i don’t necessarily agree with everything in this article, but i thought it was useful and i could share it with you!
The Myth Of Being Successfully Solo In Business
By Mark Silver (c) 2008 Heart Of Business
There’s a breakneck pace that many new solo business owners assume. With an infinite number of things to do, and about a dozen hats to wear, it gets overwhelming, fast. And, that’s nothing compared to what happens once the business actually has some momentum under it. That’s why one of my clients with a brand-new business was asking me: “Mark, how do you get it all done? Your business has about 100 times more going on in it than mine does, and I’m overwhelmed just with what I’m trying to get done.”
Here’s my answer: “I don’t get it all done.”
Which strikes at the heart of the most dangerous myth in business: the bootstrap myth, known in this particular instance as the myth of the successful solopreneur.
Why This Myth is so Dangerous
The myth says that you can do it on your own, you can bootstrap your way to success, and that when you go solo, you don’t need anyone else. That’s the whole point of being self-employed, or running a personal-sized business, right?
This rugged homage to individualism isn’t just in the U.S., as some have claimed. I have seen this myth in action across the globe: Canada, the UK, mainland Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. It seems as if it’s just hard to get it: we can’t do it ourselves.
The Physical Reality
When you’re an employee at a company, you get to do your job. And, unless you think upon it, you might not realize how much other people do just so you can do your job. Who prints and signs your check? Who makes sure the office building gets cleaned? Who stocks the office supplies closet, or goes out and sells to clients so there is revenue to pay you?
It’s humbling, but when you become self-employed, all of those functions fall into your lap. And it is impossible, literally impossible, to do them all. If you’re overwhelmed trying to make your business work yourself, there is good reason for it. Frustrating – but don’t despair. It may help to understand why it is this way.
The Spiritual Reality
As my Sufi teacher tells me, “Be the earth for your brothers and sisters. If you don’t carry them, who will?… When you look into another’s eyes, see the reflection of God looking at you.”
The depth of this teaching really struck home when I realized that he wasn’t talking to me personally – this teaching was for everyone. We’re all asked to carry each other. Which means that we also need to allow ourselves to be carried.
When someone offers help, do you say: “Yes!” or do you say: “Nah, I can get it.” If the bootstrap myth is operating in your business, there may be a hundred subtle and not-so-subtle ways that you avoid or turn away from help.” Lord knows I do.
And yet we are meant to both help and be helped by each other. This is one of the ways that we experience the Divine in our lives, through the actions, support and love of others.
Yes, I mean you. 🙂 You are supposed to receive the Divine through the actions, support and love of others. You can’t do everything yourself. And that’s as it was designed to be. Watch the wing-stretching and contortions you go through as you learn to receive more help. It will do much more than help your business, it will be a real experience of healing and growth for you as well.
Who can afford to hire an entire company of help? Of course, not all of the help you get will be free, and there’s so much of it to get. And you can’t hire it all, especially early in your business. So what do you do?
After going through some big transitions ourselves, having grown up in a small retail business, and having worked with hundreds of clients, let me share some insights into how to prioritize.
Keys to Being a Successful Pseudo-Solo
First, Invest in Information and Learning. I know, I know – it seems like a lot needs to get done, right now. Remember – millions of people have already done what you’ve tried to do. So, the best thing to do is to learn from some of them.
Get books from the library, or buy them. Take classes, free or otherwise. Find people you admire who have successfully navigated what you’re trying to do and take them to tea or lunch and ask them questions. I’ve done about a dozen interviews with folks I admire and have them up in our online community for just that reason: The Business Oasis.
Make sure the information resonates with you. As just one example, marketing professionals out there are all saying more or less the same thing, so you can find one that your heart really resonates with and is speaking your language.
Second, Get Help With the Numbers. I’ll say this once: if you’re running a business, you shouldn’t be doing your taxes yourself. There are too many deductions and pitfalls and details. You want to hire it out, even if you think you can’t afford it.
Related to that, as soon as you can, hire a bookkeeper to keep your accounting clean from month to month. Not only will it help you at tax time (imagine filing your taxes in the beginning of February!), but it will also help you understand your business better, simply knowing how money flows in and out.
Third, Experiment With a Virtual Assistant. You may not be able or ready to hire out help. You also may have no idea how or where to start. I suggest finding a virtual assistant you like, who has strengths in areas that you get overwhelmed by easily, and hiring them for a very small project, maybe an hour or two. Then repeat in a month or so.
Over some months, as you both get to know each other, you’ll get more comfortable with asking for help, and receiving it. Your business may need to develop before you hire a significant amount of help, but if you start small, it will be a much easier transition. And you’ll get there much more quickly.
Getting help in your business is a huge topic. The trick is to face the simple truth that you can’t do it all yourself, and that spiritually it’s enormously beneficial to receive help.
Then, first get help by learning through books, classes, and other resources, second get help with the numbers with an accountant then a bookkeeper, and finally practice outsourcing to a virtual assistant in small, do-able, bites. And watch how much more successful you can be as a ‘pseudo’ solo business owner.
The best to you and your business.
