Entrepreneurship – The Balance Between Self-sufficiency and Interdependence

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Last week I was featured in a weekly column by Mildred L. Culp, a Syndicated Columnist with the Knoxville News Sentinel. This series, called “THE RIDE” ™ captures the entrepreneurial experience and spirit. (Link to the story I was featured in.) The title of this particular column was “THE RIDE: Entrepreneurs enhance self-sufficiency”

Mildred L. Culp

In the article, both of us entrepreneurs who were interviewed spoke about the need to be self-sufficient. Often as an entrepreneur, I need to do many different things myself as I keep personally motivated to do all that is necessary for my business to succeed. But in the article, I was quoted by saying, “Independent spirit can be a negative thing if taken too far.”

Now I want to expand on this quote. There is a balance between being self-sufficient and also realizing there are many resources out there I can call upon to help me succeed. Even though I need to take ownership over every aspect of my business and be self-sufficient, that does not mean “going it alone.” The wise entrepreneur knows how and when to call on various available resources.

Here are some examples of how I have been using resources to help me succeed:

First, I am involved with several organizations pertinent to my business for networking and resources. Being in the diversity and career management space I joined and regularly participate in the Raleigh-Wake HR Management Association, the Triangle Society of Human Resource Management, the Triangle Organizational Development Network, and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Second, I availed myself of excellent small business coaching. Both my initial coach during start up, Vickie Bevenour of RDW Group, Inc. and then Nancy Heller of Right Management, have been invaluable with expert advice, encouragement and inspiration.

Third, I have spent time with experienced and seasoned colleagues who helped show me the ropes and supplied sage advice. Both Val Boston of Boston and Associates and Al and Keith Toney of AK Consulting Services are successful long-time consultants in the diversity space who have provided great guidance along the way. Sharon Hill of Sharon Hill International discusses speaking dynamics with me as well as encouraging me with her infectious super-positive spirit. And Katie Gailes of Smart Moves International and I have had mutual accountability meetings, and she gives me creative marketing and sales ideas.

Fourth, paid or contracted resources can provide excellent direction. My IT / website / video contractor Jim Manchester of IYI Creative Services has given me some stellar creative ideas as we constructed my website, and Lorana Price of Holy Cow Branding provided expert services to help with my initial launch and logo development.

And finally as a small consultancy, I know that partnering with other consulting firms is desirable. I may need to find partners when I find a piece of work too large for me or if I do not have all the expertise. Likewise, I hope other consultants will reach out to me when my specific expertise may be beneficial for one of their engagements.

Yes, entrepreneurs need to be self-sufficient, but that must be balanced by knowing how to use the myriad of available great resources.

Career Management – Part 3: You own your career!

In April I published Part 1 of this series about career road mapping, an innovative approach that I offer to corporations and professional societies using one page career maps of successful professionals within a targeted functional area as a way of providing career guidance and ideas to junior employees. Here is a link to that blog. Then last week I published Part 2, a blog on five career management principals. (Link to that blog). Now I would like to expand on one of those five concepts – that each person owns his or her own career.

Good companies will provide guidance, tools, education, career path possibilities and encouragement to their employees to assist with career growth and development. But ultimately, each individual needs to take full ownership and responsibility for his or her career. Only each individual knows deep within themselves what really excites them about their job and career and what they want to be doing. These are some of the questions each person needs to ask themselves as they plan their career:

• What is really important to me in my job? higher pay? Becoming an executive? Intellectually stimulating work? Better work / life flexibility? Enjoying the people I work with?
• What do I really excel at? How can I build on what I am best at to deliver business results and enhance my career?
• Do I enjoy being an expert of a certain function, or would I prefer to leave the details to others?
• Do I enjoy continual movement between roles and jobs and being challenged with new things?
• Do I like breaking new ground as an innovator, or do I work better in a familiar environment?
• Do I have interest in working in other countries, and does my personal situation support such a move?
• During my career, do I want to be a “people manager” or not?
• Do I thrive on executive interaction and exposure, or do I prefer “back room” analysis?
• Am I a “spreadsheet wizard” and love working with numbers, or do I prefer marketing and sales concepts and processes?
• Do I like to make presentations and explain things to people, even those in other countries or other functions?