Things Every Polyentrepreneur Needs to Thrive: Support

See the full list of needs here.

 10. Support.

There are only 24 hours in a day, and at least a few of them (hopefully around 8-9) need to be spent sleeping.  So get it through your head now: you cannot do this alone. This might mean hiring employees, it might mean outsourcing some of your business functions, or it might simply mean that your siblings, friends, or significant other will pitch in every now and then. It should also definitely mean hanging out with your fellow polyentrepreneurs. : )

Hello! Welcome to the first full-length article dedicated to expanding my Top 10 Things Every Polyentrepreneur Needs to Thrive.

One of the defining characteristics of an entrepreneur is a do-it-yourself attitude; it’s kind of necessary to that “creating and running your own business” thing. Especially because when starting out the vast majority of us are forced by lack of funds to wear all the hats, even the hats we plan to hire other people to wear later.

In a polyentrepreneur this tendency seems to be even worse. I met one man a couple of years ago who truly mourned that he lacked the time and expertise to not only fully run the two or three businesses he was planning, but also to build his own house, grow his own food, even put together his own car! If he had his way (and infinite hours) he would do everything himself. And for many polyentrepreneurs, that draw is hard to ignore. Plus, many of our businesses are built on our talents – you can’t outsource or automate your singing, poetry, public speaking, or dance!

On the other hand, having someone to brainstorm with and bounce ideas off of, or who has a different set of skills than you do, can be a huge boost for your business! So can dropping off your receipts with a professional accountant and not giving a second thought to taxes. And, as mentioned above, there are only 24 hours in a day.

Obviously, no matter how much we might wish to keep our businesses all to ourselves, it’s not possible or even recommended. But how to we get from admitting that to actually applying it?

Identify where you don’t need to be involved.

Take a step back from your business(es) and look objectively. Every business, even one built around the talent of a specific person, has parts that can be outsourced. It’s hard to let that control go, which may make it hard for you to see what can be delegated, but there has to be something. Common areas that can be outsourced include: scheduling, marketing/pr, copy writing/editing, taking and editing photos, building a website, bookkeeping, and order fulfillment (if you ship physical items). Make a list of all the aspects in your business that you can let go of, even if right now you don’t want to.

Decide what kind of help you want/need.

Now that you’ve identified the areas of your business that will not whither away without your constant supervision, look at each area and decide who could take on that task. Some things, like bookkeeping or building a website, are best done by a professional (or a talented friend if you’re lucky); depending on your size and budget, outsourcing those may be beyond your abilities right now. However, other things, like shipping, can be handled by almost anyone; you could hire a teenager from your neighborhood or just have your brother or sister or significant other pitch in every now and then. If you want something in between, try putting out a general call for help on your personal Facebook page or in your circle of friends. You may be surprised who has helpful talents, which can also save you money if you’re in the shoestring-budget boat.

Don’t panic.

It may be that you look at your business, find some tasks that could be given to others, and then seize up. Will the person you hire package your items with as much love and care as you do? Could someone else know the best way to photograph your items? Could your PR person possibly understand your brand well enough to pitch to the right people?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Calm your fears by using a technique I heard about from Meredith of Smaller Box (a fantastic blog that I strongly recommend): train whoever you hire so thoroughly that they come to know the business as well as you do. Show your new hire how to package items and then watch him or her do it over and over. Show the photographer your previous product photos and explain what’s important to show (plus, honestly, anyone you pay to take your photos should have a good idea of how to shoot well!) Hire someone to do PR and then have them follow and watch you for weeks or even months until they learn to think like you do when it comes to getting press for your company.

In short, take whoever it is and mold them into the employee that you need them to be. (Within reason – with a different perspective/skill set, they may have good ideas that you haven’t thought of! Don’t squelch that.)

Get moral support, too.

There’s a reason this point on the list was called “support” and not “employees.” No matter how good your hires are, you still need your friends/family/community – and when you’re too small for a hire to make sense, they’re all you have! So reach out and find others who want to hear of your successes and are willing to listen to your gripes, who can lend help and advice in a pinch, who are rooting for you and truly want you to be your best self. For most of us there will be at least a couple of friends/family members or a significant other who fits the bill. You can also find support in Facebook groups, forums, and Etsy teams (if you’re on Etsy). You won’t be the best you can be if you don’t have the emotional support too.

The Top 10 Things Every Polyentrepreneur Needs to Thrive

This is the quick list of 10 things every polyentrepreneur needs to thrive. In the coming weeks I’ll be expound on each point with a dedicated post.

10. Support.

There are only 24 hours in a day, and at least a few of them (hopefully around 8-9) need to be spent sleeping.  So get it through your head now: you cannot do this alone. This might mean hiring employees, it might mean outsourcing some of your business functions, or it might simply mean that your siblings, friends, or significant other will pitch in every now and then. It should also definitely mean hanging out with your fellow polyentrepreneurs. : )

9. Access to multiple and diverse opinions.

Even with a regular business, short of one-on-one coaching there is no way that anyone has all the answers for you. As a polyentrepreneur this is even worse – the chances of someone else having the exact same blend of passions and businesses as you is pretty much zero. So instead embrace a wide variety of opinions and learn how to pick out what you can apply to your own situation.  Just be wary of casting the net too far – you don’t want to spend more time reading advice than you do applying it!

