It’s a misconception that the self-employed work alone. We do work alone, but we can’t be successful by ourselves. We always need help.
As business owners, we tend to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Author Steven Wright explains how much stress he had completing a project and how he “might suffer Karoshi (the Japanese term for literally working yourself to death)”. Yes, we are responsible for our businesses but that doesn’t mean we need to carry that burden alone. I actually owe a lot of my success to others, including teachers, friends, peers, and even my biggest competition.
I’m not suggesting a business partner, rather creating a trusted system that you can turn to when things get tough. A place, person or organization that nurtures your entrepreneurial spirit but isn’t afraid to tell you the truth.
Here’re a few ideas to help you get started:
Build a Professional Support System
There are a million different types of professional organizations that can support your business. They generally come in two different categories: general business and industry-specific. We joined the Chamber of Commerce when we started our business and they did help us, but we learned so much more from becoming members of an industry specific organization.
You could also join Facebook groups, networking groups, online or off, for specific business issues. There is also fantastic business support for whatever issue you're facing. For example, PrestoExperts has accounting experts that will help with a wide variety of financial and accounting issues. Legal Zoom offers legal help with incorporating or obtaining an LLC. Marketing Profs offers online marketing conferences that cover a wide range of marketing topics including email and video marketing.
Whatever challenges you’re facing, or may face in the future, there are organizations and people out there that will help guide you and your business.
Surround Yourself With Supportive People
Author Erica Gordon writes:
“If you meet someone supportive, he or she will lift you up and encourage you while you are trying to get to where you want to be. Instead of being demanding of your time, this person will inspire you to chase your dreams.”
Some people won’t get why you’re spending so much time building your business when you could get a real job. You always need to find a balance between your personal and professional life, but it’s really hard to focus on your business priorities when those around you aren’t supportive.
Try to surround yourself with people who understand your goals. This doesn’t mean you have to surround yourself with professionals and not friends. Rather, it can be any person that will be your sounding board for new ideas or listen to you vent about your stressful day.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
In Writers, Authors, Bloggers – Beware These Health Risks, author David Leonhardt advises writers not to isolate themselves saying “many people around you will not understand most of your challenges as a writer; other writers will.”
The idea behind not isolating yourself is that any business issue you are facing is probably not unique. Odds are that your peers could have had the same exact problem last week. They could tell you what worked for them or what didn’t. Maybe it’s human nature to try to find our own solutions before asking for help, but we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely at the Top
Start thinking about what kind of support you and your business need right now. Do some research, join a group or organization, and start creating your own network.
Being self-employed is a fantastic journey that you have to take yourself. You’re the captain of your ship, create the map, and steer your crew in the right direction. That never means you can’t have help or guidance along the way.