©2002 Elena Fawkner
Like most people, when you think about what it would be like
to work from home, you probably think of the obvious
benefits such as working your own hours, not having to face
a stressful, tedious commute every day, actually seeing what
your garden looks like in daylight hours, not having to
answer to a boss, being home when your children are, working
in a comfortable environment and so on. These are, of
course, some of only many wonderful benefits of working from
Before long, though, you may begin to think back to your
previous life and realize you actually miss those umpteen
visitors who were constantly interrupting you when you were
trying to work, the walk in the park at lunchtime with your
best work-friend, drinks on Friday night after work, and
being able to run an idea past a colleague for instant,
Now, everything is just, well, quiet. And there's no-one
down the hall to go visit who's over age four. You find
yourself checking your email constantly, wanting to connect
to someone. You find yourself wishing the phone would ring.
You! The person who, when you worked in a job, cursed
constant telephone interruptions and thought voice- and
e-mail was the greatest invention since sliced bread.
Welcome to another reality of home-based business ... home
Here are some ways to avoid the isolation trap when running
a business out of your home:
1. Establish a Structure
Nothing is surer to reinforce feelings of isolation as time
that stretches as far as the eye can see like a straight,
one lane highway through a flat, barren landscape. Don't
start each day without a plan of what you intend to do. You
need to structure your time so that it is not some endlessly
vast terrain you must traverse alone. So write a to-do list,
preferably at the end of the day before, so that when your
work day starts you get productive straight away, before the
isolation blues have a chance to take hold.
2. Reach Out
When writing your to-do list, make sure you include at least
two things every day that require you to interact with
another person. Networking is a vital skill, whether you
work for someone else or for yourself. So make contacts
with people who can add value to your business, as well as
connecting you with the outside world.
Joining a professional group or club, attending seminars and
trade shows relevant to your business are all great ways to
meet new people who have similar interests and challenges.
Participate in the activities organized by these groups and
take a good supply of business cards with you.
3. Establish Joint Ventures
Another way to keep the isolation blues at bay is to joint
venture with other home-based business owners. Team up with
other businesses that offer complementary services to your
business. Not only will you send additional business each
other's way in the form of referrals, you're establishing
professional relationships with your joint venture partners.
4. Organize Your Own Functions
Once you've joined various associations and formed joint
venture partnerships, take the initiative and organize
functions that bring you all together. These could be
business-oriented networking sessions or purely social
get-togethers such as a barbeque in the local park. Either
way, you're forging a relationship with people in your new
arena, just as you did when you were working in a corporate
office. The only difference is that now you must take the
initiative to forge these relationships. These are not
people you are going to be seeing every day at the office.
5. Join a Gym
You are, of course, health conscious and physically active,
right? Of course you are! So, why not kill two birds with
one stone ... stay fit and meet new people. If you
establish a routine that allows you to be at the gym at the
same time every day, you will run into many of the same
people and get to know them.
6. Use the Internet
Making online friends is another way of staying connected
with the outside world. Be very disciplined here though.
It's way too easy to spend a lot of work time on social
email exchanges and in chat rooms. Don't fritter away your
time, but do seek out and maintain internet friendships.
7. Background Noise
Sometimes, it's only silence that reminds you you're alone.
If you come from a corporate environment, your workday was
punctuated by the constant background noise of telephones
ringing, other people's conversations, hysterical laughter
from the other end of the office and lunch trolley pages
over the intercom system. If you find absolute quiet
irksome, turn on the radio and have it playing in the
background while you work. Talk stations are good because
it's like having other people in the next room, but if you
find yourself becoming so engrossed with the talk topics
that you stop working and start listening, switch to a
There's no avoiding the fact that making the transition
from a corporate environment to a home-based business is
just that ... a transition. Most people will have to
grapple with the isolation monster in the early days of
their work-from-home career. But, as you can see, there
are many ways of keeping isolation and loneliness at bay
just by reaching out and forming new associations. Remember,
just because you work alone doesn't mean you have to go it
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ...
practical business ideas, opportunities and solutions for the
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