When you're used to the companionship of co-workers, going solo can be lonely. "The tendency may be to bury yourself in work," says Aimee Fitzgerald, who left the corporate world 14 years ago to launch Fagan Business Communications in her Englewood, Colorado, home. "Instead, get out and meet people."
Fitzgerald's solution was to form a support group for other independent public relations professionals. "Now I have people to run ideas by [and] to commiserate with," she says. Here's how to launch your own support group:
- Invite everyone you know who fits the profile of a prospective member. Fitzgerald's first members came from the local public relations association. Only five people came to the first meeting, but as the number of homebased entrepreneurs has grown, so has her group.
- Stay flexible. Fitzgerald's group meets regularly, but there are usually no set topics. "Sometimes we talk about subjects of interest to everyone; sometimes we break into small groups and discuss things appropriate to each group; sometimes one person has an issue to raise; and sometimes we just chat about whatever comes up."
- Harness the benefits of group buying power. Fitzgerald's group is considering several joint purchases. "Our professional society offers a huge library of videotapes. For an individual, the cost is prohibitive," she says, "but if several of us chip in, we can afford them."