Why you need a team when you work for yourself

“Deliberately seek the company of people who influence you to think and act on building the life you desire.” - Napoleon Hill

Are you one of the growing number of self-employed Australians?

We have many different names. Freelancer, entrepreneur, solopreneur, sole trader, consultant, contractor, and even self-bosser. While each of these titles has a slightly different meaning, they all have the same basic premise – you are your own boss (as am I).

We’ve all had our own motivations for stepping out on our own, but we share some common ones, too. Do these sound familiar?

  • The flexibility to work when and where you want.
  • The freedom to choose the work you want to do.
  • The joy of not having to answer to anyone else.

You get to make the decisions and you are accountable for the successes and the failures. That’s both exciting and scary at the same time, isn’t it? The buck stops with you.

Have you ever stopped to consider that, even when you are on your own in your home office, you are still part of a team?

It’s true.

We all need support from those around us, whether we recognise it or not. Every successful person has a vast network of people behind them. Look at sportspeople, actors, and even politicians. When they give their victory or acceptance speech, they always acknowledge a long list of people who helped them reach their goals.

Who’s in your team?

Each of us has a team like that behind us. Let’s look at who they are.

Your family and friends

For many of us, it is our family and close friends that are with us right from the start – especially those that we live with or see regularly.

They are the ones that will help you by looking after the kids while you work, planning their daily schedule around yours, sharing their expertise for free or encouraging you when you are frustrated or dejected.

It can be very easy for us to take our family and friends for granted in these situations. To avoid potential conflicts, it is important for us to communicate effectively with them and show them our appreciation regularly. It is especially important for us to allow those in our household to participate in some or all of the business decisions we make as they will likely be affected, too.

Your business team

More often than not, you’ll pay the people in your business team for their services – but that doesn’t mean they’ll be any less supportive of you. Some of the people on your team may include your:

  • Accountant
  • Financial advisor
  • Legal advisor
  • Bank manager
  • Business coach

Each of these valued members will work with you to help you define your goals and find ways to work towards them with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Unfortunately, some people have the attitude that, because they pay someone to help them, that person must be somehow inferior. If you have that attitude, then you aren’t doing yourself any favours. You might get the services you’ve paid for but nothing else. You might even earn a reputation as a difficult person to deal with.

On the other hand, when you treat everyone with respect and good-humour, your actions usually have many positive flow-on effects. These could include:

  • Your accountant making an extra effort to find you more things you can claim on your next tax return.
  • Your bank manager using their discretion to extend your loan to cover your new business venture.
  • The concierge at the hotel you frequent on business trips ‘magically’ producing tickets to a football final or popular concert. (Yes, they are part of your team as well.)

Your government team

When you’re in business, you often need to deal with various levels of government. Sometimes, this could be with individuals and sometimes it could be with accessing government resources online.

At a local level, this could include getting permits to run your business at home, attending business events or using local advisory services such as the Home-Based Business Network run by the City of Monash in Melbourne

The federal and state governments mountain of resources and services available for small business owners. You can use these to check that your business complies with regulations relevant to your industry, to see if you might benefit from funding grants and schemes, and much more.

Regardless of what you think of the politicians in power or some of the government systems in place, remember that the people you deal with are also part of your team. Treat them with respect (that word again) and you are more likely to gain their respect and cooperation in return.

Your network team

You might think you have a limited network of people that can support you and your business, but if you take the time to list them, you list will probably be surprisingly long.

Business peers

Who do you know in the industry you are in? Old bosses and colleagues? What about suppliers and customers? Or even people you know from other industries?

When you need things like testimonials, referrals or accessing industry resources, these are the people that can help you by providing them.

Business and community networks

Joining relevant business networks is one of the best ways to build a team around you. Whether through industry associations, local council or online platforms such as LinkedIn, you don’t need to look far to find groups that you can join for support and information sharing. Often, these groups can be full of fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs who’ll understand everything you’re going through and more.

Networks like these are also great places to learn about new trends, products and innovations that can make a difference for your business.

Mentors

No doubt, somewhere along the way, you’ll come across people in your team that will inspire and motivate you to keep going for your dreams. These people can become your mentors.

It doesn’t matter if you meet them in person or online. What matters is that you make a positive connection with them on some level.

Mentors can help you by giving feedback on your ideas and goals and encouraging you when things aren’t going well. They can also coach you as you and your business grow.

Remember that, in addition to the mentors you find for yourself, there are many more you can learn from on The Mentor List podcasts.

Invest in your team.

Richard Branson values his employees before his customers as he understands that without his team, his businesses would not be successful. In many ways, his customers are also part of his team as it is their feedback that drives his business directions and innovations.

 You can prioritise the value you place in your team, too.

One of the best ways to do that is to communicate effectively with them. Listen to what they have to say, trust and value their opinions, take advice from them, and treat them well.

Give back to your team. Don’t be the person that is always taking from others without giving anything in return. If you’ve sacrificed quality time with your family and friends to work on your business, make the time to do something enjoyable together. In a business network, share your tips with others and recommend their skills and services where appropriate. Maybe even swap services with other self-employed people in ways that benefit both of you.

Become a mentor yourself. Look for others that could benefit from your knowledge and experience and reach out to them. Help them find direction and be a good listener whenever they need you. Not only will it help them, you may be surprised at how rewarding it can be for you as well.

Call to action…

Federico Re turned to mentoring to aspiring entrepreneurs, SME business owners, CEO’s, and world-class business leaders after 10 years as a successful entrepreneur himself. At just 22, he co-founded a niche designer stationery and giftware company which grew to over $10 million in sales per year.

Federico realised that much of his success was due to the support, advice and encouragement he received from his own mentors.

“I could bring to others the message that if I can do it, then you can do it too…I recognised that I could use my experience and what I had learnt to help others to achieve their own success, those who were hungry to achieve but who needed the support and coaching in order to do so. It is about educating people, aiding them to develop the plans and the strategies that they need and then empowering them to achieve the impossible.”

Discover more of Federico’s personal success story and hear his thoughts on the importance of mentoring and collaboration by listening to his podcast interview on The Mentor List.

Use this opportunity to reflect on the people in your support team and be sure to tell them how much you appreciate them. Then, go out and look for ways that you can support others in similar ways. When we work together, everyone wins.

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au

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