Today’s entrepreneurs weigh in: Is entrepreneurship a lonely journey?

entrepreneurs organizationAt the core of Entrepreneurs’ Organization‘s mission is helping entrepreneurs achieve their full potential. And one of the most powerful ways to accomplish this is by encouraging valuable experience sharing. Insights and lessons from peers around the world is one of the key benefits of EO membership. 

When asked if entrepreneurship is lonely, EO members shared these thoughts. 

“There are things you can do to make sure you’re not alone”

Andrea Grisdale, founder and CEO at IC Bellagio and a member of EO Italy

Becoming part of the EO was one of the best decisions that I have ever made to make sure that I wasn’t alone.

The opportunity to meet personally (or virtually in 2020) with a group of trusted entrepreneurs who run a variety of businesses, to be able to share experiences, and to be able to learn from each other in a safe and trusted environment is second-to-none.

EO has given me so many educational opportunities that have been: (1) worth their weight in gold; and (2) perfect for spending time with people who are “in the same boat”.

“The entrepreneurial journey doesn’t need to be lonely”

Emma Welsh, founder at Emma & Tom’s and a member of EO Melbourne

I don’t believe the entrepreneurial journey needs to be lonely. In fact, I believe it to be the opposite.

One of my core aims in business is to build a fantastic team of players that I am constantly surrounded by, and that team needs a captain and a coach.

I find that the fulfillment of both captain and coach roles provides a level of connectedness with my business, and the people in my business.

“The stress amplified to the point that I could no longer laugh”

Keith Roberts, founder, author and speaker at OAKJournal, founder and creative director at Zenman, and a member of EO Colorado

The answer depends on the individual, their unique personality, and their approach to business.

Most of my closest friends are people that I met as clients, peers, or through my entrepreneurial journey.

The first 15 years was incredibly isolating. Not only did the struggles of entrepreneurship take away almost all of my free time, the stress I felt amplified to the point that I could no longer laugh.

Finding EO, my Forum, a global village of other entrepreneurs changed my life, and having intentionality has to the type of life I want to experience has changed my path from one of loneliness, to one of connection and joy.

“If life is lived not by accident but with intention, one can experience a life that is more profound, more intense, more rich, and one can experience a life that is deeply joyous and fulfilling”

Kym Huynh, founder at WeTeachMe and member of EO Melbourne

Business, in and of itself, is hard. In a study of 28 million businesses in the US, 96 percent fail before they reach the US$1M/year revenue turnover. Out of the 28 million businesses, 99.6 percent will fail before they reach the US$10M/year revenue turnover. That stark statistic illustrates the tide the entrepreneur wades against in their efforts to create a viable business.

Now let’s layer on the stresses and pressures that come with starting and scaling a business, and the time, relationship, and life sacrifices that is required. At one point in my journey, I had locked myself away in an upstairs bedroom whilst my friends celebrated a birthday downstairs. I recall thinking, “I need to finish onboarding this new customer,” and the feeling of wanting to isolate myself and being alone. When I reflect on this experience, I am not surprised that a common phrase I hear is “entrepreneurship is a lonely journey.”

Indeed, the life of an entrepreneur brings with it multiple demands:

  • physical
  • mental
  • psychological
  • emotional

All these demands need to be juggled evenly, and at all times. Is it therefore surprising that many find the path of entrepreneurship lonely?

In spite of this, I also believe that we have agency and that if life is lived not by accident but with intention, one can experience a life that is more profound, more intense, more rich, and one can experience a life that is deeply joyous and fulfilling.

The entrepreneurial journey was initially lonely for me, but is now filled with deep connections, life-changing friendships, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, lots of laughter, and lots of joy, and of most importance to me, endless opportunity to live a life that is aligned with my life goal of making a lasting and positive contribution to this world.

“Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, but it doesn’t need to be”

Namgyal Sherpa, managing director at Thamserku and a member of EO Nepal

When I first started my entrepreneurial journey, I was obsessed with the idea of success, and I had a hunger to get things done at any cost even if it meant I had to do the heavy lifting myself. I didn’t trust and didn’t have the confidence to delegate, which consequently left me micromanaging most of the work.

This unhealthy approach lead to burnout, and as I had ignored other aspects of my life that are important to me such as family and care of self, this unhealthy approach also lead to loneliness. Relationships were one of the most important things in life, and it starts with the relationship we have with ourselves.

I started meditating, reflecting, and learning from other like-minded people, and discovered that by having an understanding of who I am, and accepting who I am, I was able to understand and appreciate others. This alone has had a transformative effect in both my personal and professional life.

I now feel more connected to myself, my purpose, my family, and my team.

“95% of the population will never understand why we do it”

Raymond Chou, founder and CEO at Infront Consulting APAC and a member of EO Malaysia

Entrepreneurship can be both lonely and depressing; sometimes at the same time. It comprises of constant dark clouds and filled with daily heartbreak, and it is lonely because 95 percent of the population will never understand why we do it given all the pressures and stress that comes with it.

It can feel especially awful after you have had a particularly difficult day, and you come home and try your best to describe it to your loved ones only to be met with “stop doing it and get a job so you don’t have to suffer”.

Entrepreneurs are different; they do what they do for a purpose and for a higher vision, and any quest to realise the vision is filled with an army of challenges and sometimes well-intentioned people who try and stop them.

“I had a great group of people, and new friends, with me but none of my old friends where there”

Ron Lovett, founder and chief alignment officer at Connolly Owens, founder and chief community officer at Vida Living and a member of EO Atlantic Canada

The first time I heard the idea that “entrepreneurship is a lonely journey” was in my late twenties. I was running my security company and I had an Advisory Board. One of my Board Members—after our meeting—said, “Ron, I think you are going to do exceptionally well in business, but you will find that it can be very lonely journey.”

It wasn’t until my 30th birthday—when I organized a trip to Montreal, Canada–that this statement came to life for me. I had approximately 15 friends meet me, none of which were the friends that I had grown up with; most of the latter unfortunately could not afford the trip. Of course, I had a great group of people, and new friends, with me but I was sad that none of my old friends were there.

The feeling of loneliness has appeared multiple times during the journey, especially during very stressful times in business where I felt I had no one to lean on.

In 2007 I came across EO. Immediately after joining, I felt a sense of belonging. To be immersed, locally and internationally, with other business owners from different businesses, cultures, races, beliefs and experiences provided me with the support and push to learn and grow. I haven’t felt lonely since!

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

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