Why is entrepreneurship considered a lonely journey? Co-creation is fixing it.

We have a culture that praises successful entrepreneurs and gives them the status of gods. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates – they are the examples our society has chosen to follow and look up to. To us, it seems like a fairytale – they’ve come up with “unicorn” products and easily found their place under the sun.

However, entrepreneurship is not such a bliss. At least not before your product finally gets noticed. Entrepreneurs pay a high psychological price to get where they are now. Many of them have suffered anxiety moments when it seemed that everything was on the edge.

Entrepreneurship usually means going through that long journey all alone.

This fact stopped being a taboo just a few years ago.

Earlier, entrepreneurs were talking about how to stay motivated, without the courage to show vulnerability. Now, many of them have started speaking about the depression and anxiety they’ve suffered, encouraging others to ask for help.

Research also confirms the loneliness of entrepreneurship. According to a Harvard Business Review article, half of the CEOs from the CEO Snapshot Survey are suffering from loneliness, and 70% of those who feel lonely believe that it affects their performance.

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Moreover, the Self-Employment Review by Julie Deane states isolation as one of the biggest burdens that self-employment brings. In this report, 30% of the respondents’ name isolation as one of their problems.

The pressure of decision making and making a company survive, combined with the feeling you’re all alone in it, can result in serious problems. A University of California research claims that one in three entrepreneurs live with depression. This number could be even higher if we know that the mental health topic still isn’t completely free from the chains of taboo.

Being at the top is not so easy.

The bigger the position, the bigger the responsibility. And this comes with less time for maintaining social relationships.

However, it doesn’t have to be that hard. There are many ways for entrepreneurs to release themselves from the pressure and maintain healthy social relationships.

Aside from networking, joining like-minded communities, and finding business partners, there is one other way that hasn’t been such a mainstream when it comes to fighting loneliness – co-creation.

Co-creation is a business model that allows companies to create new ideas or products together with their customers.

This means that entrepreneurs don’t have to be alone in making decisions – they can do it together with their users. Getting insight into how other people think can open new perspectives for entrepreneurs and make the business life exciting again.

Seeing how users get passionate about your product can bring the motivation back as a part of all aspects of your daily routine. Realising that you’re actually solving a problem for other people can be pretty inspiring. At the same time, you will get to meet new people and create new social relationships.

Moreover, a better relationship with your users can result in higher customer retention. Customers have never had more choices than now.

Involving them in the creative process of your company can allow you to meet their needs and preferences better. Moreover, the feeling that they are a part of the process can allow them to identify themselves with your brand.

So, what are the benefits of co-creation?

Getting better market insights. Co-creation can eliminate traditional market research because it gives far more precise information. This technique of innovation in your company can challenge robust discussions for topics your customers are passionate about. Which will give you deeper insights into how they are feeling than conducting a simple online survey.

The Faculty of Behavioural Science of the University of Twente proved that users feel more positive about a brand when they participate in its product creation.

Saving money. The insights you get from co-creation will make you understand what is it that customers want and expect from your product. This means that you won’t be spending money on expensive features that might not work and you won’t struggle with testing too much. The sessions of co-creation will give you the features your product is missing.

Being released from the pressure of the decision-making process. Including customers in the creation of your product means you won’t be alone in making the decisions anymore. Of course, you’ll still have the last word, but you’ll be released from the pressure of whether they’ll like it or not.

Better product design. Co-creation will help you understand how important user-centred design is. Basically, you want to solve a problem for a group of people. Involving them in the problem-solving process will give you a better understanding of the problem and show you the best way to solve it.

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What types of co-creation can you use?

There are many ways to engage the crowd in the product creation process. Here are the two most effective ones:

Crowdsourcing. Events like hackathons and makeathons can engage the crowd. They can give you fresh ideas about how your product should look like.

Design thinking. An approach that can help you understand the needs of your customers and use them to create more user-friendly products.

No matter what approach you use, co-creation is a way to collect the ideas, visions, and opinions of your customers in a way that can help you grow your business and release you from the entrepreneurship loneliness.

Involving other people in the process can make you realise that there are people who understand the problem you’re trying to solve and give you fresh perspectives for the solution. The outcome will always bring value to both you and your customers.

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