If you’re happy doing everything yourself and don’t want the opportunity to scale because you’re not interested in building a support team around you, then this isn’t for you.
If, however, you are keen to smash through that limiting threshold of how much you can do and how much money you can earn, then read on.
Building a support team is vital to business success, but that doesn’t necessarily mean hiring employees; there are far broader ways in which you can gain support from others to move your business forward.
A mentor is usually someone in your industry who can provide impartial advice on the bigger picture stuff relating to your business. You will have far less experience than they have and they will listen to your doubts, fears and dreams, then give you guidance on how NOT to make the same mistakes as others by instilling confidence in you. They are brilliant at getting you to think about what motivates you and how that can align with how you work.
I’ve found mentors incredibly helpful over the last 18 months. However, I was interested to read Sheryl Sandberg’s book called Lean In as she has a whole chapter called “Don’t Ask Anyone to be Your Mentor”. Sheryl believes that mentoring should come from people who are both more AND less experienced, and that combining advice from both will create a more productive relationship.
When someone asked Sheryl whether she was a mentor, her thoughts were, “If someone has to ask the question, the answer is probably no. When someone finds the right mentor, it is obvious … Chasing or forcing that connection rarely works. … The strongest relationships spring out of a real and often earned connection felt by both sides.”
I’ll readily admit that I didn’t realise there were a tonne of different types of coaches out there and I naively thought that it was a one-size-fits-all approach. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
There are coaches who you can turn to who can assist with super specific areas of your business. You may only need a few sessions with them to get back on track. You could even have more than one coach at any one time as their knowledge base will be completely different.
Here are just some of the types of coaching you may come across or find a need for:
- Presentation and communication skills
A mastermind is a group of like-minded professionals who are usually all on a par when it comes to the level of success or where they are in their careers. The group could be a bunch of business owner friends who want to have a trusted network so they can bounce around ideas and seek guidance from others who know what they’re doing.
There are also mastermind groups you pay to join. With these, there is usually a barrier to entry, either based on income level, success to date, or even on an invitation-only basis. Regardless, you’ll have to meet the criteria to be accepted.
Yes, I will acknowledge that investing in a mentor, coach or mastermind group will cost you money. However, the advice you receive will mean you are far less likely to make the same rookie mistakes as others before you. Think of the investment a sure-fire way to fast-track yourself to success.
These are contacts who you’ll catch-up with and talk about your future goals. You’ll check in with one another regularly and hold each other accountable when deadlines are upcoming (or even missed!).
The crucial aspect of an accountability partner is that they do have to give you a grilling if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do. There’s absolutely no point in having someone say, “oh, you didn’t meet your goal of X this week? Never mind.” They WILL hold you accountable and find out what went wrong so you can get back on track.
I would have been incredibly lonely had I not found the VA Handbookers facebook group which is chock full of VAs around the world.
Freelance life, in particular, can be lonely, so having peers enables you to have conversations with others who probably experienced the same things as you and will have relatable advice and guidance. These are people for whom you have masses of respect and ones who you must not view as being the ‘competition’. As I’ve said many a time, we all bring completely different skills and life experiences to the business table, so there’s only ever a need for collaboration, not competition.
These are business owners whose services are entirely complementary to your own. So that might be a financial planner and a will writer. Or a graphic designer and a web designer. The services each one offers are entirely different, but the clients of one are also highly likely to need the services of the other at some point as well. These relationships are brilliant for referring connections and generating additional revenue through warm leads.
Affiliate partners are companies whose products you love so much that you’d be happy to tell everyone about them. Well, if you’re acting as a sales ambassador for a particular brand, you might as well get paid for it! You’ll receive a unique link or code which means that when you pass those details on to someone, you receive a percentage of the payment too. Sweet! This can be an excellent little way to create a passive revenue stream for products you’d only be recommending anyway.
These are the people who work with you on the day-to-day stuff relating to your business. You’ve already done that ‘know, like, trust’ thing and are reassured that they have your back at all times. You respect their experience and knowledge, so their opinion counts. You’re regularly running ideas by them to gain an alternative point of view. You know they won’t totally poo-poo on your ideas, but you also know they’ll be honest about what they believe to be achievable given the resources to hand.
Summary – building a support team
Having a team around you will give you a vital support network, boost your confidence, keep you accountable, and help maintain your energy levels purely because you don’t have to do EVERYTHING on your own.
If you like the idea of having a Virtual Assistant on board as a trusted business partner within your business, I offer a free consultation and would love to hear from you here.