When I started my business in 2013, I was committed to serving as an independent consultant. This seemed easy – I didn’t have to oversee other people’s work and I could have complete autonomy about the clients and work I chose to pursue. However, as any small business owner knows, it is difficult (and quite nearly impossible) to operate any small business on your own. While you may be able to complete the actual work yourself – developing and selling a product or service to clients, you will likely need help with many back end functions such as accounting support, social media and email outreach, website and graphic design, and countless other tasks. You may even need help with the work itself – what if you get too busy or you need someone with a specialized set of skills or knowledge to complete a task?

When my business was in its infancy, I attended a Grant Professionals Association conference in Baltimore. I was scared about the competitiveness with other consultants and also becoming a business owner and learning how to manage my work. However, once I started speaking with other consultants, they were extremely helpful, offered a great deal of advice and feedback, and were even willing to follow-up afterwards. This made me realize that our ability to work together is powerful and that competition, while it can be healthy, is actually a deterrent. My work with other consultants and small firms actually helps my business in many ways.

People like Ayda Sanver and Kenya Lucas-Matos, with whom I have worked on a number of different projects, actually feeds my growth. Also, when I first started, Heather Stombaugh gave me a chance by retaining me as a subcontractor for almost a year. I also leverage the skills and expertise of others to provide bookkeeping support and social media management to ensure that the administrative tasks do not fall off the radar.

My point is that working alone does not make you smarter, it just means you are going to work harder. While spending money on other functions may mean a loss of income, it also leads to greater income generation in the long-term. I guarantee a growth in your business once you start allocating functions and focusing on the work you do best. We work better when we collaborate. Perhaps you just need to find your key differentiator so you can stand out from others. Who are your key partners?

 

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