Progress Killer #3: Don’t Try to Go it Alone

The myths and realities of what it takes to run a successful business

Image of a man alone in the desert

We have a myth about the entrepreneur — that he (and in the myth, it’s always a “he”) is an insane risk taker, that he has magical powers to see a future no one else can see, and that he listens to nothing and no one but his own gut.

This is about as realistic as telling you you can learn everything about business and marketing by going to Hogwarts.

There’s no such thing as wizards, magic wands, or cloaks of invisibility. And this maverick go-it-alone entrepreneur is as fictional as Harry Potter.

What it really takes to launch and run a successful business

If you look around at people who are actually running great businesses (both big ambitious ones and satisfying little side businesses), they don’t look much like our mythical entrepreneur.

Specifically, they have some skills that our maverick doesn’t have — skills you’re going to need if you want to make your business work.

I’ve been touching on this one here and there, and today I want to really get into it.

The underrated business talent

Look at the people whose businesses do well over the long run, and you’ll find people who are good at getting along with other people.

They might be opinionated, brash, or outspoken. (They might also be quiet, reserved, and introverted.) But they know how to make connections, and they know how to take care of their friends.

What’s the most underrated talent in business? Good manners.

Business — all business — is about people.

  • It’s about nurturing prospect trust and letting people know you’re one of the good guys.
  • It’s about customer relationships and treating buyers with respect.
  • It’s about treating your employees well, so they’ll go on to treat your customers well.
  • It’s about building partnerships, so you can go further than you ever could on your own.

People are the ones who buy and sell things. Product catalogs don’t. Search engines don’t. Metrics don’t.

If you don’t have the people part right, the rest of it will eventually fall apart, no matter how great your numbers look.

Is it really “who you know”?

Sometimes people say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

But of course it’s both.

You need to know enough so you have something to offer. You need to bring something to the table, or why are you there?

This isn’t kindergarten where you get a gold star just for showing up. You need to provide value, to know your topic, and to be able to genuinely help your customers and partners.

But you can have all of those things covered, and still fail.

There are plenty of brilliant failures out there. People who are incredibly smart about their topic, and incredibly dumb about
other people.

No one builds success all by themselves. Steve Jobs didn’t design the iPhone. Brian Clark doesn’t write software. Walt Disney didn’t animate Snow White.

If you want to go far, go with a group

Sean d’Souza quoted a great African proverb in a recent Copyblogger post.

If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a group.

If you’re knocking out a great little ebook or a valuable small product, you can absolutely go it alone. Spend a weekend, crash through it, and get it done.

But if you’re building for the long haul — even if it’s a simple side business that makes $500 or $1000 a month — find a group to make sure you make it all the way across the desert.

Obviously, I’m going to suggest that the Third Tribe is a great way to do that. But it isn’t the only way.

Look around in your topic and start making friends who have blogs with a similar-sized audience to yours. (They might be writing in your topic, they might not. But look for people who want to create a business, not just a blog.)

Dig your well before you’re thirsty

That’s the title of a networking book, and it’s excellent advice.

Don’t wait until you lose your job and have to turn your hobby into a thriving business.

Don’t wait until you lose your big client and 90% of your revenue.

Don’t wait until a Google change cuts off most of your traffic.

Don’t wait until you’re desperate. Start building your network now.

Mix it up a little

Sometimes I see people who only want to network with big-audience bloggers, or business owners who are already highly successful.

It’s great to make those connections, but don’t ignore the full range of your network.

Connect with people who are just starting out. Connect with people who are about where you are. Connect with people in other topics. Connect with customers. Connect with social media chatterboxes. Connect with introverted experts.

The more diverse your network is, the more powerful it is.

And of course, don’t be a mooch. There is nothing that repels connection faster than someone who’s always asking and never giving. Be generous, be friendly, be open to unexpected connections, and be a good egg.

Today is the last day to sign up for the Third Tribe

We’re closing our open enrollment period today, so if you want to get into the Third Tribe for all of the connections, marketing education, expert Q&A, Take-Action workshops, and the amazing 24/7 network, now is the time.

Find out all about what the Third Tribe can do for you, and sign up today

Sonia Simone

Third Tribe open enrollment closes today, Monday, June 18 at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. If you miss this enrollment period, you’ll need to wait for the next one before you can join us.
Click here to learn more and sign up today.