Starting your own business can be a thrilling endeavour, filled with high hopes and positivity. Yet, amidst the excitement of building a new enterprise, many founders come face to face with an often-unspoken challenge: feeling lonely.

The path of entrepreneurship often begins with a vision to do something differently – a need to innovate, to think outside the box. Nevertheless, it is this willingness to push boundaries that can also bring with it a sense of disconnection from others. Many feel like they are stepping out on their own, and dealing with tough decisions, rejection, and maintaining a professional image for both employees and investors can make it hard to admit when you are struggling.

The Importance of Finding Your Community

Loneliness among entrepreneurs is not such an uncommon thing, and it can have lasting effects on people’s wellbeing and decisions to continue with entrepreneurship. Evidence has shown that loneliness can have a significant impact on our long-term wellbeing, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and wider physical health concerns. This was particularly evident in the context of the pandemic as the transition to home working heightened feelings of loneliness for many – including those in leadership roles.

Ensuring founders remain passionate about their businesses is also a growing issue when it comes to understanding the impact of loneliness. Recent research by Zhu et al. (2023) highlights the links between loneliness, entrepreneurial passion, and business exit intentions. The study found that high feelings of loneliness in entrepreneurs correlates strongly with reduced passion and an increased likelihood of entrepreneurs moving on from their businesses. This shows that accessing support systems to combat loneliness may not only be imperative for maintaining wellbeing, but it may also be crucial for ensuring that founders continue to pursue the growth of their companies.

Combatting Loneliness 

In recent years, people have started to recognize the importance of having systems in place to help founders and leaders navigate the pressures of running a business. As more focus has been placed on supporting wellbeing and mentoring early-stage enterprises, opportunities to connect with like-minded peers and build community networks have grown.

Networking is vital tool when building a support system as a founder. By creating relationships with other like-minded peers, you are able to learn from other people’s experiences, access new opportunities, and ask for advice to resolve any problems. However, networking doesn’t just offer practical benefits – it can also play an important role in fostering a sense of inclusion and unity among entrepreneurs, enabling them to navigate the ups and downs of starting a business.

As virtual technology has improved, getting involved in networking has never been easier. Many companies run virtual networking events to encourage founders to connect, and it can be simple to get started with social media groups and forums. But what should you do if you are looking to join an in-person community?

The Sussex Innovation Community

At Sussex Innovation, we recognise many of the unique challenges that are faced by founders. By joining our community of ambitious entrepreneurs, start-ups, and scale-ups, you become part of a network that offers more than just an office space. Our members – past and present – tell us that one of the biggest benefits they have felt is being surrounded by other people on the same journey:

Stuart Millson (CEO, Broker Compare): “Building my start-up business at Sussex Innovation Croydon has made a huge difference to my energy, confidence and growth as an entrepreneur.  I am surrounded by others on a similar path, experts to bounce ideas off, and flexible support resources such as top grads from Sussex University”

Brett Rust (CEO, 3D Printing Engineering): “The Centre’s a great environment to talk, exchange ideas and open up new opportunities – by connecting with the other businesses and academic networks here, we’ve launched some very exciting projects”

Ross Trigwell (CEO & Founder of The Learning & Development Book Club):As a business owner, to sit and focus on marketing, strategy, value proposition and have a day out of the business has been valuable. I’m definitely inspired, I’ve met a lot of great people with similar challenges and solutions

Our community offers expert support, strategic insight, and inspiration to help build impactful businesses. Through Sussex Innovation, members are able to access consultancy services and programmes tailored to their specific needs – a helping hand from our team to support new founders and entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of early business growth. Our team also runs regular networking events and socials, such as community breakfasts and socials, to encourage collaboration and partnerships between members.

Though we understand that we can’t be everywhere at once, our team is passionate about ensuring that founders and entrepreneurs always feel that they have support system to fall back on  – and being part of our community means you never have to face the challenges of entrepreneurship alone.

To find out more about joining the Sussex Innovation Community, get in touch here.