture with few resources or support can leave you highly stressed. And, in your mind, you’re too busy to deal with it. You tough it out. But you are human and vulnerable; take care of yourself. See an excellent article in Inc on the issue of mental health and entrepreneurship. Also, Brad Feld, a successful entrepreneur and investor, has written powerfully of his struggle with depression.
Isolation is a danger to your venture because you need diverse inputs into your thinking. There is a danger of the “unknown knowns” that can trip you up. There are skills you don’t have. Most issues you face are not simple and you need to be able to talk them through and reflect before acting. As a sole entrepreneur, one strategy is to build a voluntary Advisory Board for input and expertise. See this HBR article on creating an Advisory Board.
One strategy you can pursue before all else is to seek out a community of similarly-focused entrepreneurs. There are many resources to support startup entrepreneurs, in fact so many that the options can be overwhelming.
First, find a community where you fit. For example, there are growing, vibrant communities of startup entrepreneurs like Startup Toronto, Startup York, CSI, NewMakeIt (Newmarket) or Enterprise Toronto. For all of our ability for remote communication, there is nothing like live, face-to-face sharing of experience with those who understand your situation because they share it.
As part of communityBUILD, we have begun work on creating a community where social entrepreneurs will fit and be inspired. I will be meeting this week with a group of social entrepreneurs who had applied for our Accelerator/Incubator program, the Social Venture Pipeline, to focus on the needs of such a community for social entrepreneurs in York Region. Stay tuned.
I believe that the success of communityBUILD in catalyzing a community of local social entrepreneurs supported by an ecosystem of resources will be the most impactful thing we can do to improving the success of social entrepreneurs.