One of the most challenging issues for small business owners is the lack of time and resources to achieve growth. This results from time management issues and financial constraints, of course, but also the fact that solopreneurs often hesitate to simply ask for help. The dictionary suggests that 'solo' describes 'a person who works, acts, or performs alone'. But if you are a solopreneur, performing alone is not a mandate, nor is it always wise. The mindset that dictates otherwise can leave you stuck in a frustrating and costly rut.
Do any of these thoughts describe your own?
'But I'm the only one who knows how to do that (or who does it right).' 'Why would anyone help me? I can't afford to pay them.' 'I have no idea how and where to find someone to help me.' 'I don't have time to find someone to help.'
If the first sentence runs through your mind and you believe that no one else can perform specific tasks, then you have designed a "job" that is not scalable. Even solo-practitioners, such as massage therapists, coaches and others who work directly with clients, can get help with other aspects of their business.
Ok, it's time for a shift in mindset! Consider where it is that you are 'stuck'; this step alone is very constructive. Do you struggle with your website, writing articles and press releases, administrative work, marketing materials? Are you simply unsure of your next steps and crave a mentor or coach? Make a list; face your demons head on! It's time to ask for help. And remember, if you don't ask you will never know the answer. So what if someone says no, then you move on to the next! But I find that most people want to help and oftentimes will jump at a barter situation or at the chance to simply help out.
Consider one or all of the options that are available to you.
Bartering - There are many barter sites popping up on the internet. Or go to a small business directory site, like Our Milk Money and suggest a barter to one of the members. Who do you know in your networking group or personal network who has experience with a service that you need? Once you do agree to a barter, consider and discuss the terms openly and thoroughly and make sure that you continue to check in with one another to make sure both parties are completely happy.
College Interns – Wow! Have I seen some success stories here. College interns can bring such a fresh face to a company, keeping it current with trends and language. Sure, you have to manage them, but what you gain in the end just might be extraordinary. These brilliant minds are yours for the choosing and require only your time and wisdom, as internships are most often free! Your time investment will pay off as your new intern learns the ropes and takes your world by storm!
Mentoring – Again, just ask. There are so many successful business people out there whose success-mindset includes giving back. If they see that you are committed, have a great idea, and are ready to roll up your sleeves, they will offer advice, resources and guidance. Do you admire the work and professional ethics of someone in your industry? Follow their trail, study how they do it, and – why not? – reach out with your questions.
Take a look at the mentoring resources available to you in your local community, as well as on-line. You probably have a local small business resource center, so check that out too. Here is a list of a few of the online resources; you can find more with a simple Google search.
Coaching - If you feel you can't afford coaching, consider finding a coach who is completing their schooling or certification. There are newer many coaches out there who may need the service or product that you offer or who need to acquire hours for certification. These coaches are intuitive and brilliant individuals who can help you in many ways.
Virtual Assistants – These gems are a growing resource for many business owners. VA's can do general admin work or specialized work. There are VA's who specialize in WordPress/website implementation and upkeep, bookkeeping and much more. There is a wide fee range for VA's but in the end an hour of their time is probably equivalent to 5 or 6 of your own! Take a look at the International Virtual Assistants Association for more info.
Family and friends – Are you too proud to ask Mom to answer the phones or Cousin Johnny to help out with SEO? Do you find excuses like, 'He's got better things to do.' Or 'If they wanted to help they would offer?' Right. Why don't you just ask and see what happens?
Ask for Discounts – Again, you don't know if you don't ask. Just because a company has a fee scale on their website doesn't mean that it's fixed. In my mind, everything is negotiable – all you have to do is ask!
Help at Home – If you truly can't think of anywhere in your company where you can let go a little bit – well, hire a coach! OK, if you won't consider coaching then consider this advice; take a look at your personal life. Can someone help out more with the housework, the childcare, cooking or errands? Is your spouse pulling his/her weight? Do you have friends and relatives who can pitch in? Communicate your needs and free up your time and energy for money-making goals. Look at bartering options for childcare or household chores if you don't have anyone to ask for help.
So are you ready? Your mission this week is to reach out. Ask people to lend a hand in any one area of your company or personal life and keep asking until you find at least one great resource! Are you up to the challenge? Keep us posted here!
Last updated: Feb 14, 2011
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka