Last Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Could Networking Help Self-Employed Deal with Mental Health Issues?

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As a self-employed business owner, life can sometimes be a solitary one spending days and weeks on end with little to no daily contact with other people in some roles. Now the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is urging the 5.5 million small business owners around the UK to make more use of networking groups to help deal with the mental health issues they can experience. Via their wellbeing in small business campaign, they hope to pass on useful advice to any sole trader or single entrepreneur who may be feeling isolated and are worried about their mental well-being. Feeling lonely and isolated can have a big bearing on mental health, according to charity Mind, who are backing the FSB campaign.

Working alone

According to recent figures, the number of people who are registered as self-employed now equates to over 15% of the UK workforce and this is a figure that continues to steadily rise. Research by the FSB has shown that among the top challenges for many self employed people are the isolation and working alone, this is according to 25% of those spoken with. In fact, as many as 39% of the self-employed have admitted to feeling lonely at some point or other since becoming their own boss.

According to Dave Stallon, commercial and operations director for the FSB, being a small business owner can be a very lonely occupation with no-one around on a day to day basis to share responsibility with and often no-one to voice concerns or worries to. Having to burden all business decisions on your shoulders can easily lead to mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.

Getting help

In order to deal with these problems or to stop them from occurring in the first place, the FSB are urging small business owners and the self-employed to make use of local and online networking groups as a way to connect with others for mental health reasons. As well as making good business sense, it is a great way to chat with others in the same position who may be having similar feelings and issues as yourself. Networking is a great way to not only help boost your business and raise awareness of your products or services, it can also help you to share your concerns and worries, and to help seek advice and guidance from more seasoned and experienced people who may have faced and resolved the same obstacles that you are facing.

Actively dealing with these issues before they become too much of a problem could save UK businesses as much as £8 billion a year as it is believed that one in four people suffer from mental health problems annually. The wellbeing campaign from the FSB includes a toolkit of creative and practical ideas to assist small business owners and the self-employed in looking after themselves. It includes everything from enhancing the air quality in the workspace to supporting employees with mental health problems.

As the number of people who become self-employed continues to grow in the UK, more people need to recognise the potential issues they may face when taking a leap into becoming their own boss. Although many people in employment spend years dreaming of ditching their 9 to 5 job and setting-up on their own, the reality of actually going from a busy office or work environment to one where you are completely alone can be a real shock to the system.

And while the high business rates and technological advances make working for yourself more logical in a digitally advanced age, you also need to remember to take care of yourself as an individual in addition to your role as your own business.

Setting up your network

Whether you are just forming a new business or you are already set up, but want to reach out and start networking, there are ways that you can try to start out with networking. On a local level you can begin by engaging with your local business community, this is often a key part of getting to know valuable people on your own doorstep.

Find your local Economic Development/Inward Investment team. Just about every city in the world will have an economic development team that are set up to help local businesses establish themselves and find the right networks of people to connect with.

If you are going from being a sole-trader to a registered limited company (LLC), there is help and support available to you from Your Company Formations that can help you with every step of the process so you don’t feel alone. Our invaluable support and guidance offered from our experienced team means that you can rely on us to legitimately register your company with Companies House and HMRC.

Take to the internet to look up local business networking groups and meetings. Going to local networking breakfast or lunch meetings will help you connect with lots of local small business owners. It is also a relaxed, friendly and social way to make new contacts without feeling too formal. These local meet ups can turn into regular social events too, as well as introducing you to new local talent for your business for when you are looking to expand your operation or collaborate with a partner.

Look out for your local Chamber of Commerce events and go along to attend. It may not be that you will want to attend every single event, but finding out which ones are the most effective and useful will be a good idea.

While you may not see networking as an essential part of your day to day business processes, you have to remember that taking a break to mix and mingle with other like-minded people can not only be good for the future of your business, it can have a positive effect in your mind and your mental health too.