By Mark Silver (c) 2008 Heart Of Business
There's a breakneck pace that many new solo business owners assume. With an infinite number of things to do, and about a dozen hats to wear, it gets overwhelming, fast.
And, that's nothing compared to what happens once the business actually has some momentum under it. That's why one of my clients with a brand-new business was asking me: "Mark, how do you get it all done? Your business has about 100 times more going on in it than mine does, and I'm overwhelmed just with what I'm trying to get done."
Here's my answer: "I don't get it all done."
Which strikes at the heart of the most dangerous myth in business: the bootstrap myth, known in this particular instance as the myth of the successful solopreneur.
Why This Myth is so Dangerous
The myth says that you can do it on your own, you can bootstrap your way to success, and that when you go solo, you don't need anyone else. That's the whole point of being self-employed, or running a personal-sized business, right?
This rugged homage to individualism isn't just in the U.S., as some have claimed. I have seen this myth in action across the globe: Canada, the UK, mainland Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa.
It seems as if it's just hard to get it: we can't do it ourselves.
The Physical Reality
When you're an employee at a company, you get to do your job. And, unless you think upon it, you might not realize how much other people do just so you can do your job.
Who prints and signs your check? Who makes sure the office building gets cleaned? Who stocks the office supplies closet, or goes out and sells to clients so there is revenue to pay you?
It's humbling, but when you become self-employed, all of those functions fall into your lap. And it is impossible, literally impossible, to do them all. If you're overwhelmed trying to make your business work yourself, there is good reason for it.
Frustrating - but don't despair. It may help to understand why it is this way.
The Spiritual Reality
As my Sufi teacher tells me, "Be the earth for your brothers and sisters. If you don't carry them, who will?... When you look into another's eyes, see the reflection of God looking at you."
The depth of this teaching really struck home when I realized that he wasn't talking to me personally - this teaching was for everyone. We're all asked to carry each other. Which means that we also need to allow ourselves to be carried.
When someone offers help, do you say: "Yes!" or do you say: "Nah, I can get it." If the bootstrap myth is operating in your business, there may be a hundred subtle and not-so-subtle ways that you avoid or turn away from help."
Lord knows I do.
And yet we are meant to both help and be helped by each other. This is one of the ways that we experience the Divine in our lives, through the actions, support and love of others.
Yes, I mean you. You are supposed to receive the Divine through the actions, support and love of others. You can't do everything yourself. And that's as it was designed to be.
Watch the wing-stretching and contortions you go through as you learn to receive more help. It will do much more than help your business, it will be a real experience of healing and growth for you as well.
Who can afford to hire an entire company of help?
Of course, not all of the help you get will be free, and there's so much of it to get. And you can't hire it all, especially early in your business. So what do you do?
After going through some big transitions ourselves, having grown up in a small retail business, and having worked with hundreds of clients, let me share some insights into how to prioritize.
Keys to Being a Successful Pseudo-Solo
First, Invest in Information and Learning.
I know, I know - it seems like a lot needs to get done, right now. Remember - millions of people have already done what you've tried to do. So, the best thing to do is to learn from some of them.
Get books from the library, or buy them. Take classes, free or otherwise. Find people you admire who have successfully navigated what you're trying to do and take them to tea or lunch and ask them questions. I've done about a dozen interviews with folks I admire and have them up in our online community for just that reason: The Business Oasis.
Make sure the information resonates with you. As just one example, marketing professionals out there are all saying more or less the same thing, so you can find one that your heart really resonates with and is speaking your language.
Second, Get Help With the Numbers.
I'll say this once: if you're running a business, you shouldn't be doing your taxes yourself. There are too many deductions and pitfalls and details. You want to hire it out, even if you think you can't afford it.
Related to that, as soon as you can, hire a bookkeeper to keep your accounting clean from month to month. Not only will it help you at tax time (imagine filing your taxes in the beginning of February!), but it will also help you understand your business better, simply knowing how money flows in and out.
Third, Experiment With a Virtual Assistant.
You may not be able or ready to hire out help. You also may have no idea how or where to start. I suggest finding a virtual assistant you like, who has strengths in areas that you get overwhelmed by easily, and hiring them for a very small project, maybe an hour or two. Then repeat in a month or so.
Over some months, as you both get to know each other, you'll get more comfortable with asking for help, and receiving it. Your business may need to develop before you hire a significant amount of help, but if you start small, it will be a much easier transition. And you'll get there much more quickly.
Getting help in your business is a huge topic. The trick is to face the simple truth that you can't do it all yourself, and that spiritually it's enormously beneficial to receive help.
Then, first get help by learning through books, classes, and other resources, second get help with the numbers with an accountant then a bookkeeper, and finally practice outsourcing to a virtual assistant in small, do-able, bites.
And watch how much more successful you can be as a 'pseudo' solo business owner.
The best to you and your business.
About The Author
Mark Silver is the author of Unveiling the Heart of Your Business: How Money, Marketing and Sales can Deepen Your Heart, Heal the World, and Still Add to Your Bottom Line. He has helped hundreds of small business owners around the globe succeed in business without losing their hearts. Get three free chapters of the book online: HeartOfBusiness.com