Business friendshipsBetter Relationship Podcast Episode #011

Cultivating Business Friendships as a Solopreneur

w/ Kelly McCausey 

Show Notes:

Is being a solopreneur lonely? It doesn’t have to be! Solopreneurship is about freedom and running your business your way, but there are many opportunities to form friendships and partnerships that will enrich your life and your business.

Kelly’s Bio

Kelly McCausey is a successful solopreneur and through her blog and her podcasts at , she is proving that solopreneurs are smarter. She has been making money online and doing what she loves since 2002!

Her Overview-What is Solo Smarts?

SoloSmarts is a podcast, a blog and a community for solopreneurs.

A solopreneur is an entrepreneur who is intentionally keeping it “light and tight” when it comes to running their own business.

They are doing it on their own, using ‘Artful Outsourcing’ and have no plans or wishes to one day open an office and have staff.

Solopreneurship is not a stepping stone; it is a lifestyle choice.

While solopreneurs can be found in any field (a home daycare owner is a solopreneur), Kelly’s market is online solopreneurs who are running their business virtually, which makes them so scalable and which serves the lifestyle of fluidity and flexibility.

What is Artful Outsourcing?

In Kelly’s case, Artful Outsourcing means that she has a Virtual Assistant and a bookkeeper who both work a minimal amount of hours and she also occasionally hires someone to do something specific if she just doesn’t know how to do it herself, but the rest of her business she runs completely on her own.  She will never have staff.

A lot of people consider solopreneurs as ‘hobbyists’ because they have no desire or plan to build an empire. However, she doesn’t really see it this way. She is making real money.

A smart solopreneur can scale up without having to create a ‘beast’ of a business.

Solopreneurs are rocking the online business world because they are light on their feet.

 

Successful Solopreneurship and The Maze of Female Friendships

When Kelly first got online in 2002, she was working full time and raising her 11-year old son. She got online out of necessity. She made a rookie mistake in that she bought her domain name and webhosting from a re-seller. When they went out of business, she lost her site.

In discussing her problem on a forum, she met another woman, Amanda, a work-at-home mom, who offered to help her and get her back online.  They ended up becoming friends.

The ‘work-at-home mom’ online forums that she spent a lot of time on in her early days was where she was doing her learning, where she was forming her first entrepreneur friendships, and a lot of those friendships still exist for her in a huge way.

Are Women Entrepreneurs More Willing To Help?

She finds that women ARE generally more helpful when it comes to entrepreneurship and guidance.   They are definitely more patient with newcomers.

Frequently, if you ask a question in a general forum, the answer you will get from a man is “Do your research before asking this question. It’s already been asked a dozen times”.

Women don’t do that. We will tell someone 10 times the same answer to the same question. We innately like to talk and to help.

One of those early friendships for her was Alice Seba . She was the one who encouraged Kelly to start her internet radio show back in 2003. The support and encouragement Alice gave her was 100% virtual and they became really good friends. They just met in person for the first time 2 years ago.

Are Online Friendships Real?

There is certainly potential for actual relationship bonds to exist and be real when you find someone that you have a kinship with

Another friendship that started out online is Nicole Dean

They met through a contest Kelley was doing for her internet radio show.   Later, they started working together. And, they met in person some years later.

Maybe because we’re women, we’re able to develop these relationships. The friendships that she has with these women are amazing. They’ve supported one another in business although they are direct competitors.

Genuine Online Friendships vs. Colleague/Transactional Relationships

“I don’t know how to have just a business relationship. I know how to have personal relationships.”

In the early years, Kelly was ‘hungry’ and desperate. But, she was willing to give whatever she could. She couldn’t give money, but she could give time, attention, skills and creativity. In the beginning, she looked for ways to barter for what she needed.

So, even though those early relationships might have been transactional, there was a transparency and an honesty about it.

You need something, I need something-together we can help each other. That’s how she created relationships with direct competitors.

She and Nicole are partners on Beachpreneurs .

