Self-employed and Feeling isolated?
Like-minded people can be genuinely supportive and open-hearted. Who knew? Co-founder of audreyonline.co.uk Marina Gask does now.
Have you decided to go it alone after being made redundant? Making a success of your business or work is hard if you’re a team of one. Some days this can really do your head in. You’re making decisions on your own. You’re brainstorming ideas and keeping yourself motivated, day in day out. Grappling with problems and challenges without a sounding board. Fretting about your lack of work and wondering where the next contract will come from and why your social media strategy is reaping zero rewards. Doing work you love – or just doing something that happens to pay the bills and will do for now – isn’t always enough. You have good days of course but the bad ones can be ultra-bad, even scar
A team of one
This is especially hard if you’re relatively new to self-employment. Of course in some ways it can be thrilling to be free and self-sufficient, but if you’ve worked in a team in the past, being out on your own can be isolating. The team thing has its downsides (the bitching, the rivalries, the endless ruddy meetings) but it’s hard not to miss the buzz and natter of being around other people and bouncing ideas around (not to mention the regular pay cheque). Never more so than this year, when the opportunities to meet up with colleagues and contacts has been curtailed.
But being self-employed does not mean you have to go it totally alone. Far from it. It’s just a matter of finding a community, a tribe you can gel with. Being in touch with people like you and sharing advice, best practice, tips and contacts can be a total game-changer. It can take you from desolately isolated to decidedly well-connected.
When I was an employee I was always pretty dubious about networking. It wasn’t until I started actually doing it – when I HAD TO do it – that I realised that some people can be genuinely supportive and open-hearted. It was something I just wasn’t used to, having often been in work environments where it’s really hard to know who to trust. I’ve worked with queen bees, with people who view each other as rivals and will happily stab you in the back or make you feel small if they have something to gain, or whose insecurity about their own job situation and status could lead to distinctly unkind behaviour. Environments where sneering and gossip is rife, and cliqueiness a giant rock to circumnavigate in the road to success. This may be an environment you’re familiar with.
But ten years ago I joined a business club called Sister Snog and experienced a very different environment. The whole ethos is about connection, sharing and mutual support. Members are established businesswomen who come from a wide variety of different sectors, from lawyers to photographers, from accountants to travel consultants, and we all put time and effort into referring contacts, sharing each other’s content, giving advice and mutually singing praises. We lift each other up.
It’s been something of a revelation to discover how great life can be when everyone helps each other out. You get way more pleasure in your work day, and you get the buzz of feeling like you’re all on a team whose members look out for each other. What’s really thrilling is seeing people you’ve put in touch with each other going on to form fruitful relationships. Even those who work in the same sector can be supportive of each other, because there is enough work to go around if you all focus on your particular specialism or micro-niche.
Meeting Faye, the other half of Team Audrey, was the other game changer for me. Also a member of Sister Snog, once we started sharing ideas and realising we had a mutual vision, it was exciting to realise this journey together. And that’s how, in September 2018, we came to launch Audreyonline.co.uk, a platform for midlife women who need a fresh start.
Now we’ve launched the Audrey Members’ Club and the connections forming between the women who join are a powerful thing. Because as well as the group coaching, the live Q&As and online events, through our Audrey Circles there’s the chance to find likeminded women to bounce ideas off and develop relationships that could last years. A whole variety of women in totally different situations, experiencing their own challenges and new beginnings. We’re building a tribe and community of women with compatible goals who genuinely want to support each other, whatever they are going through, whether work, business or life-related.
If you work at making good connections, who knows where it could lead? Life gets better when we lift each other up. To find out more go to Audrey Members’ Club.