FSB urges self-employed to network for mental health

Monday 2 October 2017

There are so many positives to being self-employed, such as the increased flexibility that comes with being your own boss. However, one concern many people have when they are thinking of becoming a freelancer is the isolation that could potentially come with it. Some people move from working in a busy office to being on their own during the week, which can be difficult.

This is something the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has noted, and the organisation has one main recommendation for entrepreneurs looking to avoid being on their own: networking events. As well as being good for making contacts and marketing yourself, they could also be the key to mental wellbeing.
This comes in the wake of several pieces of research indicating the need for freelancers to branch out and avoid isolation. The FSB found, for example, that isolation and working alone is one of the top three challenges of self-employment, with a study from Aldermore indicating that 39 per cent of people feel lonely after making the decision to work for themselves.

Networking is a great way to get in touch with people who are going through similar things. With 5.5 million people - a total of 15.1 per cent of the UK workforce - working for themselves, there are plenty of entrepreneurs looking for business contacts and events to attend to avoid loneliness.

Dave Stallon, the FSB’s commercial and operations director, said: "Being a small business owner can often be very lonely, with no-one to share the responsibility and no-one to talk to about worries or concerns. This can escalate into mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

"We’re urging small business owners and the self-employed to utilise business networking groups as a vehicle for connectivity to enhance their wellbeing. Networking also makes good business sense."

The FSB already has its own system of business networking, called FSB Connect, which is completely free. There are usually free networking events available in every UK city, as well as some paid ones. These can sometimes be worth attending if you can afford to, as they will usually be full of people with more concrete goals than usual.

Other options for freelancers feeling alone are co-working spaces, offering you a place to work alongside other people while still being your own boss. This could be the best option, if you can afford it, as it gives you all the positives of being in an office without having to be employed by a large company.


By Victoria McDonnell

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