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Flying Solo

Curb isolation anxiety.

You have everything to be excited about. You've freed yourself from a job that cramped your style. You've dreamed of being the one in charge, making things happen at your pace and on your terms--and now you're doing it!

So why do you feel down?

Isolation. Steady paychecks and free office supplies aren't the only things you'll miss about your old job in the early stages of your new business. You'll also find yourself longing for gossip at the water cooler, lunches with co-workers and all the other readily available opportunities for human interaction you took for granted at your old job.

But before you do anything rash (like giving up and getting another job), pull yourself together! Realize that when it comes to experiencing isolation, you're not alone. "[Isolation] is simply part of being an entrepreneur," says Jeffrey Tacca, 32, a veteran entrepreneur who, having started two businesses, knows a lot about the early, and often lonely, days of a start-up. "Going off and starting something yourself means you'll be on your own, at least for some time," says the founder and chairman of AtlanticWeb LLC (http://www.atlanticweb.com), an Atlanta company that helps businesses create and execute their Internet strategies, and RememberIt.com, a business that uses the Internet to remind users of important events.

Tacca, who started AtlanticWeb in 1996, describes those days alone as "somewhat depressing." But he never allowed those negative feelings of isolation to hold him back. Today, AtlanticWeb employs 20 people and generates annual sales of more than $1 million.

You, too, can overcome isolation to achieve your business dreams. Here are six tips:

1. Get out of the office! Attend a certain number of industry association meetings and other networking events each month. Active networking increases your business's exposure and opens doors to key business relationships.

2. Take charge of your schedule. Make time to develop relationships. If you don't balance work with social interaction, you could jeopardize the long-term success of your company.

3. Revisit your goals. Whenever you feel down, reflect on why you're in business in the first place. Remind yourself that you're living your dream--and that the "depression" you feel due to isolation is only temporary.

4. Visualize your past successes. "Think back to the times you succeeded in accomplishing the projects you wanted to accomplish," Tacca advises. "If you're able to maintain confidence in yourself, [your business idea] is going to seem more achievable. Past success breeds future success."

5. Surround yourself with people who have your best interests in mind. Tacca meets regularly with his board of advisors and is actively involved with the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (http://www.yeo.org), a worldwide association for business owners under 40 with sales of $1 million or more. The rule of thumb: Find people who are in similar situations but who aren't in direct competition with you.

6. Participate in altruistic activities. When you feel isolated, visit a nursing home or an organization that cares for underprivileged children. You'll feel energized from serving others and gain a healthy perspective on your own "problems."


Sean M. Lyden (seanlyden@mindspring.com) is the principal and senior writer of The Professional Writing Firm Inc., a Kennesaw, Georgia, company that specializes in ghostwriting articles. Lyden writes frequently on motivation, management and marketing issues.

What psychological obstacles to success are you trying to overcome? Tell us at bsumag@entrepreneurmag.com

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Sean Lyden is the CEO of Prestige Positioning (a service of The Professional Writing Firm Inc.), an Atlanta-based firm that "positions" clients as leading experts in their field-through ghost-written articles and books for publication. Clients include Morgan Stanley, IFG Securities, SunTrust Service Corp. and several professional advisory and management consulting firms nationwide.

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