Commercial Loneliness is Not Cool! (and what to do about it if you are a ‘Lonelypreneur’) This week’s #CoffeewithColm Episode 185

I love it when people take the time to comment on my blogs and posts; it means they mean something to somebody, and that means something to me. Happens lots thankfully, but every now and then someone drops a gem into the conversation.

‘Commercial Loneliness is Not Cool’ is one such gem and we should all thank David O’Neill (link at the end) for offering it out there for us to consider.

What a phrase! ‘Commercial Loneliness is Not Cool’. Not cool for sure, but it is real and it is rampant.

I understand that almost 99% of businesses in Ireland are of the SME variety, ie from 1 to 150 employees. Not having the exact statistics to hand as I pen this, I suggest the majority of those are much much smaller than the 150 upper threshold – we are talking the man with the van. the lady with the flower shop, the local hairdresser, barber, beauty salon owner, corner cafe, etc – you can see them in your minds eye, they are everywhere. Perhaps you are one? Perhaps you own a business or perhaps your business owns you?

The problem that David is speaking about, and as a financial consultant he sees it all the time with his clients, is where, to the outer world the lonleypreneur (alone – or a lone – entrepreneur), puts on a brave face, grits her teeth into a smile shape and heads out the door for another day in the trenches.

What started out as a dream way back when, has turned into a recurring nightmare; the freedom you thought you’d get going solo by being your own boss, has been replaced by the reality that you are a prisoner to the business; in fact you don’t own a business, it owns you. It’s a tragedy, worthy of a soap opera, that plays out every day in every village, town and city in the world.

And part of the problem is, it doesn’t get spoken about.

To find out why it exists and more importantly what you can do about it if you are a sufferer, watch the six-minute video, listen to the six-minute podcast, or read on below…

Ask any business owner ‘How’s biz?’ and you’ll invariably hear a response like ‘Great’, ‘Flyin’ it’, ‘Flat out’ but I fear many are not being truthful perhaps even with themselves. The reality for many businesses is that they are bumping along with no consistency or predictability built in. Effectively the business, and the owner by extension are existing hand to mouth.

This may be fine for a while, indeed in lots of cases maybe a long while. but the problem is, the owner can’t take the foot off the gas; if they do, the whole deck of cards may collapse. The lonelypreneur must keep running like a hamster on a wheel, constantly moving, making exactly zero progress.

They can’t tell anybody either – God forbid a crack might appear in the facade – “business is great, flyin’ it, flat out”

Robert Kiyosaki explains why when you understand the lessons in his Rich Dad series of books, in particular The Cashflow Quadrant, where he explains the four characters in the world of commerce:

  1. Employee
  2. Self-employed or Small Business
  3. Business Owner
  4. Investor

Though not mutually exclusive in that you and I could for example work a job (employee), invest in stocks and shares or real estate in our spare time and be slef-employed as a DJ on the weekends, they are, each of them, worlds apart in terms of the skill sets and knowledge required for success.

So, one of the reasons the lonelypreneur is in fact lonely is because he/she is surrounded by people who don’t understand their drive, their vision – we get questions all the time, like “Why don’t you just give it up? Why don’t you just take the safe option, get a 9 to 5, be like ‘Johnny’ up the road, be like normal people.’

This advice, grating as it may appear to the entrepreneur is offered (usually) with love from people, family and friends who don’t like to see you hurting. But the reality is, if they have been an employee all their lives, and are the product of a long line of employees, they simply do not, and cannot, understand – your language is foreign to them.

So lonelypreneurs lie to their bank manager, their accountant, their spouse, their kids, the neighbours (especially) and of course themselves.

They risk burn out. They risk everything.

David is right, Commercial Loneliness is Not Cool.

So. What to do?

Talk. Open up. Find a trusted friend, not your brother in law who has an opinion on everything but has never risked anything, no, not him, find a trusted friend who has trodden the entrepreneur path and is further down the track. ONLY THEY can help. And they are willing to help.

“How do you know that, Colm?” Because I ask them all the time.

We entrepreneurs love and understand entrepreneurs. We love and admire triers. We applaud guts and innovation and bravery and so whenever anyone asks for help, they usually get it.

A problem shared is a problem halved.

No, Commercial Loneliness is Not Cool, but is also not necessary.

Find someone you admire and ask to meet them for a coffee, tell them the truth, in other words tell yourself the truth with them listening; you’ll be amazed at how much lighter you will feel. Find a network, a tribe, a family that you feel safe in and stay connected to it, open up, talk, listen, learn, teach, grow.

I guarantee you will benefit, so will everyone you meet there, and collectively your business will too.

Your business can never outgrow you.

In conclusion, I find the timing of David’s comment coming into my orbit really interesting because Pádraic O’Máille (The Smácht Guy) and Yours Truly have just established a new business, specifically aimed at helping the lonelypreneur, – OurBoard – is launching mid September.

Below is a snippet explaining the concept… (link to more at the end)

The idea is simple really. Despite being incredibly rewarding, the Entrepreneurial path is oftentimes lonely and more often than not family and friends don’t understand our drive.

That’s where OurBoard comes in.

OurBoard is, well, a … Board. It is a coming together of 6 to 8 SME Business Owners over a 12-week prescribed program (think a semester in college) expertly led by O’Brien and O’Maille initially, to help each participant gain absolute clarity around what they are doing, why they are doing it and where they want to take it.

We didn’t realize it as we set to establish it, but OurBoard is ‘Tackling Commercial Loneliness’

Regardless of whether you join OurBoard or find another tribe, connect with some group of like minded people, because as David O’Neill tells us, Commercial Loneliness is Not Cool.

And thank you, dear reader for thinking with me.

Yours truly,


Watch | Listen | Read | Think | Act


Check out OurBoard here

Meet David O’Neill here.

Did you enjoy that? Fancy a sip of some of my recent “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:

  • What if, at the end of each day, Life were to ask, “Would you like to save the changes?” – click here.
  • What Is Your Destiny? (for was your DNA differs from every other person on the planet; so does your destiny – click here.
  • Money is Time (or the fascinating link between your front lawn and a luxury watch) – click here.

HIRE ME TO SPEAK. Consider me speaking at your event, launch, awards, or as your after-dinner keynote. Find out more here.

WORK WITH ME OR THE COBM | SOUNDING BOARD TEAM. Need help with your business? Check out the areas I and The Sounding Board of trusted experts can assist with. Find out more here.

FREE AUDIO BOOK. If would like a complimentary copy of my book “Feeding Johnny – How to Build a Business Despite the Roadblocks” in audio, narrated by yours truly so you get all the nuances, feel free to grab one here.

DEEP DIVE. If you would like to go deeper in your own personal journey, you can review the first step in my “12 Steps to Create the Life You Really Want” for FREE. Check it out here.

LINKEDIN. Perhaps the thing to do right now is simply to hook up professionally on LinkedIn – if that’s of interest, click here.

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2 Responses to “Commercial Loneliness is Not Cool! (and what to do about it if you are a ‘Lonelypreneur’) This week’s #CoffeewithColm Episode 185”
  1. Conor O Dwyer

    Execellent article, feels like I was actually telling my story or simply looking in the mirror.
    Self employment is great, own boss, no clock, set your own KPI’s, answer to nobody but yourself. . . Well kinda, assuming bank manager & tax man don’t count and it certainly can be a great place to be but you’re on your own and lonely and that’s not COOL.

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