Just because you’re “self-employed” or “in business for yourself” doesn’t mean you have to do it BY yourself. While there are certainly benefits to working alone (you always get to choose the Pandora station), it can be isolating at times. It’s always great to have others to bounce ideas off from or just vent about the struggles of being a business owner. Here are some ideas to keep you feeling connected.
Create your own advisory board of peers and mentors.
Advisory Board, Circle of Influence, whatever you call it, they are essential for running a successful business. It is impossible for any one person to know everything and you shouldn’t have to. Depending on your business, you might consider a consultant, bookkeeper, accountant, attorney, insurance professional, financial advisor, life coach and any number of others who could add value to your business. When selecting these people it’s important to figure out what types of things you might encounter that you may need some guidance with and then find a trusted resource in that field. Not everyone is going to be the right fit so it’s OK to continue introducing yourself to people until you find someone you connect and feel comfortable with. This group can be ever-changing and evolving as your needs do. I created one of these powerful groups the first year I was in business and it was invaluable. I still have some of my original mentors and my circle continues to grow.
Consider outsourcing the things that aren’t your strong suit or you don’t have time to do.
So many people tell me, “I’m a one-man (woman) show, I wear all the hats and do all the things. I can’t afford to hire it out.” Most of the time I tell them, you can’t afford not to.
Let’s talk about the time value of money. For example, let’s say you’re in a service industry and you bill your clients at $100 per hour. You do your own bookkeeping but, because it’s not your specialty, it takes you a few hours each week and at the end of the month, you’re still not certain it’s right. A qualified bookkeeper could probably do the same tasks in an hour or two per month at an average rate of $40 per hour. Now, instead of losing $800 per month (Your $100/hr billing rate potential x 2 hours per week x 4 weeks per month), you could spend $80/month. That’s a tenth of the cost! And bonus, it’ll be done right!
The same goes for the other tasks. Unless you’re efficient and well trained/equipped to handle it AND can’t pay someone to do it for less than your own earning potential per hour - you should really leave it to the professionals. Let’s not forget the mental real estate you free up not thinking about all of those things!
There are a multitude of ways to be around and learn from others, even when you work on your own. Consider co-working spaces where you can be around other solopreneurs who share your struggles. Most of these places offer lunch and learns or after hour events to encourage you to get to know the people in your shared space. Even working in coffee shops and cafes can be beneficial in short bursts.
Take a class, attend a Chamber mixer, look up your local BNI chapter or area Meet Ups. All of these will offer you the opportunity to learn from and share your experiences with your peers as well as some good old fashioned commiseration.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of ways to work with, learn from and be around others which is beneficial to your business AND your sanity! And the great news is, they need you as much as you need them so share your story, you never know when your experience could help someone else.