Atlantic Canada’s Leading Resource for Women Entrepreneurs Since 1992, located at the RBC Centre for Women in Business, MSVU.

The Dream, the Team & the Successful Solopreneur

135_Debi_Hartlen_MacDonaldOctober 30, 2015

By Debi Hartlen - MacDonald

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For most of us, it was our passion that inspired us to go into business for ourselves. We wanted to do what we love, help our clients and generally live to the beat of our own drum. Before long, the reality of running a business on our own hit – suddenly we realized there are many different hats to wear other than the one that inspired us to entrepreneurship.

A great team is essential to all success – especially  the success of a “solopreneur” or small business owner. Based on very focused objectives, my decision to not have employees doesn’t diminish the need for additional resources. I work with an amazing team of professionals that serve a variety of purposes.

I focus on what I’m good at to generate revenue and outsource everything else. Each person only has so much capacity – why not use that time to make money and delegate the things that can be done by someone else?

It’s also important that your team include colleagues that assist, inspire, and motivate you to think and reach beyond your comfort zone to create YOUR ideal life – whatever that means to YOU. Let’s look how to find the best teams possible for you and your business.

With a small business death rate said to be anywhere between 80 – 90 per cent in the first five years, it’s essential to understand the reasons why these businesses fail. You want to be set up for success right off the bat. In David Newman’s, book Do It Marketing, he lists, “Failure to develop alliances” as one of the top 10 reasons that small business fail. I whole heartedly agree! So the question is, what type of alliances do you need? These alliances essentially fall into two categories:

1. Your Team
2. Your Suppliers

These are the folks who want to help you succeed. They’re your raving fans, devil’s advocates, accountability partners, Mastermind Group members, your board of directors, your brainstorm partners, mentors, trusted advisors. From my experience, more than 90 per cent of small business owners and solopreneurs don’t invest time, energy and resources in developing this kind of team. These are the people who will give you their honest opinions, access to their resources, their support, and their shoulder when needed. They will also keep you accountable and nudge you to move forward when you can’t imagine taking the leap.

I suggest allotting one day a month in total disconnect to absorb yourself in the business of working ON your business instead of IN your business. This is a time for the IMPORTANT stuff, not the so-called urgent day-to-day busy work that most of us are stuck in. These are the projects and initiatives that will see you fulfill our goals.

Your team plays a big part in this process, whether they are physically there with you not, but I do suggest doing this with at least one more person. As Napoleon Hill said: “A group of brains coordinated (or connected) in a spirit of harmony, will provide more thought-energy than a single brain."

These folks are the people that you do business with. They are your support team, whether they are employees or freelancers. I prefer the freelance model for many reasons, but each business is unique and you will have to decide what works best for you. Whatever you choose, it’s about expertise and delegation.
Your team could consist of any of the following:

  • Designer
  •  Web developer
  • Copywriter
  • Newsletter specialist
  • Lawyer
  • Banker
  • Accountant
  • Consultants
  • Business or Accountability Coach
  • Assistants
  • Anything else that you need!

When choosing suppliers you often, “don’t know what you don’t know.”  This is a prime example of when you turn to your “team”. Your team will have different skills and perspectives than you do, and can help you in your selection process. Many small business owners find themselves in a situation of working with a supplier that’s not a good fit, or simply not getting what they expected. This can be devastating both in time and money, and your emotional trust level when working with someone else in the future.

The best advice I’ve received regarding this was from one of my team, “hire slowly, fire quickly!” (This doesn’t mean snail’s pace!!!)

There are some things that you can do that will greatly increase your chances of success in any business relationship. 

Here are 6 tips for forming business relationships that work.

Choose carefully

> You want to work with people who are likeminded, have the same value system and that you totally trust and respect.

> It always has to be a win-win.

Determine your shared goals.
> Be clear on what you want to get out of your relationship
Work out the time, money and any additional resources that are required from each of you
> Talk openly about the “what ifs”
> Talk money… it’s not a dirty word!

Discuss Communication
> Leave nothing to assumption. Discuss everything. What are the communication expectations?
> Keep great notes and after each meeting, provide an action list with activities assigned that have a timeline on each item
> Do a big picture breakdown 
>Take the project and break it down into bite-size pieces with action items and timelines attached to everything, BEFORE you start anything - this will help all parties see the other’s attention to detail, commitment, and follow through

Whatever relationships you need to support you and your business goals, it’s important to identify what you need and then develop a strategy around how you’re going to make your team a reality.  Whatever you decide on, I guarantee that as soon as you even START giving this the attention it deserves, you will feel as though a weight has been lifted from your shoulders and your business will start to become what you initially dreamed about.

Being a entrepreneur – there’s no life like it!

Work with Debi:

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