Starting and running your own business as a solopreneur is ironically all about support. You may be the one in the driver seat of your vision, but you’re definitely not alone in bringing it to life.
Consider your friends, family, investors, clients, mentors, employees — all of the individuals helping to propel you forward, even in moments of maximum doubt.
I think one of the most difficult things for a small business owner to do sometimes is to know when to ask for help. These are the times when our independence and strong-will can work against us. Move out of the way, potential obstacles — we’re bouldering through.
What’s important (and downright necessary) to understand, though, is that seeking guidance in moments of doubt allows you to more readily let go of that uncertainty and chase growth. Here are a handful of resources worth exploring as a small business owner and entrepreneur.
Take Stock of Your Network
When I look back on the early days of Officeheads, I’m incredibly thankful for the mentors and network that helped contribute to my breadth of business knowledge. I was fortunate in the sense that there were individuals around me willing to teach and answer questions as they arose.
Even if not immediately obvious, you likely have a personal network of professionals at your fingertips waiting to be tapped into for knowledge. Simply hop on LinkedIn and you’ll see what I mean. Survey your personal connections, pose questions through the platform’s Career Advice service, and offer to treat those you’d like to pick the brains of to coffee or lunch.
You’ll be surprised to find how willing people are to offer up advice and insight when you make an effort to actually foster a relationship. Acknowledge the value of their time and be willing to return the favor when needed.
Google is Your Friend
If you can Google the symptoms of a cold that just won’t seem to quit, you can Google just about any question related to running a small business. It’s the beauty and curse of the Information Age!
There’s no shortage of people out there, who have walked in your footsteps and overcome the challenges you might now be facing. Better yet, there’s no shortage of people sharing their experiences through forums, social media, and blogs.
Crowdsourcing your questions and issues online is great for verification at the very least. Sometimes you already know the answer in your gut. Much like therapy then, you simply need to confirm your experience through the eyes of someone else. Just try not to get stuck into analysis paralysis.
Seek Out Business-Minded Organizations
If you know where to look, it’s not hard to find groups of people that specifically cater to pro bono services for small business owners. SCORE is one such organization comprised of retired business owners seeking to offer mentorship and advice to those just starting out.
Similarly, a local favorite of mine is 1871. Their technology and entrepreneurship center provide a number of services to entrepreneurs such as co-working spaces, seminars, workshops, business-focused educational courses, and more. You can also check out your local community center and nearby professionally-minded Meetups to connect with fellow entrepreneurs eager to bounce around ideas and intermingle networks.
The most important thing you can do when seeking out resources as a small business is trust. Follow your gut with guidance that compliments your goals on a path towards growth.
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