Lost In Space

When breaking away takes you too far off the beaten path.
4 min read

This story appears in the May 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: I just started my own business and miss being in the middle of the corporate buzz. Is there a way I can stay connected?
Name withheld

A: Absolutely. The first step, though, is to figure out just what it is you miss about being in the buzz of corporate life. Being part of the daily routine of an organization provides us with a whole array of experiences. Some, like office politics and dreadfully dull meetings, we're just as happy to get away from. But others leave a void we must find ways to fill. Which of the following needs do you miss the most?

  • Feeling like you're part of a business community. You may want to join your local chamber of commerce and go regularly to luncheons, after-work mixers or evening meetings. You might also enjoy becoming active in various civic and charitable activities in your community. These can lead to valuable business relationships while keeping you up with what's going on in town.
  • Being in on the inside information and latest scuttlebutt in your field. You can replace this need by becoming active in a local chapter of your professional or trade association or by participating in their online list serve or forum.
  • The esprit de corps that comes from being part of a group that's working together toward a goal. If you crave experiences like this, you might want to affiliate with others and work on joint projects instead of working strictly solo.
  • Interaction with co-workers. Moral support and positive peer pressure to stay focused; someone with whom to bounce around ideas, celebrate victories and commiserate disappointments. To fulfill these needs, you might get together with a group of colleagues weekly over lunch. You can also call each other regularly to motivate one another toward your goals.
  • The expertise of superiors who provide solid advice, honest feedback, or input on strategies and crucial decisions. If you're missing this type of interaction, you might seek out a mentor, form an advisory board for your business, or hire a consultant whose experience you respect. Some professional associations have formal mentor programs. If yours doesn't, you might suggest they consider adding such a service and even volunteer to help organize it.

You may want to incorporate several activities like these into your routine to make sure you're still part of the action without losing the freedom and opportunity that being your own boss offers.

Small-business experts Paul and Sarah Edwards recently released their second edition of Getting Business To Come To You ( Tarcher). If you have a question regarding a start-up business issue, contact them at http://www.paulandsarah.com or send it to "What's Your Problem?," Entrepreneur, 2392 Morse Ave., Irvine, CA 92614.

Question 2

Q: As an administrative assistant, I never thought I'd do anything entrepreneurial. But my boss is relocating and has asked me to stay on with him here, although he won't need a full 40 hours of work. How might I freelance my services to other companies? Are there any resources to help get me started?
Sherri Chockley

A: You've been presented with an opportunity to establish your own office support service. A Yellow Pages ad is probably the best way to line up additional clients. Of course, the Yellow Pages only come out once a year, so in the meantime, respond to help-wanted ads and offer to provide what they need as an outside service. You can also network among small-business organizations or with other secretarial or office support services for whom you could do overload work. An excellent resource is the Association of Business Support Services International Inc. at (800) 237-1462. Their monthly newsletter and manuals provide pricing, marketing and other how-to information.

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