Working Solo: Trust Yourself

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Working and living small.

Not long ago I traded emails with a colleague and former client who, after two decades in a middle-management communications role, went out on her own after a company reorganization.

She soon after landed an anchor client but also ran head on into some of the pitfalls of working solo. Namely, isolation and lack of collaboration.

“I’m finding the biggest challenge of working solo is that I don’t have people to bounce ideas off of, review copy, etc.,” she said in early October.

And then she asked this:

“I always liked collaborating with my team and now it’s just me! How do you deal with it?”

“I don’t know if I have a good answer for your question about working solo,” I replied. “It’s sort of like wandering in the wilderness if you’re not partnering or working with others in some fashion.

“For me, a lot of it comes down to trusting my abilities and judgment about creative matters, writing, communications, etc. There aren’t a lot of other options. I have friends and colleagues in the business, but I don’t usually want to bother them with my stuff because I know they are busy trying to scratch things out for themselves.

“I can also say, ‘My poor wife.’ (Ha ha.)

“I bounce things off her, especially creative concepts and anything that seems pretty important. She has a business background and is a good sounding board. But a lot of times it’s just me going it alone, which is the nature of the beast.

“There’s an advantage to this, too.

“I believe you’re bringing something valuable to clients–an outside perspective, a fresh perspective, plus your years of experience and expertise.

“This is truly valuable, because companies and organizations get bogged down, can’t see themselves clearly, and, to be honest, are often too self-absorbed to understand how they need to communicate to their audiences in ways that will connect.

“Maybe all of this to say: Trust yourself.”

I ended my message by telling my colleague that she could use me as a sounding board, if that would help.

She responded favorably to my email, writing, “Good advice. Trust myself!”

What about you?

If you work solo, how do you generate and test your ideas while working in a vacuum? Do you bounce things off others? What are your biggest pitfalls of working solo?

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