The #GirlBoss movement and general focus on
female empowerment across the board has done a lot to champion the rise of
female entrepreneurs everywhere.
That being said, entrepreneurship is still by and large a man’s world. Female entrepreneurs have a lot of social pressures they have to deal with, and this is especially true for those duking it out on their own. Our post on Work-life Balance of Being a Mom, Wife, and Owning a Business points out that juggling all the tasks that come with adulting is hardly ever a walk in the park. You’re bound to face lots of challenges, perhaps even on a regular basis.
This is where professional networks come in.
Chances are, your first forays into solo entrepreneurship required a steep
learning curve. After all, working on your own requires you to be your own HR
team, marketing personnel, content creator, and so much more! These aren’t easy
shoes to fill. Entrepreneur
Magazine even states that burnout syndrome among entrepreneurs is a real phenomenon — one that could pose a
serious health risk. The article goes on to say that solo entrepreneurs are
particularly susceptible to burnout because they don’t have the emotional,
physical, or financial support that a typical employee has.
Networks are therefore important not just for business success, but for keeping yourself afloat in generally. At the end of the day, no one knows your struggles better than a fellow solo entrepreneur. This is especially true for those who are also working moms, wives, or any other role that society expects us women to fill.
Although there are lots of benefits to being your own boss,
loneliness is a huge drawback that shouldn’t be underestimated. Professional
networks are not only great for business operations, but also for providing a
supportive community for when times get tough. In fact, community building is a
key factor that co-working experts Industrious have observed when
it comes to the growth of alternative work spaces. Flexible membership options
also mean that working in these spaces aren’t as big an investment as they
seem. Just because you’re your own boss doesn’t mean you always have to work
alone. Workspaces are a great way to meet fellow solo entrepreneurs in a
supportive environment (aka without the pressure of acting on your best professional
behavior). Who knows, you might even find your next business partner, or at the
very least a work BFF.
However, women entrepreneurs in particular have to understand the importance of diversifying your networks. Research from the World Economic Forum suggests that women tend to be particularly disadvantaged when it comes to forming networks, precisely because of the male-dominated business world that was touched on in the beginning of this post. The key to combating this is to actively reach out and find fellow female solo entrepreneurs, whether through business events or support organizations.
While forming networks may feel like another professional task you need to do, the emotional support you get — not to mention the wider potential to advance your career — makes it well worth your time. If anything else, getting out there and forming your own support networks can add a new and exciting dimension to your typical routine.