Working for yourself can be hard.
With the singular goal being “Create your own paycheck,” some former cube-dwellers have days when they long for a little more direction.
As awful as goal setting can be inside corporations, at least you know what to do, what the measurements are and when to deliver results. If you don’t deliver, you get dinged. And this, while annoying, can be very motivating.
In the past six months, I have discovered a trick that has not only sped up my productivity, given focus and direction, but has created much more hilarity and joy in my life.
I started working with other people.
Call it what you will: joint venture, team project, co-production, it all boils down to the same point:
It is a heck of lot more motivating to build something with someone else rather than do it alone.
Here are some examples from my own business this year:
- Quickstart to Self Employment, a group coaching membership site that I created with Susie deVille Shiffli, Matthew Scott and his partners at Strategic Incubator.
- KickAss Mentoring Mastermind with coach partner-in-crime Michele Woodward
- Escape from Cubicle Nation workshops with guest stars Tim Berry, Colleen Wainwright and Jonathan Fields.
- Special Escape workshop for web entrepreneurs in Atlanta with a wonderful collection of organizations, spearheaded by Mike Schinkel and including Gravity Free Radio, Ignition Alley, Regator, Tech Drawl and Startup Chicks.
- Special Escape workshop in Charlotte, North Carolina, spearheaded by John Bradberry and including The Innovation Institute at The McColl Center for Visual Art, Edison Nation, Topics Education, Charlotte Regional and Economic Workforce Recovery Initiative and many more, listed here.
- Micropreneur Academy with Rob Walling
- Coaching Millions Supersummit with Milana Leshinsky and tons of other subject matter experts
And I have a bunch more projects in the hopper, including:
- An offsite retreat in February in Arizona for creative entrepreneurs with productivity wizard Charlie Gilkey (at my favorite Saguaro Lake Ranch)
- Contribution to “How the Fierce Handle Fear” anthology with Sophfronia Scott
- Escape from Cubicle Nation workshop in a box (or is it outside the box? Brand name forthcoming!) with 4 stars from my Quickstart Program, Christy Risser-Milke from Online Sound Advice, Kelly Kingman from Sticky E-books, Karen Yaeger, videographer extraordinaire, and George Daffin, seasoned consultant and marketer.
- Program on Mastermind Groups with Karyn Greenstreet of Passion for Business, in the early stages of development.
All of these ideas came out of a very simple formula:
I liked someone
We got to know each other (mostly online)
We talked and said “What are you working on?” and “What would be really fun to do together that our people would love?”
Here are examples of others:
- Hugh McLeod and Seth Godin’s Purple Cow Extravaganza in NYC.
- Sonia Simone and Naomi Dunford’s Marketing for Nice People
- Andrea J. Lee’s collaboration with Coachville to bring Thomas Leonard’s work to print
- Molly Gordon’s Self-Employment Telesummit with a host of teachers
- Weight loss coaches Bridgette Boudreau and Jennifer Voss on The Grownup Girl’s Guide to Losing Weight
- Havi Brooks and Laura Fitton on The Strategy of Being Non-Strategic
- Chris Brogan and Julien Smith co-writing Trust Agents
- Ignite Phoenix, which just keeps getting better and more extensive every time I turn around. That is of course because we have cover boy Jeff Moriarty on our side, in addition to superheros like Evo Terra, Charlene Kingston, Brian Shaler and Tomas Carrillo.
So if you are just a nice person working in your home office without a huge network, how do you start?
1. Notice the characteristics of people you really like to work with.
These can be things like:
Green (as in environment, not as in Kermit)
Great teaching skills
Unique use of profanity (yes Naomi, I am talking about you)
2. Look for them online and at in-person events.
The more you pay attention to people who light you up, the more you will recognize them.
3) Start talking.
Exchange barbs on Twitter, send emails, talk on Skype, meet for coffee.
Read their stuff. Comment on their blog.
If you enjoy the conversation, continue it.
If you feel resistance, or distance or the cold shoulder, back off and go in search of other good partners. Pushing is not part of a good partnership, both people should feel naturally drawn to work together, and feel mutual benefit.
If the conversation is still cooking,
4) Talk about the kinds of things you could deliver to your combined audience if you worked together
Go nuts brainstorming. Imagine all kinds of things you could do together.
5) Start with something small
Do one teleclass together. Or build one small software product. Or invite the partner-in-courting to be a guest speaker at your event.
See how it feels to work together. Do you feel natural? How do your people react to your new buddy? Is the energy good? Is your work better by working together?
Some people are exceptional pub mates and terrible work mates. Make sure your partner delivers on commitments and represents you well.
6) If it works well, do more.
I swear I am not trying to insult your intelligence. It really is that easy.
What does great partnership look like?
Perhaps the best way to understand true partnership harmony is to watch this video to see the chemistry embodied in the partnership of Rhett and Link:
Have fun, play around and cook up some joint ventures! Let me know what you are working on, and ask for ideas and assistance from partners in the comments!