Ideas for Working Alone Together

17 07 2013

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It’s no joke; working on building a business from scratch, and especially from home, can make you feel very alone and isolated.

I have found that if you are feeling lost and disconnected, you are most likely forgetting to connect personally with people on a consistent basis. In our cyber-oriented world, you may be reaching out and meeting new people every day, as well as getting advice from these sources.  But it probably won’t fulfill your deeper needs.  In reality, this can be lacking those important ‘personal’ and ‘consistent’ connections that you need to develop a strong business foundation.

We can connect with our industry and get important news and information through magazines, blogs and social media. Similarly these outlets are excellent resources for learning about growing a small business.

So while I love how our reach has expanded significantly through the Internet and social media, at the same time you need to remember to continue creating the personal contacts.  This will keep information flowing, provide a venue for accountability, and make your spirits soar.

If you haven’t already done so, find a friend or colleague that you can connect with regularly. And if you can’t find the right one, a coach can fulfill this need.  Just make sure that, whoever it is, you are getting together on a regular schedule. This can be once a week or once a month, depending on your (or their) interactive needs.  But it should be at least a loose schedule to get the flow going and keep the progression moving.

I hear so often from my clients that sometimes they feel alone and don’t know who to turn to.  I believe many of us have lots of people we can go to, but it’s very easy to lose track of time and not reach out.  And certainly not reach out consistently.  Let’s get organized and do it.

Each one of you has two sides to your business:

1) The industry(s) side—such as manufacturing, retailing and art licensing, plus art, product design, creativity and

2) The business side–such as running a solo or small business, management, accounting, internet development, marketing, sales, legal, time management, motivation, etc.

Don’t neglect any of your needs. Try to find one person you can talk with regularly from each of these two key areas. Also, keep in mind your skill sets and try to find others who complement your strengths and weaknesses (i.e. fill-in your gaps).

When you talk, make sure you actually share creative and business successes, as well as problems and issues. Give yourself time to unload and fill-up with the good stuff.  Find someone who is both encouraging and prepared to give you HONEST feedback and ideas.  You don’t want someone who is unrealistic and just a ‘yes’ person.

I am suggesting this technique is something less formal and more frequent than a mentoring relationship, as well as mutually beneficial to everyone. It’s not a one-way street. Someone of your same experience level, such as a non-competitive colleague, can be incredibly helpful. Especially when they have some skill sets you don’t and if they are willing to spend the time and talk openly (and confidentially) about their and your business.

It may also be necessary to create a bit of structure for your time together. This can help you get to the point faster and stay on track.  The structure of an agenda is also a good way to manage the time, and make sure that you both get to share your experiences, answer questions and get your needs met.  Discussing your business with someone on a regular basis will also help you stay focused, organized, productive and hopeful.  Then, as you proceed, be honest about how the relationship is, or is not, working for you.

Lastly, I would try really hard to have one of these people be a local contact you can meet with in person. Meeting with someone face-to-face every month can be very encouraging and fulfilling. I can’t emphasize enough that too often we keep moving forward without any personal connection.  In the end, it robs us of our true potential – not to mention the occasional hug!

These ideas are just a gentle reminder that taking care of ourselves is the most important thing we can do.  Sometimes we may feel alone, or even be alone.  But there is no reason we can’t be alone together. Now…who can YOU call?

(Note: if you want a true mentor, that’s a different relationship.  Here are a couple of links to articles about how to find a mentor. Inc. Magazine’s “How to Find a Business Mentor”  and “How to Find and Keep Your Ideal Mentor”)



2 responses

24 07 2013
Daryl Slaton

I’ve found that even if you are working in partnership with your spouse or another individual in your studio, you still need this kind of interaction. I often do this by taking a walk with a creative friend or business associate in our beautiful mountains. This serves several purposes: you stimulate your mind and your body. A very productive use of time!!! Louise

17 07 2013
Lori Woodward

this is so important and thanks for bringing it up. I have found that online relationships don’t fill my need for social contact. The answer for me is a shared studio with 3 other like-minded encouraging artists. I’m there 4 days a week. We’re productive and share friendship as well.

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