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How Not to be 'Solo' as a Sole Practitioner: Finding Your Water Cooler Friends

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Nov 6th 2014
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There many advantages to owning your own business: you can dictate your own schedule, choose your clients and get the overall satisfaction of being in business for yourself. But one of the disadvantages that is often overlooked is the feeling of being alone. If you're not meeting with a client when you are just starting out, the majority of your day-to-day is actually spent alone.

When I worked for bigger accounting firms, I had the opportunity to interact with my colleagues and seek out advice from experts. I could ask questions, get advice, and got that simple water cooler face time that we often take for granted.

But once I went on and created my own accounting business, I was on my own. I didn't have a single client to my name and I had no idea how to manage different aspects of the business like administrative work, regulations associated with running a small business, and most importantly—how to market my services. The first thing I set out to do was to network. I knew that if I pounded the pavement and got my name out there, I could build my clientele and my business.

Before we had the kind of technology we do today for networking, I marketed on a shoestring budget. I would look through the local newspapers and sent letters to each business to see if they had a need for my services. I also attended meetings in my area for different organizations, such as women's and business groups, to network and market my services. The more I attended events and meetings, the more I started seeing familiar faces—other accountants and small business owners who were in the same stage of business as I was. Collectively, we started meeting on our own and formed a "support group" of sorts. Attending these events and meeting these people helped me to get in front of prospective clients and meet others who could eventually lead me to my next client.

I was also able to go to these professionals for advice on managing clients, getting marketing tips and business referrals, and finding support when business was booming—or not. Additionally, I started going to national conferences and meeting other people like me that offered similar services. I would learn so much, but additionally, make great connections professionally and personally. The best benefit was that it helped remove some of the "alone-ness" of being a solopreneur as my business began to grow.

Today there is social media, so use it! It's a great way to find and stay connected with other like-minded business owners and prospective clients. I've found that posting in LinkedIn groups and asking and answering questions is a great way to build a social community as well.

Being in business for yourself is exciting and rewarding, but it can get isolating, especially when you're first starting out. To mitigate the loneliness, put yourself out there and utilize all the available resources—in person and online—and you'll find that you and your business will benefit.

About the author:

Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP, CGMA, is the Global Vice President of Education and Enablement for Xero. In this role, she is responsible for developing and executing Xero's worldwide education strategy with a focus on Xero University (XeroU) and Xero TV. You can find other blog posts by Amy on business topics and yoga at: http://thedrishtiqcpa.blogspot.com/.

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