Jan 21, 2014

The lonely entrepreneur

I've been mulling over the idea that entrepreneurship is lonely ever since reading this reflection by Meredith Fineman. By definition, an entrepreneur builds something from nothing, i.e. alone. Fineman writes:
"There is an important amount of alone time and loneliness that is necessary for creation. . . . It's also learning how to disconnect, or to unplug from all that is going on around you in order to focus on what you need, what your company needs, and where you want to go."
On the other hand, being alone can be lonely!

I have some experience forging a new path alone. I'm a Jersey girl, but I attended the University of Alabama for college. Not only was I a Yankee in the Deep South, but sorority rush occurred two weeks before classes started. I arrived to find those crucial freshman-year friendships had already formed without me. Happily, I found a group of like-minded friends in UA's rowing team, and I was able to transfer to Johns Hopkins University after my sophomore year.

In my new home-city, Philadelphia, I've been able to meet like-minded people by getting involved in the local startup/tech/coworking community. Although some entrepreneurs attend these events for the networking (cough, looking at you, MBA student who only attends founders' clubs when s/he needs to recruit a developer), it's been beneficial for me to throw away the business agenda in favor of making real connections. I also reserve time each day for personal hobbies, like running with friends. According to Dr. Michael Ungar, co-director of the Resilience Research Center at Dalhousie University, "resilient people often have a number of areas from which they get their sense of self-worth."

There's no getting around being alone as an entrepreneur, but being alone isn't lonely if you take time to build relationships and work on personal projects you love.

-Paige