Self-employment Support: What if Working for Yourself Could Be Easier?

by | May 21, 2009

Sometimes we are so preoccupied with trying to get or have it all together that we forget to ask for support. When you find yourself obsessing over your limitations, ask yourself where you could get self-employment support so that your limitations are not a problem.

A business is like a child. It needs support, guidance, and protection. And like a child, your business needs some things that you, the parent, can’t provide. And then there are things your business needs that you may not feel ready to give. Both situations call for outside support.

Self-employment support comes in many varieties. Take a moment to think about the following types of support and decide which ones your business need most.

Every business needs structure, systems, and readily graspable methods for getting things done. Depending on your strengths and talents, you may need someone to prompt you to do routine things, to meet schedules, and to chunk projects down into do-able tasks.

Your business doesn’t stop needing you when you’re low, and trying to carry on when you feel overwhelmed can lead to burnout, discouragement, frustration, and failure. Ask yourself now what kind of support helps you out when you are low. What kind of encouragement works for you? Where will you get it?

When your biggest problem is too many good ideas (tell me about it!), you need a way to prioritize and focus without shutting down your creativity and flexibility. You may need help making choices and sticking with them until you’ve carried them out–at least far enough to see if they might work.

Many of us can use some help deciding when something is finished or no longer serving us. Who can help you decide when a project is good enough? When to let a client go? When to retire your old printer and buy a new one?

Sources of Self-employment Support

Support comes from many places. A healthy business draws support from multiple sources. Your support system will be unique because your personality, talents, and strengths are unique. Here are just a few:

Business study groups
Online communities
Mastermind groups
Professional organizers
Virtual assistants
Physical exercise
Good sleep hygiene
Business down time
Outside professionals (bookkeepers, editors, etc.)
The Hotline for The Work (a free service)

Keep It Simple
For some of us (me, for example) getting self-employment support can turn into a gigantic project with lots of angles and possibilities. That kind of defeats the purpose.

In reality, helpful support starts with small, simple, obvious things.
Peas need a lattice to climb on. Without some version of a lattice, they crawl along the ground and peter out in a depressing little heap. With a lattice, the vines take off like children on a playground. They reach for new places to hold onto, they spread, they prosper.

Beginners Guide to Self-employment Support

Start with support for you.

What is your biggest personal challenge related to your business? Is it confidence? Focus? Discipline? Follow-through? Mood swings? Whatever it is, find a friend, colleague, or other source of support so that this challenge doesn’t keep you stuck. Tell the person you choose what you want help with so they know how to support you.

Get support for your business.
Put yourself in your business’s shoes. What is it’s biggest challenge? Is it cash flow? Clarifying what the business offers and to whom? Marketing? Systems so important appointments and commitments don’t get lost in the shuffle? Pick one and find a source of support for this specific area.

Get a source of perspective.
You are too close to your business to evaluate your own performance. Most of the time Accidental Entrepreneurs actually injure their businesses when they critique them, like a gardener who digs around her pea vines looking for problems in the root system–and damaging the plants in the process.

Find someone, or a group of someones, you can talk to when you have doubts, great ideas, or big decisions. They do not need to be experts, just intelligent individuals who will listen and frankly reflect what they hear and see. I get so much perspective from conversations I have with Maggie about things she claims to know nothing about. The process of articulating my ideas or worries clears things up immeasurably.

Make getting support a priority.
Then use the support you ask for. Tell the people in your support system to let you know when you are isolating, avoiding input on your latest big idea, or hiding out. (Or am I the only one who does this?) Tell them what to look for so they can intervene early and often.

Woo hoo! I’m excited about being quoted along with Pam Slim in a US News article on starting a biz in a recession. Support is a major theme in the piece.

Cartoon by the marvelous marketing maven, Sean D’Souza of