For the past few years now I've experimented with just about every method of coaching and mentoring that is available to solo professional and entrepreneurs. All of them have their pros and cons. But one thing that I've come to know for sure is that if you are in your own business, you need a great community of like-minded entrepreneurs around you. Why?
- Running your own business is a solitary endeavor. Decisions are up to you and you alone. You need the perspective of other business owners to round out your own thoughts. The perspective of your employees (if you have any) isn't the same thing.
- Your own energy waxes and wanes. I'm not talking about the moon or hormones, either. The best business owners know that their own energy has to attract others to them – good staff, great customers, good deals for rents or whatever else. And it is very hard to keep your own energy up where it needs to be without sometimes drawing from the good energy of others.
- Time inevitably puts you in the box. What do I mean by this? When you created your business you did it to put forward a new, not previously done type of business. You felt what you had to offer was unique and special. In other words, you were out of the box. But as time rocks on, your own thinking gets boxed in by the very dailiness of what you do, by your own fatigue, and by the fact that others will emulate you. To keep on re-creating a business that continually pleases and serves your customers, you need to keep yourself out of the box.
- Your ideas, although they are great, can be sharpened and improved by your entrepreneurial community. Simply put, multiple heads are better than one. Here's a quick example of this. In one of my own communities, a woman had a deal with a book publisher for her very first book. But she was balking about what the publisher wanted to title the book, taking issue with both the main title and the tagline. She brought it up in our next get together, only to find that her adamant opinion was not shared by a single one of us! We all though the title was good and that, furthermore, the publisher knew what would sell much more than the author did. As I pointed out, the author is the subject matter expert but her publisher is the marketing and sales expert for her book. All but one of the entire community basically told her to suck it up. And after she listened to us, she did! She ended up coming all the way back around to what the publisher had suggested, with only a very minor one-word change. Which leads me to my next point about the benefit of being in an entrepreneurial community….
- It helps you get your own ego out of the way, and think about what you offer from your customer's point of view. Believe you me, you will ONLY be successful if you offer what your customers want and need, not what you in all your wisdom think they need.
I could probably come up with a few more good reasons, but I think you, smart as you are, get the point. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a community to foster a solo business. I cannot even begin to list for you all that I have learned from constantly participating in my own communities. I've gotten both wonderful, gentle, loving support and a sharp kick in the pants….and both have been beneficial to me. It will be the same for you.
I'm excited to tell you that I'm forming a new community for solo business owners that will offer these benefits ( and more) in just about a month. I'm calling it Private Matters because I'm creating a group to which you can bring your most private thoughts and worries. These deeply affect your business, they matter. So….in a nutshell….Private Matters. It will be small, full of sharp thinkers and dedicated solo business owners, and it will change you and your business in ways that you can only dream of. If you feel you are a good match for Private Matters, you can e-mail me and I'll make sure you get the application and information.
Meanwhile, keep your business focused on who you serve, what those people need, and how you can best offer products and services that meet those needs. And remember to reach out for community regularly. Both you and your customers will benefit.
(c) Sue Painter