About The Author
Mark Silver is the author of Unveiling the Heart of Your Business: How Money, Marketing and Sales can Deepen Your Heart, Heal the World, and Still Add to Your Bottom Line. He has helped hundreds of small business owners around the globe succeed in business without losing their hearts.
i started forestprints design 4 years ago (few more days! :D), so that i have a “valid” outlet to do what i wish to do, to make what i wish to make, and to sell what i love to make. i didn’t set out with “making money business” as the very first thought. rather, my very first thought was “i love and want to make this”, and then “i want you to love what i make”, and it graduated to “i want this passion to be my livelihood”, and finally “i have to make this happen, my way”.
i used to look up to people who have very lofty ideals about doing what they truly love to do. i wanted to be just like them. do what i truly love doing, without any compromises. sure. i can be the only one who loves what i do, and no one else in this entire world loves it, or understands it, really “supports” it, (in my case, buy what i make), or even notices it at all. then, when i began thinking more in-depth about it, i concluded that these people either have super huge never-ending bank accounts (could be anyone else’s really…), or are just not very smart, or simply very self-centered. at the end of the day, the one who claims to be passionate about doing her/his thing, but yet not really caring how to make it “work”, nor caring for any results, and yet leeching off someone else’s resources, to feed their own passion, this, i think, is too self-serving a venture…. such a crime…
or, of course, there are definitely other more positive scenarios, one of which is, a very simple person, living a very simple life, and doing what they love doing. but truly self-sufficient. an artist once said to me, “i don’t really care if no one likes what i do, once in a while, someone who appreciates my work will miraculously pop up, buy a few paintings, and then, i have money to pay for my rent and more art supplies again.” he has just enough money to get by with very simple meals, a really simple lifestyle, maybe treats from some friends, and, so on, you get the picture.
so, is a simple lifestyle for you? it most certainly isn’t for me. i love what i do, and it is my lifelong passion. but i also love plenty of the other “better” things in life. so i make sure to work really hard at it to make it work for me. in the process, i don’t give up playing hard either, because that just doesn’t suit me. people like to question what i do, whenever they notice me going out and about, say, in the middle of the day, shopping. or hanging out with friends at places. or going abroad. hello, i don’t do 9-6pm, one of the many reasons why i can’t stand working for people under most circumstances, and i can choose not to, since i’m the boss. what’s so great about tying a clock to myself?? but when i do work super late into the night, or wake up super early in the morning, people don’t see that. people don’t see me slogging away 24 hours, going to bed at 4am, or waking up at 7am. yes yes yes… i have 50 slaves slogging away non-stop for me everyday in my dungeon :p
one of my favorite things to do is to work full-force for 4 days in a stretch, and then do absolutely nothing but play for another 4 days in a row. it’s thoroughly liberating, let me tell you that.
there’s no one point to what i just said. it is not in respond to the article above either. just some random thoughts i have built up along the way whilst typing. more in relation to a very long conversation i had with a regular customer today, about how and why i do what i do. i really love what i am doing now, not only because of the obvious reasons, but also because i am helping to help others in the process, to help improve their lives, in any little ways that i can. so far on, all of my previous and current sewers in the philippines have seen improvements in their lives since working for me, a few have managed to save enough to go back to school, and the others have managed to rent and even buy their own homes, improved their living conditions, upgraded their knowledge, skills, and self-esteem (poverty most likely always beats up a person’s self-worth…. they always think they aren’t able do anything at all…), and are living way better lives than before. i am happy to report that currently, no one needs to live in the living space i have rented, it is now empty, most likely to become a storage place, that is, until i hire and train again, new sewers who are homeless. in fact, i was in hot soup recently because 2 of them decided very quietly that they have saved enough to go to college in manila. and without warning, they just expressed their intentions one day, and left the next. their very typical yet super irrational fear? they were afraid to let me know. what was i going to do, abduct them away to my cellar, and enslave them to the sewing machine??? a few of my large orders were thus very delayed, that was a super crazy and stressful period….. still is now, but i’m still handling it….. the rest of the sewers felt that it was so unfair for them to just up and go in such an ungrateful manner, but yeah, whatever… shit happens…. maybe i should start a blog to talk about all the gazillion dramatic difficulties in setting up and managing the workshop… maybe not… a 100-part drama serial would be more apt i think…
anyhow, to put it bluntly, all these actions require moolah. and so if my business improves, so will their lives. if i insist on being a stubborn creative idealist – “oh, i don’t care about making money. i just insist on doing what i like to do, the way i like to do it” or something along these lines – or stop working my brains and fingers, then it’s goodbye to all of these and all of them.
i guess, i just don’t get these people who are ultimately building their dreams on other people’s resources, and then saying that they don’t really care whether they make it or not…. if i were to invest in someone else’s dreams, in my bid to try to help them make their dreams work, and this is what i hear, i would be most heartbroken and disappointed. so please, don’t automatically assume i am one of such people simply because i am doing what i love to do….
“here’s $50,000 to help you build your invention. i wish you success.”
“i will try my best to build it, and enjoy building it. but whether the invention will work or not, or is useful or not, that’s not my priority. i don’t really care about that. i just want to enjoy the process and have a chance to do this.”
???? if this sucker is not your doting parent (not that i agree with this either), then this sucker is truly one hell of a sucker.
then again, this world works in strange ways, and connections and networks are usually all that matters…. i am not making sense at all. maybe because i need sleep… or maybe because i am getting so very tired of explaining again and again and again what i do, why i do what i do, and how i do it…. and why i am not like him or her or them or…… bahhh…..