So I wanted to tell you 5 tips I've found that have worked for me so far in not going crazy with the solitary-ness of starting my own business.
1. Find a group of other small business starters. I think you call these people entrepreneurs :-) Ha. It's extremely comforting to have other people who share your feelings of frustration and worry and also understand what it's like to be where you are right now, because they are going through the same thing. For this group, it really doesn't matter if you are of the same profession or not. In fact, I think that there is a lot to be said for being in a group of folks not of your profession. They'll have ideas you've never even thought of. This does not have to be a group of people that meet in person. The beauty of social media is that we can entirely side step that. Most of the groups I've joined have been free. I did have to ask my way into them, but hey, small price to pay. So that's my first tip.
2. Find some Mentors. So here in Utah, your first year of law practice, you are assigned a fellow lawyer mentor. So I am required to have at least one. But I have found great help in having several mentors. In fact, I have sort of outlined in my head, all the areas in which I need help: networking, marketing, planning, systematizing, building a business, law practice, and on and on. Anytime I go to anything or meet anyone, ever, I have this list in my head, and I am always trying to fill those needs with mentors. While some mentorships will be formal, others will be "friendship" mentorships. These are some of my favorites. Also, some mentors will fulfill multiple of your needs. You'll also find that as you seek out mentors, you yourself will be developing the skills and recognizing other skills that you already have that will allow you to mentor others. Currently, I have 5-6 mentors, and I am always looking for more ;-)
3. Make friends within your profession. I know this probably sounds crazy because this means befriending your competition, but making friends within your profession and particular area of expertise will give you a solid network of folks to ask questions to and learn from that you would not get any other way. It also may result in business for you, because eventually someone somewhere isn't going to be able to provide a service to someone for some reason, and you'll be right there in the forefront of their minds.
4. Look for professionals whose service overlap or complements the service you are providing. This may seem obvious, but for instance, right now, I am partnering with a financial planner to present seminars, because the pool of clients we want to attract is similar. They all want to make a plan for the present and future that ensures financial stability and protection for their families no matter what the future holds. Awesome. Because we share this, we can learn from each other, market together, and attract a bigger pool of people than either of us would ever draw on our own.
5. Be bold and honest. This one is so hard, but I think it is really important. You have to be bold. I recently attended a workshop at the Utah State Bar. One of the presenters was obviously kick butt at networking, and this is an area I need help in specifically because I have two little boys to manage at home, and I simply can't spare the time to go to everything, so I was hoping she could help me navigate the most beneficial networking events for the time I had budgeted for networking. Was I nervous to do this? Yes! But being completely honest and upfront about what I was looking for from her and not beating around the bush allowed her to know whether or not she could help me out or not. And now this is turning into a wonderful mentorship for me!
Maybe not everyone needs people, but I definitely feel that in business, you need people, and that people are gonna make you lucky and help you navigate the times when you feel quite alone in business.