They say it's lonely at the top, but for small business owners it can be lonely at the bottom, middle and everywhere in between. Solitude is the nature of the business and even if a good part of the week is spent with customers and clients, in the wee hours of the night and morning, when the numbers get crunched and production is in full swing it's just me, myself, and I.
It is hard enough keeping up with the demands of our business. Getting our there and connecting with other makers and small business owners usually gets a low ranking on the to-do list. We know it's important, but let's face it, if there was a way to impact the earth's rotation to create 48 hours in a single day, small business owners would be in full favor. We work hard. All the time. But, as Jake mentioned in his post about IRCE, success and happiness is really about getting out there and pressing the flesh. To be happily successful, it takes a team.
I have found in my own business that collaboration is key. Meeting and talking with other makers and business owners is inspiring and keeps the good vibes going. It turns out no matter the business type, we all share the same problems and work through the same highs and lows. When nights in front of the computer or working alone in the studio are the norm, it's nice to know there are other people out there at 4am doing the same. In fact I've been known to tweet with other makers in the wee hours of the morning!
So how do we stay connected and build a nice neat little team for ourselves? I have found that the possibilities are endless and surprisingly flexible. Here are some ways to get out there, even when 24/7 is still not enough:
- Sign up for a StitchUp! Did you know Stitch Labs hosts regular video conference calls to help you make the most of Stitch? This is a great way to learn some tools to boost your business, while meeting other Stitch customers, hearing their questions and concerns and feeling a little more connected.
- Join a Twitter Chat. If you haven't given this a go, a Twitter Chat is a scheduled, usually weekly chat that takes place in real time on twitter through a hashtag (#). Even though people from all over the world participate, I have found twitter chats to be a great way to connect with other local small business owners. Chances are your favorite blogs and groups already run a twitter chat! Here are two of my favorites:
- Make the commitment to participate in a regular in-person meetup. For me that's Success Squad, facilitated monthly by super friend Sarah Deragon of Portraits To The People, but for you it might be a different group of professionals meeting once a month to hash out the good, the bad and the ugly of running the show. Not only do weekly/monthly groups provide some lighthearted fun, but they also promote accountability, structure and a chance to collaborate with professionals from different disciplines. All of which gets us motivated, boosts creativity, and helps with maintaining sanity.
- Offer your expertise. I blog like crazy. For myself, Stitch Labs, and a few other people and places. I find writing guest posts about this and that to be a great way to feel connected to a larger effort. Writing, teaching, and guest lecturing offer interaction not only with other businesses, but with their readers, customers, and supporters. Share your secrets of success and become a small part of someone else's team.
Whether it is a 2 hour monthly meeting, a weekly Twitter chat, or checking in with Stitch, there is no shortage of ways to connect yourself to the outside world, even 5 minutes at a time. Yes, if you have been in front of the computer for the last 12 hours, there still is an outside world! And it's pretty darn cool. Get up, find a living breathing person and say hello. You will be glad you did!