One of the immediate changes I felt quickly after leaving MHE and starting a new venture was the absence of a group of really smart people, passionate about education and ed tech, that congregated every day, at the same place, at the same time, all working towards a similar goal. We may have been covering different disciplines or technically been in different groups, but we were all on the same team.
This was a group of people always open to sharing best practices and learning from each other. If I was ever thinking of a new product or a new approach or a different kind of campaign, I would stop by a trusted colleague’s office or call and ask them to poke holes in my plans. If I saw a team was extremely successful launching a product and wanted to know what worked well for them on that occasion, I would ask to set up time to speak with them and get their perspective on what they learned that could impact other teams. They were always willing to share their success stories (and even their failures) to help others learn. Even if I needed legal advice, I had trusted counselor one floor away.
So, when I started working on the business plan, website and legal documents needed to launch my own company, I became extremely aware that I was - as I intended but in a way I perhaps hadn’t really thought through - completely on my own.
Build Your Tribe.
What I quickly learned if you want to make it on your own; you have to find your tribe. You have to build up a network of trusted colleagues, advisors, friends whom you can have that kind of relationship. I’ve been extremely fortunate with a community of small business owners who have gone out of their way to give advice; from thinking through if I should take on some first projects, to accurately determining the time a project may take, to putting through my first RFP, to creating SOWs, to even sharing those small little tactical pieces that have saved me a ridiculous amount of time (i.e. Harvest App for tracking time, projects, and easily invoicing - game changing).
Now I have a larger team of people working with me, and I have clients where I have built close relationships with the people on the team; but just as when I was managing a large team at a large company - the team you surround yourself with makes all the difference, even when you’re launching your own company. Perhaps even more.
5 months in I am busier than ever, enjoying the challenges that come with this every day, and THANKFUL for those of you who have been a part of the journey.