Working for yourself can be a lonely business. Becoming self-employed often means that you’re all of a sudden working alone, especially in the early days. This can be hard if you were used to having lots of people around to chat to, or even if you were home with the children and out socialising and meeting with other parents during the day but now sat working alone.

However, self-employment doesn’t have to be lonely. There are plenty of ways to get interaction with others and to find people who can support you in your business.

Here are our top 5 suggestions to beat loneliness when you’re self-employed:

1. Work somewhere social

Why not try working remotely, such as a local cafe, hotel lounge, co-working space, or even the local park. Depending on the type of business you have, even if you can’t do your main business remotely you could still do some of the paperwork or admin this way.

2. Networking online

There are loads of groups on social network platforms like Facebook, and LinkedIn which you can join to network with other people, either in your industry or with others who are also self-employed. These are great places to share experiences and to find information & support. There’s also a plethora of hashtags on Twitter where people regularly come together to network such as #bizhour, #womeninbiz, #wineoclock, or industry-specific hashtags such as #wellbeingwednesday.

3. Networking offline

Groups of people get together on a regular basis to share ideas, support each other and build contacts to ultimately find more customers. These can be general business networking events or industry-specific ones. Networking events vary enormously on how informal or formal they are so you might want to try different ones to see which suit you best. Start by talking to other self-employed people in your area to find out what’s on offer, or try a Google search or a site like Meetup.

4. Get a mentor

There are various schemes, on and offline, where you can get support from an experienced business person (called a mentor) to get some guidance for your business and to bounce ideas off.  You could approach someone that you already know and admire to see if they would consider mentoring you, or for something more formal take a look at Mentors Me. If you’re applying for funding or a business loan, some schemes also come with a mentor for a fixed period, for example, both The Prince’s Trust and Virgin StartUp do this.

5. Get an accountability partner

Without a manager sometimes it can be hard to get motivated or to push on with tasks which you’re putting off. With nobody to be accountable to, you could use a trusted friend, neighbour, family member or anyone you’ve met through networking (on or offline), or even your business mentor, to hold you to account and make sure you get things done.

This works really well if you can buddy up with somebody else who is also self-employed, that way you both understand the reality of being the only one in a business and can support each other, and give a good kick up the bum when needed.  You could check in daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly – by email, phone, Skype, Google hangout or even in person if you’re local to each other.