There are two types of support for the self-employed. Usually, people think only of the first – material or financial support. But although it is less tangible, the second type of support is every bit, if not more, valuable.
Moral support is psychological support. It is having people, who have your back. We all know how tough it can be working for yourself. When and if you face a situation that causes you to lose heart, that person or those people, who believe in you and care enough to spend time listening and helping you to make sense of a situation, that is what will help to keep both you and your business afloat.
Succeeding is ultimately a test of character. Cash helps of course. But without personal resilience and self-belief it is almost impossible to truly succeed.
A few of us are self-sufficient in those characteristics. Others may have a business or life partner who meets that need, or perhaps close friends or relatives. But for a large number of self-employed people, getting the moral support you need is a matter of being organised.
Coaching or counselling
If you don’t want to leave it to chance, then it’s time to invest in professional support. Depending on your needs this is likely to mean 1-1 support from a trained and experienced coach or counsellor, who you can talk to face to face, online or over the telephone.
What’s the difference between a coach and a counsellor? A coach is someone who helps you to move forward, by working with you to create a vision of where you want to be, set clear goals to get there and help to support your progress towards them. Group coaching in mastermind circles can also be powerful.
A counsellor is someone who helps you to explore and resolve problems through purposeful conversation. They are non-judgemental and won’t give advice but will help you to understand your behaviour patterns and make better decisions. These days you can access quality conselling services wherever and whenever you need them, as this article explains.
A mentor is usually someone more experienced or senior, who agrees to meet with you regularly to share their experience and help you to reflect on problems and opportunities. Like all good forms of moral support, a mentor shouldn’t ‘tell’ you what to do or advise, unless you specifically ask. Their role is to guide and help you assess options, rather than being directive.
Mentoring relationships often evolve informally. If there is someone you admire and think you could learn from, it’s worth asking if they would consider mentoring you. It helps to have a clear structure from the beginning, for example agreeing how many times you will meet and for how long. Respect your mentor’s time and don’t overload them with too many communications between meetings. Be on time and pay for the coffees!
If you can’t find a mentor through your own network, then it is worth considering the government-supported, national business mentoring network Mentorsme.
Networking can be a great way of meeting peers – other people in the same position as yourself. It doesn’t need to be the traditional in-person networking event either, anywhere that you can connect with other people like you will do! You can network at your exercise class, at the school gates or via social media. What’s important is finding people who really understand the pressures and prizes of being self-employed. Self-employed friends who you can talk to about your issues and who really understand.
Wherever you find your people, make the most of the moral support they give to you. If you have to pay, then see it as an investment in your business and your future. It will pay off. Wherever you find your community of support, treasure it, and make sure that you pay it forward to other fledgling businesses as well.