NOTE: This post originally appeared in my Musepreneur column on the Wishstudio.
As a creative, independent spirit you may be used to doing things solo. No one else can do it quite like you can, right? I have no doubt that you’re the perfect person to do what you’re passionate about. The core of your business should be doing what you love. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to do everything on your own. If you are bearing most of the burden, I bet that you often feel burnt out.
Not only can having support help you focus on getting the important things done, it also helps you maintain balance as well.
Support comes in many forms: pro bono or paid for, friends or freelancers, advice, accountability and a devil’s advocate or brainstorming, encouragement and simply listening. Get clear on what type of help you need for what pieces of your business. Perhaps you need expert guidance on how to set up a blog or Quickbooks. Or you may just need a group of friends to give you feedback on a new workshop you’re creating.
Action: Make a helping hand wishlist of all the things you need help with in your business. Also, consider other areas in your life where you could use support, too. For example, I love that I can actually get work done while someone else is cleaning my house!
Below are a several suggested structures and resources to help you get the help that you need:
- Find an accountability buddy. If you’re looking for an easy, no-cost way to get some help and to help someone else, partner with an accountability buddy. This is someone who you meet with regularly either in-person or on the phone to report on progress, talk through issues and celebrate successes. A typical meeting might last an hour with each person having 30 minutes to share. As you look through posts and comments here on the Wish Studio you might happen across someone you’d like to buddy up with. Reach out to her. You never know what might happen!
- Corral your creative cohorts. A group provides a similar structure to an accountability buddy, but because there are other musepreneurs, you’ll get even more support and several different perspectives. Meet regularly in-person or over the phone (get a conference call line at sites like http://www.nocostconference.com or http://www.freeconferencecall.com). I have the good fortune of being part of such a group, which one of the members lovingly coined our “Nurture Huddle.” We do a 90-minute call every other week and rotate meeting facilitation. We share personal and professional challenges, celebrate successes, ask for ideas and feedback, and name our commitments for the next call. We laugh often and learn a lot!
- Create an Advisory Board. If you want a more formal structure dedicated solely to your business, create an Advisory Board of designated experts who can guide you in growing your business. Check out this helpful article on creating an advisory board from Entrepreneur magazine.
- Conduct a focus group. Perhaps you need targeted feedback for a specific project. Instead of shooting in the dark, gather members of your target audience together (or even just some friends if you want something more casual) to test your ideas and offer suggestions. Here’s a great article on how to conduct a focus group.
- Hire a coach. When you want 1:1 support with achieving your goals, consider working with a coach. Through various stages of my life and business, I’ve hired different coaches. They’ve been invaluable in helping me to transition from corporate to entrepreneurship, develop products, work on my book and so much more! Ask around for referrals or search for coaches at the International Coach Federation or The Coaches Training Institute.
- Find a mentor. Mentors will take you under their wing and show you the ropes. They have more experience than you and can offer wisdom and insights. I found a mentor through Twitter! I searched on Expressive Arts and found Chris Zydel, only to discover that her studio is 10 minutes from my house. Be on the look out for potential mentors. Take a class and see if you click with the teacher. Ask a former colleague out to lunch. For more tips, check out this great Ladies Who Launch article on how to find and work with a mentor and also Findamentor.org.
- Outsource tasks. I cannot tell you how many tears I’ve shed over Quickbooks. In the beginning I had the bookkeeping under control but after awhile I ended up with a big, ugly mess that sucked up way too much of my time. I learned from that mistake and invested in a bookkeeper. What’s the thing that drives you crazy? What tasks require expertise? Where will delegating free you up to focus on doing what you love? Ask for referrals, or search on sites like Resource Nation or Elance.
Action: Choose at least 2-3 things from your helping hand wishlist and identify at least 1-2 ways you can get support for each one you selected.
Bonus points: Based on your list, reach out to someone today and ask for the help you need.
Running a creative business can be challenging. And it can also be lots of fun when you invite others to play with you!