Alone, Together: Five Reasons Why Solopreneurs Need a Business Coach
Going solo is becoming the norm, and for good reason.
The construct of a 9-to-5 workday is irrelevant and disconnected from the rhythms of our creativity and productivity. Sitting at a desk all day is literally killing us slowly. Our growth conforms to the shape of its container.
Well goodbye to all that.
Still, it’s not a decision to make impulsively; sure, the precarious nature of inconsistent income is scary, but you’ve prepared for that, right? You’ve shaped up your hustle on the side, you’ve built a bit of runway, you have a plan.
It’s the solo part that’s actually terrifying.
I’ve always been a team player. I thrive on the charge of the ionic bonds that form when a rag-tag group comes together, each bringing their own super powers to move forward with purpose. Whether in kitchens or design studios, the work I’ve tended towards has been unequivocally team-centric. Even considering some of the flaws and challenges of collaboration, I still believe that I work better together.
If I’m honest, as I’m just a few weeks away from my second go at self-employment, the thought of working on my own kinda freaks me out.
And if you’re also thinking about, or already are going it alone, maybe you’re kind of freaking out too.
So here’s one way to cope: get a coach. That’s what I did, and my prospects already feel brighter.
I know you’re probably thinking that the last thing you need to be doing right now is spending money on something you’re not even sure is, or will be a problem.
But consider this: as you’re shoring up resources to pad you for the unstable road ahead, working with a coach is like collaboration insurance. It’s disaster protection for when the road is too muddy or foggy for you to forge ahead without guidance. It’s making sure you’ll be picked up when you’re stranded, and knowing that you’ll be able to drive on after some quick repairs.
I recognize that for an awful lot of people, insurance of any kind can be a tough sell. I’m here to tell you that my own goal is to create a practical, accessible, and affordable offering, because, socialist that I am, I believe everyone deserves coverage for their creative productivity.
Here are five ways a coach is an ideal collaborator for a solopreneur:
1) They read between the lines
A coach is there to pan for gold in your stream of consciousness. They hear the nuances in tone, or pick up on “memes” in how you talk about certain things. They ask you the pointed questions that require you to put into words the point of view you didn’t even realize you could articulate. They’ll catch you spinning your wheels and help you move on from the precious ideas or trivial issues holding you back, tightening your grip on what really matters. They are objective givers of tough love.
2) They help you externalize your thoughts
One of the benefits of collaboration is the physical aspect of producing artifacts that demonstrate how the conversation and thinking progresses. You’re thinking out loud and the act of capturing your ideas makes them tangible. From my last coaching session, I left with an enormous roll of butcher paper, a 12-month plan mapped out in Post-its, and many pages of notes. These are your raw materials, and you will come back to them often. Wherever and however you’re able, create a space for your ideas to live. Keep your ideas where you can see them.
3) They are badass project managers
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got some unholy combination of notebooks, sketchpads, Evernote files, Google Docs, Trello Boards, and Asana projects. All of these are indeed awesome tools, but tools do not equal a plan. A coach will get you to line up milestones with clear tasks underneath. You will know exactly what you need to do to move forward, and a coach will help you remove distractions to prioritize what’s necessary to accomplish your goals. They’re also keenly on the lookout for procrastination gremlins and lame excuses. They'll will hold you accountable to putting down a date, and check in with your progress.
4) They set you up for deep work
In creative work, we can occasionally be prone to collaboration overload, forgetting the importance of striking the balance between talking and thinking. Recently, I spent a whole day in a very small room with my coach, talking, workshopping ideas, asking questions…it was completely exhausting, in the best way. At the end of the six hours, and indeed for some days afterwards, I was totally talked out. But I knew exactly what I had to do when I returned to the quiet of my own workspace. I could get right down to business marching toward a clear set of deliverables. Personally, I’ll always need to talk things out even during my work mode, which is why I’ve set up a Slack group with some other solo business ladies, but I can now optimize my moments of flaring and focusing much better.
5) They boost your confidence
Checking in with a coach will be a reminder that your ideas aren’t crazy or stupid. They just need work, they need perspective and refinement. A coach calls you to name your goals, to be specific, to be ambitious. You don’t have to believe in “manifesting” but there’s something liberating when you set a benchmark: I’m going to have two clients by March. I’m going to have 1000 email subscribers by May. I’m going to host my first supper club for just six paying guests. Whatever it is. You have something clear to work towards and you can be focused on what it takes to get there. If you miss the mark, it’s ok. Celebrate your progress and keep working.
Bonus reason: Working with a coach is fun.
It’s exhilarating. It’s deeply emotional in surprising ways. It’s not therapy, but it is a form of self-care to invest in your growth and your ideas.
Breaking out on your own is a brave and bold move, daunting because of the weight of feeling solely responsible for your own success. Naturally, you're a clever and plucky person who has a proven track record of figuring things out and getting shit done. That’s how you got here in the first place! And so you already know that doing meaningful creative work demands input and feedback, consideration and iteration.
A coach is not just a collaborator, they are a co-creator, they’re your silent business partner who is as invested in your growth as you are.
Ultimately, what your success depends on is your willingness to challenge your own ideas by putting them out there to see what they become when others touch them.
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