8. Trust in yourself.

Even the best support will do nothing if you don’t believe in yourself and what you’re doing. Some days this is easy, and other days it’s harder (I have a mood disorder, so I know ALL ABOUT it being hard) but just keep reminding yourself that you are awesome.

Also, learn to trust your gut when it comes to advice. I’ve had more than one person express misgivings about my current path (including a freaking MENTOR who suggested I just drop my business pursuits entirely to focus on school instead) but they’re not the ones walking it. I am. And my gut, my soul, my whole person feels incredibly excited and motivated when contemplating the challenging road ahead. Anything that gets you up in the morning is good, no matter what others think.

7. A challenging schedule.

When I started going back to school, instead of falling off my productivity with my business shot up; once university was out for the summer my productivity slowly dropped off again. There’s nothing worse for a polyentrepreneur’s motivation than having all the time in the world – that’s probably why most of us start up multiple businesses in the first place! Make sure you have many (within reason) and varied things to do, whether it’s a hobby, classes, going to the gym, a full-time or part-time job, or even just making sure you do a little bit for every business every day instead of focusing on one business a day. In fact, when I’m really having trouble focusing, I’ll even set my timer to go off every 5 minutes and switch my activity every time it does.

6. Your own space.

You’re going to be amassing quite a few things and you’ll need somewhere to put them all. Whether it’s as small as a cupboard or closet or as large as a whole room, make sure you have a place you can call your own. Make sure you keep it clean and organized so you don’t have to waste precious time trying to find things!

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5. Motivation, not jealousy.

Nothing will halt your progress faster than looking at what someone else has and getting grumpy. Instead of steaming, learn from them. Instead of feeling small, think to yourself “I can do that.” Use everyone else’s success and good ideas as a springboard for yourself. And anyway, isn’t that how a lot of our talents get discovered – by looking at someone else’s work and thinking “I can do that”?

4. Planning.

I’m not going to promote a specific form of planning because different things work for different people, but you’d better find out what does work for you and stick with it. To-do lists, calender reminders, planning your day hour by hour; whatever will ensure that you’re getting done what you need to when you need to. I use a combination of HabitRPG, lists written in my notebook throughout the day, and the occasional self-imposed deadline plastered anywhere I’ll see it to keep me on task.

3. Deliberate relaxation.

It’s even easier for polyentrepreneurs to burn out than regular ones – we have so much more on our plates! In all the hustle and bustle, it can be easy to forget to take time for yourself. Alternately, you may find yourself trying to take relaxation time, but feeling so much guilt about it that you cut it short and don’t let it do any good.

Repeat after me: you cannot succeed unless you take care of yourself. Repeat that now, and repeat that whenever you want to work through another lunch break, put off a nap, or lose an hour of sleep to get just one more project finished. And then head off to your bath, put down the phone and pick up the novel during lunch, or do whatever else it is that makes you feel like a refreshed and ready you.

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2. Passion.

I’ll admit it – being a polyentrepreneur is kinda crazy (if not outright stupid). The only reason to put yourself through this special cross between heaven and hell is because you have no choice. You’re passionate about too many things for them to line up and take turns in the coming years – you have to do all of them now. If you don’t have passion for it any more then get rid of it. You have too few hours in the day as it is.

1. Big fat dreams (that are written down to become goals).

It’s difficult to get anywhere without a goal to work toward, and the dreams of polyentrepreneurs are especially large – you have to have room for all your passions! And with a life so large, full of so many things, it’s necessary to have at least a basic road map to make sure you don’t lose sight of where you want to end up. Dream big, dream long, then make some goals and work toward them a little bit every day.

How to Know if You’re a Polyentrepreneur

 

1. Whenever you pass an empty building for sale, you begin daydreaming about what business you could put there.

2. Whenever you or anyone around learns a new skill you immediately wonder how you could best make money with it.

3. You cannot picture yourself working a “regular” job for the rest of your life.

4. While in college, you switched majors several times, had to take an extra semester or two to fit in classes for all of your interests, and/or double majored or minored.

5. You pick up new hobbies in the space of days, and are willing to try anything. (I don’t even drink and I’ve considered trying to brew beer.)

6. Any “your interests” field on a social networking site is a long, long list.

7. You keep branching out into new techniques, markets, and variations of your current business. (What if I make really long friendship bracelets and make them into dog collars?)

8. You know that trying to be everything to everyone is a bad idea, so you plan to serve several niches instead.

9. You are fascinated by all aspects of business and all types of businesses, even if it happens to be something you’re not interested in trying yourself (I recently spent a merry half hour with a magazine for pool company owners).

10. You never really grew out of wanting to be a ballerina space cowboy doctor when you grew up.

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You live colorfully.