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Five Ways to Get Knowledgeable Advice to Grow Your Business

by Arianne Foulks

January 16, 2024
Arianne Foulks of Aeolidia teaching website optimization

This post was originally published in UPPERCASE magazine, issue #60.

Can you imagine how hard creating a business would be if you had to figure everything out yourself? Big things happen when we learn from each other, and here are some ways to level up when you’re self-employed.

1. Read, listen, watch

Much of the advice that’s shaped my business has come from books. Books go into more detail than you can usually find on the internet. I particularly like reading about subjects that can apply to any type of business, to build a strong foundation.

Beyond books, there are blog posts, podcasts, and video content. These starter tips can prevent you from making common mistakes. At times, I’ve found myself absorbing knowledge without taking action, and now I try to make sure I’m using what I’m reading.

  • Start here: Mike Michalowicz’s book, Profit First, is a must-read for sustainable finances. Traction by Gino Wickman is great for building productive teams.

2. Take a class

It can be worthwhile to have a teacher and group of peers for interactive learning. Classes tend to go deeper than what you can find for free online.

When evaluating a class, I look for a teacher who has seen their own sustainable success in their subject. I also want to see that they are keeping abreast of updates in their field.

3. Join a peer group

In a mastermind group, you can share experiences to help each other solve problems. One of my groups consists of very similar businesses, and in the other, we’re each quite different. It’s great to get both niche knowledge and outside perspectives.

Some people meet one-on-one with an accountability partner. I  also like to dig into problems and solutions when chatting with others in my industry.

  • Start here: Try joining industry groups and going to conferences and events. Consider any business colleague to be a possible mutual support.

4. Get a mentor

Sometimes you need to talk to someone who’s already gotten past your pain point. Who are the people you go to when you need direction on the next step for growth? Consider finding a few advisors.

A decade ago, my business struggled with profitability and timelines. I hired a consultant who had run a seven-figure creative business. He acted as our virtual CEO, providing specific solutions that I couldn’t find online or in a book.

  • Start here:  Someone from earlier in your career path could serve as an advisor. Organizations, such as the U.S. Small Business Administration, can pair you with a mentor. You can also hire a consultant.

5. Hire experts

There is only so much one person or company can be good at. It’s often better, once you’re established, to call in experts who know all the ins and outs. Particularly if what you need is not a core part of what your business does.

I’ve hired an agency to help us with software migration. I have an HR professional that I employ as issues come up. Our accounting firm is an ongoing partner. My own business, of course, serves this role for our clients. Artists and product designers don’t need to be experts at optimizing their ecommerce websites.

  • Start here:  What do you need to do next that isn’t a core function of your business? Ask your network or start searching to find a specialist whose expertise can lighten your load.

Success is about who you know and what value you bring. Mutually supportive connections with colleagues allow both businesses to thrive. Where could you use some help, and what can you offer?

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