If you're like most small businesses, it's more than likely that you're working alone. And you're single-handedly charting a course towards your destination. Which of course, leads me to believe you're either too macho. Or a little silly.
So can you indeed create a volunteer force? And how?
First you've got to get over yourself
It doesn't matter who you are, you can't do it alone. As a small business owner, no matter how much support you're able to get, you're still pretty much swamped with your growing business.
So your starting point is to recognize that you not only need help, but that help is at hand.
And um, freeeeeee!
Free! Now that got your attention, right?
So how do you get free help? And what help are we looking at, exactly? Let's look at three main areas.
1) Mastermind Group
Let's start with customers first
You may never have considered the concept of customers helping you out, but the fact is that customers are your greatest evangelists. They also desperately want you to succeed. They realise that when they help you out, they're also helping themselves, because they free up your time.
Yet most businesses resolutely avoid asking customers for help. These businesses believe that asking for help will compromise the business somehow. Yet, look at some of the most successful ‘businesses' in the world: religions. Every religion runs–and runs exceedingly well, solely on volunteer support.
When customer become involved, your business becomes theirs. No, they don't take over your business. They simply augment the business and help the business become far more successful than if you tried to do it all by yourself.
Forums are a waste of time
Yes it's true. Most people believe this to be true. That forums waste your time. Yet, it's quite the contrary. Forums help you work within a helping community. You help, and get helped in return.
More often than not, even in a like-minded forum, you'll get a variety of skills and abilities. A forum can help you cut through the clutter like nothing else. Yet, instead of using the forum to help–and be helped, most small business are silly enough to solve problems themselves.
Solving the problem yourself is silly because without a doubt, it takes more time. And there's no way to know if you're getting it right.
But there's more. And the fact is, when working single-handedly, you're often looking at the issue from just one angle. But in a thriving forum, you get forum members looking at the same issue from their own perspective. You may indeed set out to get an answer, and end up with a whole range of perspectives that you'd never even considered.
Yet most businesses do the dumb thing. They try to solve problems themselves without going on a forum.
But forums are public places
Yes, we understand. Some people may feel intimidated by the forum. The greater the quality of answers, the more a newcomer is likely to perceive their question as a ‘newbie question'. In a forum such as the Cave, all questions are treated with equal respect. And no question is too big or too small (or too newbie for that matter).
Yet you may, at some level, still be a little out of sorts in a forum. So then have a mastermind group. This is a volunteer force of two-three others with similar background (or even different backgrounds), whom you can turn to on a regular basis, with your issues.
Again, you get perspectives you've never considered in a mastermind group.
Of course, your burden is only going to get lighter is you do one or all of the following. And do it today.
Can you reach out to your customers?
Can you get back into a forum (like the Cave?)
Can you put together a mastermind group?
Working alone is for dodos.
And dodos are um, extinct.
Personal Experience: If you look at 5000bc and Psychotactics, a substantial part of our business has been put together in a ‘wiki-like' collaborative effort.
So many innovations, ideas and concepts have come from asking the members for help. And that help has readily been given.
We ask for help offline as well. We get volunteers for our offline events and this reduces our work-load and helps us do what we do best. Plus customers love to pitch in and help.
So why would you not take that help?
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