With each project they have collaborated on, they’ve had very clear discussions about where are the lines/boundaries, what each is committing to, how they are splitting the profits, and they’ve both had a really good attitude about it.

They value relationship over finance. But, they’re not stupid about it.

They would both like the other person to benefit more than themselves, which sounds ridiculous but it creates a safety/comfort zone that works.

How To Have That Friendship AND Business Collaboration Successfully

Women like to do things together.   We have a tendency to think that the pie will go farther than it really does.

In other words, you can’t take on too many partners on a single project.

In Kelly’s partnerships, the parties draw the lines and communicate about it very clearly. If anyone is thinking about partnering on a project, she would highly recommend that you do something with a clear beginning and end to test it out.

She has been blessed in every partnership venture in that, at the end, there was good, strong communication and the relationship survived.

The fact that she gets to go into business with her friends and they can make money together is amazing, but if tomorrow, our business ended, we would still be friends.

People are way more precious than any dollar could ever be.

Does Tension Exist In Entrepreneur Friendships?

Of course, there’s tension. We’re women.

Sometimes we take things an odd way online. That is where Kelley has the greatest potential for getting her feelings hurt.   It’s partially because we all read “tone” into text.

She’s never had a disaster of a partnership but there have been people she would have liked to form a relationship with that never happened.   She felt like after knowing a little bit more she realized it wouldn’t work. She trusted her gut.   It didn’t feel like a safe place to mix friendship and business.

Can You Maintain Friendships With Non-Entrepreneurs?

Before the internet, she ran a home daycare. She ended up cultivating a friendship with Angel, who was first a babysitter for her, and then eventually became a roommate. Angel has incredible video design skills, Kelly kept encouraging her to make money with that skill because she assumed that other people have the same drive and entrepreneurial spirit that she has. She didn’t pursue the business which aggravated Kelly.

Kelly finally realized that it was not Angel’s problem but hers in that she was too invested and attached to what she thought Angel should be doing. She finally “released” her from all entrepreneurial ventures and saved the friendship.

Working Full Time While Pursuing Her Entrepreneurial Dreams

When she first started her online business, she was working at a church. She really kept it pretty under wraps what she was doing. Once it took off, she was afraid to say anything because she didn’t want them to think it was going to distract her from her day job, that it was going to pull her away.

Also, she had some friends that she felt that she couldn’t discuss her business with. The online world speaks a different language and she just didn’t know how to have those conversations with people who were not part of the same ventures.

So, some relationships became more distant. Some friendships ARE based around what you “do” for a living, so when others don’t know or understand what you do, it can create distance. But, none of her close relationships were injured.

Jealousy

There’s a big rumor that women are jealous and catty. She has never experienced that.

She spent so long not have anything to give that when she found herself in a better position, she was surprised to discover that she IS a giver. That was a big celebration for her and her friends.

Viewing your contemporaries as potential partners instead of competition is the pathway to leveraging greater profit.

Both she and Nicole are business partners and both teach content marketing, but they each have different programs that are complementary to each other. It’s a good opportunity for them to partner and each come out farther ahead.

If Kelley didn’t cooperate with Alice and her other entrepreneur female friends, her business would be a lot smaller.

If I’m successful and you’re successful, maybe we can both be more successful together (Susie).

Business Ventures With Direct Competitors

There are so many different ways to configure a joint venture.

You can set up a temporary cart, run it and split all the proceeds down the middle.

If one person has a larger reach than the other, which is often the case in first-time joint ventures, maybe the person with the bigger list uses their own affiliate link for the cart. The person with the larger reach is taking a bigger portion but the person with the smaller reach is getting exposure to that list.

There are many ways to be fair to all parties.

Closing Thoughts

Viewing your contemporaries as your collaborators and not competition will increase your reach and your profits.

You don’t need to ‘make time’ for friendships outside of your business-you can have friendships within your business.

 

You can find Kelly at her website www.solosmarts.com. Don’t forget to sign up for her free gift to you!

Susie’s Book:  www.ListenLearnLoveBook.com

 

*Show Notes by R. Pumphrey