Friday, August 3, 2007

Don't Do It Alone When You Go It Alone

Starting up a business as a sole proprietor or sole owner can be, well, lonely.

Sure, there are vendors to talk to, clients to work with, and all sorts of people to interact with during the day. But from the daily mundane minutiae to the gargantuan "what-ifs?" all the responsibility, the decisions, the risks, and the questions are yours and yours alone.

How-to books and business counselors are a help, but they can't take the edge off our human need for real support.

I had lunch this week with my mentor, a successful CEO of a leading women's health care products brand. I can't begin to express how grateful I am for the time she gives me. Her advice is invaluable, for one. But more than her answers, I rely on her validation.

In our lunch visits, I find space to put down the business burdens I'm carrying. I speak with her about my fears and ideas, the things I don't know and the things I'm finding out. When she relates to me the similarities on her own journey, it boosts my confidence. When I confess my worry that I don't have what it takes to be on my own, and she responds with empathy because she's felt the same way, it neutralizes my fear.

After I've had an hour with my mentor, I feel recharged and ready to take everything back on again.

Reach out and connect with other entrepreneurs. Join a networking group or club. Think about a person you admire and ask him or her to be a mentor. Take other entrepreneurs out to coffee and vent a little, share your fears, ask questions.

Going it alone doesn't mean doing it alone.

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