The long road to starting a business can feel even longer for you if you’re a solopreneur who’s logging most (if not all) of your hours alone. Having access to other people while you’re working in your rabbit hole is important for both the social and emotional aspects we typically think of. It’s great to have others to chat with when we want to take a break. It’s even more important to have others there to help support us when we’ve hit a wall, need to blow off steam, or are having a crisis of confidence, or worse. But solopreneurs face many challenges that our family and friends often can’t relate to, making it difficult for us to explain what we’re working on or dealing with when we feel like everything we’re doing with our business is already an uphill battle. That’s why I suggest forming your own Team Solopreneur!
Making friends with other entrepreneurs early on can be more fun, plus working with others who understand the challenges you face might even give you some extra runway. This Tales of a Solopreneur installment discusses some additional benefits that you can gain from teaming up with other entrepreneurs, opportunities for making connections, and communication platforms you can use to stay in touch.
Connecting the A-B-C Way
Many solopreneurs already have a built-in self-starter gene which sparked their entrepreneurship in the first place. But two heads are often better than one, and everyone can use a cheerleading section occasionally. These A-B-Cs are additional advantages you can gain from forming new friendships with other entrepreneurs:
First, no matter how good (or not) you might be at strategizing and scheduling tasks, there’s something magical about declaring to someone other than yourself what you need, or want, to complete. Even if it takes me longer than I’d like to complete and mark a task off my list, I find that I finish the items I’ve declared to my confidantes quicker than I would otherwise; often because it’s more fun to share my wins than my setbacks. But setbacks are part of the process, so having friends who will (gently) check in on me and my progress is worth its weight in gold. It also makes it easier to restart when I get sidetracked or occasionally derailed.
Brainstorming Beyond Your Bubble
Next, there aren’t enough hours in the day for you to be all the things to all the people. Like homing in on your ideal client or your niche audience, it’s also helpful to focus your time on the skills and knowledge areas that will provide you the maximum benefits. But there will be other areas you aren’t skilled in that you will either need to learn or hire someone else to take care of for you, and you might not be able to afford to hire experts yet.
Dividing and conquering is a great way to leverage your skills and strengths and avoid getting stuck in quicksand trying to learn and implement required tasks that you don’t understand, like doing, or have time to do. Sharing knowledge with other entrepreneurs, especially when they are skilled in areas that are your gaps, can be a win-win. For example, if you love setting up systems but are petrified of marketing, and a member of your Team Solopreneur is a whiz at branding but doesn’t know which technology to use to run a back office or how to manage data, then swapping expertise can move you both forward exponentially.
Also, brainstorming with others about where they focus their time or what resources are on their wish list introduces you to other ideas, strategies, technologies, trends, and opportunities that you might never discover otherwise.
Finally, sometimes we get so deep into our rabbit holes that we lose the forest through the trees. We may think we know where we’re headed; but a gut check can help save us lots of time, money, and emotional energy if we are way off the mark. Bouncing your ideas off someone else who has experience in the area, has strong strategic skills, or is just an independent thinker who isn’t tied emotionally to your idea the way you are can be priceless. And if you choose to move forward with your idea, even if you’ve received a thumbs down, you will likely have some additional data points to use in your planning.
Making Connections Is Easier Than You Think
There are many opportunities for making connections with other entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs and their businesses come in all shapes and sizes; so, challenge yourself to think broadly and meet people with different product and service focuses, client demographics, skills, interests, and goals. For example, my Team Solopreneur includes writers, coaches, entrepreneurs, and knitters; and I learn completely different and wonderful things from each of them.
Some of the best places I’ve made my connections include:
- Classes – Whether classes are online or in person, there are usually opportunities to meet other students in either breakout sessions, live Q&As, group assignments, or closed social media groups or networks. Also, some classes take it to the next level and recommend (or even facilitate) teaming up with other students to create accountability pods. If you get the chance, take advantage of this opportunity. Although you may feel out of your comfort zone at the beginning and setting up your pod may take a little extra time, you may end up with friends and confidantes that last long after the class is over.
- Private Membership Communities – Some teachers and coaches run private membership communities focused on a specific topic and/or client demographic that they offer only to their students and clients. Often these types of communities provide the ability to meet many individuals at once along with additional opportunities for smaller group interactions.
Make a list of the activities you already participate in (or plan to participate in the short-term), identify what community-related activities they offer, and pick one to start with.
Choosing Your Communications Platform is Key
Connecting should be fun, but sometimes our typical technology options cause challenges that make it feel like a chore; so, make sure you select a communications platform that will work best for you and the other members of your Team Solopreneur based on your preferences.
Although email, texts, and social media groups are always possibilities for staying in touch with new friends, they are my least favorite solutions to use. Email can feel like snail mail for real-time (or close to real-time) contact as compared to texts these days; but I don’t always have time to respond to texts, and it’s too easy for them to fall through the cracks. I also find going on social media to check group messages can be too time-consuming with all the other shiny objects on social media.
My favorite way to keep in touch is using instant messaging platforms, such as Discord or Slack. Both platforms have mobile capabilities, allow you to invite friends, set up different threads, organize topics and groups so it’s easier to focus your attention, and make it easy to jump to the point in each thread where you left off. Plus, both have free plan options.
I’ve been splitting my focus lately between progressing on my book coaching certification program and learning new skills in an online class, both of which will keep me busy for the foreseeable future. Lucky for me, both provide community opportunities to help keep me on track.
I hope you are ready to set up your own Team Solopreneur if you don’t already have one. But just remember…starting out slow is fine since you only need one new friend to start benefiting from your A-B-Cs.
Tell us in the comments: Do you have a Team Solopreneur?
Richelle Lyn is a compensation & benefits attorney and HR executive, who now spends her days focused on the writing life. Her favorite fiction reads involve leading ladies who push boundaries and conquer their fears while preferably digging for secrets, learning magic, and/or saving the World. She’s also a fan of non-fiction reads focused on personal growth and transformation. She loves her tea hot and her coffee iced. She calls South Florida home, but her favorite place to be is on a trip. You can check her out on Instagram and Twitter.