Navigating the Entrepreneurial Rollercoaster: Let’s Talk Loneliness

February 13, 2024

By Ali Stofflet, Director of Business Outreach & Growth

Alright, let’s get real about entrepreneurship. We’ve all heard the success stories and seen the glam, but there’s a side that’s not always in the spotlight: the loneliness that many business owners face. 

A recent study published in the Personnel Psychology Journal entitled, The Many Faces of Entrepreneurship Loneliness by Megan S. Cardon, found that while entrepreneurs are kicking it in the business world, their personal lives and mental health may be taking a hit. The study reveals that entrepreneurs are facing three types of isolation: Cognitive, Physical, and Social. The largest source of loneliness came from the immense sense of responsibility felt for the success of the business and the well-being of their employees. 

The following quote from the study explains this perfectly:

“It doesn’t have anything to do with your social life. It’s that you can’t confide in others at your company what problems you’re experiencing. You are the leader. You must show confidence and appear to know what you’re doing even if you are just as clueless as everyone else about what to do next. You can’t complain down the chain. Everyone looks to you for answers and leadership and sometimes it feels like you’re just winging it. There’s not that many people who have the same experiences as you so it’s sometimes hard to find others to talk about these issues with. You can have a great social life but still feel rather isolated at work just because there’s nobody else at your same level.”

Physical isolation is almost inherent for entrepreneurs because business owners often have or make less time for social engagement. They prioritize time on the business because they are often playing the part of multiple roles at their company. 

“Your friend circle gets very very small, it’s amazing how it’s the same for everyone,” reads another quote from the study dataset. “You get cut down to a few friends and go SUPER solo.”

The more heart and soul entrepreneurs pour into their ventures, the fewer close connections they tend to have. It’s like a bizarre trade-off: climb the ladder of success, but watch your social circle shrink. 

Have you ever heard of the “identity” and “structural holes” cocktail? It’s what makes entrepreneurs feel like they’re on an island. Their business identity is like a special club, making it hard to relate to those who haven’t walked in their shoes. Throw in those structural holes – gaps in their social networks – and boom, you’ve got a loneliness paradox. 

The paper cites a meta-analysis study that found loneliness was associated with a 26% risk of death and was more detrimental to overall health than smoking. The occupation of entrepreneurship is unique and increased stress levels, lack of resources, and mental health struggles, like isolation, lead to higher failure rates among businesses. 16% of the US workforce (31 million individuals) are entrepreneurs.  The failure of these businesses has a long-term impact on our economy and workforce. If we are going to support local businesses on the path to sustainable success, then we have to tackle the problem of loneliness. 

Here’s the good news: The study hints at a way out of this loneliness pit via local chambers and community involvement. It’s like finding your people. It’s a feeling of belonging, which is at the heart of the Arvada Chamber’s work for small businesses. By plugging into these networks, entrepreneurs can counteract the isolation blues.

Imagine a world where you’re not facing the business chaos alone. You’ve got a crew who gets it, who understands the late nights and the constant hustle. That’s the power of local chambers and community connections. It’s not just about business; it’s about having a support system that’s got your back, cheering you on through the highs and helping you weather the lows.

Loneliness is real, but so is the remedy: community. So, to all the business owners out there feeling the isolation squeeze, consider this your nudge to lean in and dive into community involvement. You never know – it might just be the missing piece in your entrepreneurial puzzle.


Through the B.O.L.D. 2026 initiative, the Arvada Chamber is dedicated to creating resources, programs, and events to increase direct support for entrepreneurs. To learn more about the resources available and how the Arvada Chamber can assist, please reach out to Ali Stofflet at ali@arvadachamber.org.

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