Today I am speaking to the self-employed.

Seems to me that when we are self- employed, we can often feel isolated and somewhat “in this alone” while we struggle with all the tasks and attempt to put what we have as skillsets to the best use. It is true that we cannot easily be experts at everything so we settle for being at least good in what we do best. It is the creative way we manage our time in relationship to our abilities that allows us to excel in the face of the challenges being self-employed brings.

This leads me to speak about another creative way to maximize and excel: networking. We may feel we are in this alone but in fact we do have resources at our disposal that may be of great value if only we reach for them. I am a huge believer that we all win when we work together. Simply picking up the phone and discussing small business matters with someone in a similar field may give insights to both of you that will assist in development of either businesses or projects. Attending business association meetings or bouncing ideas around over coffee is never a loss. Even taking time off can help.majestic

I know this seems far-fetched, but the truth is we are looking at creative approaches right? So let me explain.

In the past, I was involved with a business that involved heavy traffic flow from August to November with a huge push to complete everything, including full bridal image packages, by Dec 23rd. The last thing I should have considered was an invitation to go holiday shopping for several days out of town with a group of friends but I did. Although it seemed a frivolous venture, my escape to Kingston for some time to refresh proved to be more than a luxury. It proved to be almost as beneficial to my business and skill set as any seminar, workshop or book I have invested in.

Of course, that had a lot to do with who I shared my adventure with. The trip was shared with 3 other ladies who were also self-employed yet in a variety of fields. Being that it is indeed impossible to shop 24 hours a day mainly, we did manage to get much talking done over those three days. This is where the growth happened.

Since my three companions, named here Charisma, Contacts and Courage, came from non- photographic fields so our discussions were not based on the things I would discuss with colleagues but rather revolved around areas such as customer service, retailing, profitability and promotion as general topics which showed me new ways to look at these things. Their combined knowledge and experience was enormous.

Having seen these ladies function at their businesses and socially over the years, I had often been left in awe. Each displayed such strength under pressure. I envied what I believe to be natural skill something I was lacking so you can imagine my surprise when they told me about their share of struggles before, during and after what I perceived to be their ultimate successes. This new perspective helped me gain confidence in my future prospects. The helpful hints, constructive criticism and eye opening information share during this break made their way into my consciousness so that I came away from it not only refreshed but armed with new ideas about my work and myself.

Most importantly, the new found awareness that life, and all things worth having in life, takes participation and planning. Just showing up simply isn’t enough.  Much of what I enjoy today in my evolvement to where I am now finds its foundation in those few days away in good company and great conversation. I learned a lot and what I wish to pass on from this is that:

In times of challenges and when facing change it is important to remember that with a little creative thinking, an open mind and applied effort around these does pay off. I am not saying that success is purchased while on a shopping trip to Kingston however it can be found outside the box we create for ourselves while we forge ahead with blinders on.

Are you looking outside the box now and again? I hope so.