United We Stand: Small Business Week and the Solopreneur
It’s Small Business Week! What better time to reflect on the many wonderful aspects of being a solopreneur and to offer insight to people who are just now setting out on their own?
Now in my third year of running my freelance writing business, when I look back on all that I’ve learned along the way, one particular fundamental jumps out as the #1 piece of advice to give to new solopreneurs:
Take the initiative, time and effort to build face-to-face relationships with other solopreneurs and small business professionals.
Although you’re running a solo business, you can’t afford to be a loner. Businesses are built on starting – and developing – relationships. As a solopreneur, it can be tempting (and maybe comforting) to hide away in your home office and interact with prospects and peers solely via electronic means. Resist that temptation! Put a face to your name, and whenever possible, seize opportunities to meet potential clients and colleagues in person.
- Learn best practices from your peers. Believe it or not, you will probably find that even your competitors will be relatively open about sharing tips and brainstorming on how to overcome challenges.
- Extend your referral network. The more business professionals who know and trust you, the better your chances will be to have prospective clients directed your way.
- Discover new resources in your community. Through mixing and mingling, you might very well find other businesses that provide services to help you run your business more efficiently or that can add value to your offerings through partnering to provide complementary services to your clients.
How to get started
- This week, there are special networking opportunities all over the nation celebrating Small Business Week. Why not find one local to you and break the ice with other solopreneurs and small business owners.
- Reach out and invite a LinkedIn connection out for coffee.
- Join your local chamber of commerce and become a regular at their networking events. Most are likely included in the price of your membership.
- Volunteer your time and talents to a business-focused organization in your community. Main Street organizations, chambers of commerce, merchants’ associations, SCORE chapters and other local nonprofits provide connections with other business owners AND they offer opportunities for professional development as well.
During this Small Business Week, make an effort to meet face-to-face with other professionals in your locale. And, where geography doesn’t cooperate, take a few minutes to make a few phone calls to supportive connections whom you’ve had strong rapport with via email and social media. That little bit of time can generate a lot of good will – and you just might enjoy it more than you expect!
How do you build and strengthen connections with your peers and prospects? What Small Business Week networking events are you attending?