About a month ago I was sat in a meeting when I was asked what I had learnt most about myself during the first three months of my new business trading.
It was a good, insightful question, and it forced me to pause and reflect on those first three months. What I realised was that despite being an introvert, what I and the business needed was collaboration. Let me explain.
I am a small business owner, which is slightly misleading as in reality, I am self-employed, so everything is down to one person, me.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working for myself, I am an introvert and value the time when I am working independently of others. Time to pause and think things through without interruption really invigorates an introvert.
There is a drawback to this though, and I suspect it’s the biggest hurdle any self-employed person must overcome. It’s not being able to collaborate. Collaboration to me means working with others, sharing and analysing ideas. Talking through experiences and learning from those that you are collaborating with. It enables small businesses to grow into larger businesses and beyond doubt, collaboration and communication are the primary reasons behind the reason that homo sapiens are the dominant species on this planet.
Over the last three months I have frequently questioned what I was doing (as you should), was it working, what could I change to make it better? I became consumed that as customers weren’t kicking my door down that something wasn’t right with the website. So, I would look at other websites, compare and make changes. Looking back that has happened several times over the last three months.
Collaboration offers the opportunity to discuss, assess, review and put heads together to open new ideas. What that collaboration brings is a collective stop, it’s like second order thinking in a sense that a discussion offers the opportunity to consider potential outcomes. Something that doesn’t happen when you can’t or don’t collaborate because you are consumed with confirmation bias.
“It’s not working; therefore, it needs to be changed!”
What I don’t have an answer for is exactly is how you overcome this when you are self-employed.
Certainly, having a mentor can help, depending on the access you have to the mentor. Given the self-doubt I have suffered with over the first three months having potential access daily would have been required!
All jokes aside though, a mentor needs to be with you from the start of your journey as a small business owner.
If you don’t have a mentor, what other options are there? Yes, you can discuss your business with family members etc, but they maybe don’t have the experience that a mentor has or the position to question you. If you are part of local networking group you could try them, but I think the challenge is that you will have to admit to your perceived weaknesses and that isn’t something most people want to do a group environment.
As you can see I don’t have the answer, if you do, please feel free to share.