Little Drummer Girl
For me, one of the coolest things about being a business owner is I can march to my own drum beat. Knowing what needs to be done and how to go about doing it changes from day-to-day. I am thankful for the luxury of just going with the flow. When it comes down to it, isn’t that one of the biggest reasons why we want to own our own businesses? The down side to working by yourself is just that, you are working by yourself. Loneliness runs long and deep in sole proprietorship and we all have unique ways of dealing with the pressure.
One of the most common ways to cope with loneliness the business is to meet and surround yourself with your peers. Many take comfort in associating with others in their field of expertise. Monthly meetings and socials give the business owner the opportunity to exchange stories, ideas and generally feel like they belong to a bigger whole, a bigger cause.
Volunteering is another great way to open yourself to the outside world. Giving back to your community just for the sake of “because” is a wonderful experience. Non-profits are always looking for people to help and a great amount of work that gets done on a day-to-day basis gets done with the help of volunteers. Even if you think you field of expertise can’t be used in the normal fashion, think outside the box and come up with a unique way of helping out. There is so much knowledge you have that others could learn and benefit from it would be a shame to not share.
Building on this theme of volunteering, some gather the local peers and present themselves as a package of change for the non-profit. This is a great opportunity to make a big difference in a short amount of time! But keep in mind that working in a large group is completely different than working as a sole proprietor. I caution everyone to understand that if one person can make a 10% difference, 10 people doesn’t automatically make a 100% difference. Leaders of these group efforts need to find harmony in conducting a band of little drummers so it just doesn’t sound like demolition site.
Here are some guidelines for volunteering either by yourself or with a group:
- Establish both parties’ realistic goals.
- Establish both parties’ personal agendas.
- Except that volunteering will be a teaching and learning opportunity.
- Make sure everyone involved is on the same page before the event.
- Expect that all who are involved have different ways of moving through the process, plan accordingly. See #1.
- Be flexible. Things will change throughout the process.
- Even if the job is done or not, you had the opportunity to exchange positive energy outside your lonely office.
All of these things will help with communication and being pro-active. Setting up perimeters will make the process move smoother and respond to adjustment in program and achieving the ultimate goals of the non-profit.