This post was written by Patricia Frame of Strategies for Human Resources, our guest author for our solopreneur blog series.
When you run a small business, you are constantly dealing with both issues you know well and those outside your knowledge base. Hiring an expert to help when you need added expertise can be quite useful in that immediate need. You get the results you need without long-term costs when you use independent business owners who understand business demands and the pressures you face.
Yet, have you thought about what else you might get from working with independent consultants, freelancers, and experts?
First, these are people whose work demands that they keep up with what is changing in their field and in other areas. They often can offer insights that will help you plan for your own business future. Second, most solopreneurs work with a range of businesses. They see new ways to work before many others do. They have insights into what works and doesn’t work that can help you address and resolve your own issues more effectively and rapidly. Third, most consultants and freelancers have built a network across many fields. When you need assistance or information in other areas, they are likely to have good connections who may be of use to you.
When you work with a solopreneur, it is always important to build a relationship. This ensures you are comfortable in trusting the person. In turn, that offers you a source of trusted advice both within the person’s specialty and in recommendations or information in other areas. These can speed your progress and effectiveness in many ways. Sometimes you will even find a good match with whom you can just talk to about business in general or trends. Maybe your solopreneur would be willing to discuss specific issues you face over coffee or lunch periodically, or is someone you might add to your board of advisors. All these aspects offer you the support that it is often hard to find within your business.
Even after many years, I am still a bit surprised when a client talks about struggling for a long time with an issue that I solve immediately and make look easy. ‘Well, of course,’ I think, ‘I have decades of experience and study in my field.’ This often leads to a good discussion and to building trust. Then my clients are surprised by all the other areas where I know something that helps or when I can connect them to other experts quickly. This is not unique to me. Most experienced consultants have worked with a range of types of organizations and levels, hence they have experiences which offer insights into your issues, if you just ask.
How do you find solopreneurs to work with? Obviously referrals from other business owners you know is a smart source. If you are active in local business and community organizations, you will meet many. Further, the Alexandria SBDC provides lists of solopreneurs and other small businesses in a wide range of fields – just ask. Attend their events and you will meet many local solopreneurs too.