Running your own business is like passing your driving test; one minute you’ve got someone sat with you advising, guiding and offering support and the next you’re let loose on the road, completely alone and making all the decisions.
So, be prepared for working alone. Self-employment and starting up your business can be a very lonely place once the initial excitement has worn off. When you suddenly find yourself sat at your desk (in the back bedroom that you’ve converted into an office) waiting for the telephone to ring with your nice shiny laptop at the ready. It’s then you notice the lack of interaction, you’re alone, apart from speaking to any clients or suppliers you may have. There were times when I went many hours without speaking to anyone at all. Below are just three of the things that I believe helped me during those initial lonely times.
How to avoid feeling isolated when working alone
Get yourself into a routine
It took me a while to realise this one, but basically all you need to do is get yourself into some sort of a routine, just like you did when you worked for someone else. I know; the thought of getting up and then sitting around all day in your dressing gown can be appealing, but the novelty quickly wears off and I found I wasn’t very productive. So, get yourself up, have your breakfast and start work at the same time every day. Break for lunch and finish at the time you would normally. Sounds simple, or obvious, but it really does help.
Access a business support group
This is by far one of the best things you can ever do to avoid the isolation of working alone. Get yourself out there and meet lots of other like-minded business people who are in exactly the same boat as you. I joined one and it’s safe to say I think it actually changed my life! I met so many nice people, willing to help, offer advice, support and as a bonus refer me to potential clients. Creating this support network really helped me; no longer did I feel isolated and alone. I would meet these people on a regular basis and many became good friends.
You don’t have to join your local gym (although of course you could if you like) – simply get yourself out for a walk in your lunch break. That’s all I did; it gave me some valuable thinking time, got me away from my desk and definitely helped me feel refreshed for the rest of the day. Do yourself a favour, give yourself some thinking time, enjoy the fresh air and the
simple pleasure of just having a walk.
Running a business can be a great adventure, but it’s important you don’t neglect your own wellbeing and health. Being alone and feeling isolated isn’t good for you or your business. If it does start to feel like it’s becoming too much, talk about it. Either to your partner, friend, relative or maybe a trusted networking associate.
NETWORKING…do you look forward to events or do they make you feel anxious, uncomfortable, apprehensive and nervous?
How many of us are born networkers? I know I wasn’t, even in social situations I always found myself feeling awkward, unless of course the people I was with were actually friends or people I knew.
I was envious of other people who seemed to be more at ease, looked as though they were enjoying themselves and appeared really comfortable moving from person to person or moved from small group to small group introducing themselves. I didn’t feel I was particularly shy, but I’m sure it must be incredibly difficult if you are.
However, this all changed for me at least 15 years ago, when I had to venture for the first time into business networking! Thrown in at the deep end, starting my own business and having to become my own business developer!
I realised business networking is all about making and developing good relationships and simply having a conversation to help build a successful business. Yes, to do this you have to acquire and learn certain skills, it’s not about running around a room full of people ‘thrusting’ your business card into the hands of everyone you meet. It’s about getting to know the other person, it’s about sharing information and relationship building and this requires the right tools, approach and importantly frame of mind, mindset.
I’d be interested to know how you view networking? Do you find it daunting, does it make you uncomfortable entering a room full of strangers? Or are you a born socialiser/networker and never feel any apprehension or self-consciousness about walking into a room full of strangers?
Your new website has gone live which is excellent news! All the hard work you have put in to developing your website over the past couple of months has paid off. So, what happens next?
Your new website is striking, fully functioning and the onsite SEO is spot on, so what should you do next? Your instinct may be telling you to leave the site alone … it’s working perfectly, right? Wrong!
Not doing anything to your site after it launches is one of the biggest mistakes a website owner can make. All the time, money, sweat and tears invested in the creation of your new site cannot and should not go to waste. So, what should you do after your website launches?
We’ve compiled our top 3 tips, alongside useful websites that can help to grow your websites audience and increase popularity:
Tip #1: Test Your Site Independently
It is really important to test your website independent to your website developers. Although this may seem a little daunting there are 3 key sites you can use to do this:
Think with Google – This is a great tool to test how well your new website works on mobile phones and tablets. A mobile friendly site is more important than you may have even thought. Because, how often have you quickly googled something on your phone whilst sat in a café, on the train or in a queue at the supermarket? Mobiles make it easy for clients and competitors to view your website on the go.
Nibbler – Nibbler tests the overall usability of your website from accessibility, user experience, marketing, and how well the site is built. It is a full overview of the website which will highlight any issues that you may want to flag up to your website developers.
SEO Site Checkup – The SEO site tracker allows you to test how efficient your website is from a search engine perspective such as Google or Bing. There are lots of little tips and tricks that can be implemented into your website that makes people searching for your services find you. Another great benefit of this site is that it also allows you to compare your website against your competitors.
All of these tools are free to use and are really simple to use as the websites does all the hard work for you. Don’t just believe what your website developers tell you, test it yourself.
Tip #2: Check & Increase Your Visibility
Moz – Moz Local helps local search engines and new customers find your business online. Search engines like to see consistent data about your business. Moz Local is a great tool that pushes accurate location data about your business to all the major data aggregators and top-tier online directories, helps you close duplicate business listings, and lets you easily update your business listings. When your listings are correct and consistent online, new customers can easily discover your business.
Google My Business – Google My Business is a free and easy to use tool that allows businesses to easily manage their online presence across Google, including in local search results and maps. Google My Business allows you to present useful information such as opening times, contact details and appropriate images with Google when people search for your business. Also, as Google has over 1.2 billion unique users per month and is an amazing marketing opportunity for businesses, so it is really important to make sure you get all relevant information on there.
Facebook – Although Facebook may not be relevant for every industry and sector, a lot of businesses can thrive from having a presence on Facebook. However, it is important to set up your page correctly, in order for people to find you. Take time to create a page where people want to connect with you.
Tip #3: Plan for the Future
Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a free website analytics software service that allows you to track and report website traffic. If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed on your website then you need to get your developer to do so. In short Google Analytics not only tells you how many visitors your site has but it also tells you who those visitors; where they came from; what they are doing on your site; and why it matters to your goals – plus it gives you real-time data to watch visitors interact with your site. It allows you to truly understand your website and how you can develop your business.
Google Search Console – Google Search Console is a free service that lets you learn a great deal of information about your website and the people who visit it. You can use it to find out things like how many people are visiting your site and how they are finding it, whether more people are visiting your site on a mobile device or desktop computer, and which pages on your site are the most popular. It allows you to tailor offers or publish content targeting your main audience. Google Search Console is incredibly important for your business.
Set goals & targets for your website – It is important to set goals and targets for your business that support where you want to take the business in the future. Make clear and realists plans for the development of your business in measurable chunks.
Remember that your new website is only the beginning. The worst thing you can do after your site launches is sit back, relax and wait for visitors to come to you. Put in a little work building your site’s presence and the rewards will be great! All of this can be a little daunting at first, but once you begin to understand it, it can make a huge difference to your website internet presence.
To learn even more about how to develop your website after launch check out Google’s Digital Garage. Here you can boost your digital knowledge to help grow your business.