Just As Beyonce' needed Destiny's Child, Tina & Matthew Knowles, PLUS Wyclef to produce her first hit single after years of performing, to succeed in business you need to have a squad too!
In this world of creative entrepreneurship, there are many things that hinder your progress...simply because creativity by nature is full of uncertainties. But there is a surefire way to overcome all of it all and ride in the carpool lane to success, prosperity and longevity: having a SQUAD full of other like-minded individuals.
Besides managing the societal pressure to "just get a real job", you have to deal with your inner voice nagging you with questions like: "How do I bring more attention to my work? Maybe I need a publicist but how can I afford one? Should I hire someone to shoot my new collection or take a photography class? How will I fund my next project? Where can I host a Pop-Up Shop? How will I get press coverage to my exhibit?" And the list goes on and on....
And yet, you trek on doing as much as you are capable of each day, much of which having NOTHING to do with your actually talent, always busy moving, working, GRINDING but going no where fast. There may be some progress...a successful grand opening, a positive review in a local publication, a celeb wearing one of your signature pieces...but not the continuous flow that you need to maintain your ascension. You are getting frustrated and feeling burnt out more often than not. You think you need to just "work harder" but the truth is that you need to come to accept the reality that you cannot do it all alone. Behind every starlet is a team of backup singers/producers/hair stylists/assistants and a managers. Every star has a squad.
You need to come to accept the reality that you cannot do it all alone. Behind every starlet is a team of backup singers/producers/hair stylists/assistants and a managers. Every star has a squad.
1. You don't know it all.
No one does! And it's not your job to know it all, it's your job to do what you do best brilliantly and outsource the rest. One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received came from fashion designer Tory Burch while attending a dinner she hosted for entrepreneurial women in her NYC design headquarters. She said bluntly, "outsource EVERYTHING. Do what you do amazingly well and outsource the rest. It's the only way to grow." When you have an amazing squad, outsourcing your projects is as simple as placing a phone call (or sometimes, just a text will do!) because these are your homies and they "get" you already. They understand your vision and they want to see you succeed.
Take me for example: My daughter has her own line of gluten-free gourmet brownies and about 2 weeks ago I posted on FB what our concept was for her logo. Within hours, one of my good friends who read the post, dropped three GORGEOUS versions of my concept onto my FB wall and after tweeking them for me after a quick chat, all he wanted in return was a case of those super yummy brownies! Why? Because he's fam and fam looks out for fam. If you have a tight squad of like-minded people, imagine how much of your projects you'd get accomplished on the barter system or through strategic collaborations where everyone wins!
"outsource EVERYTHING. Do what you do amazingly well and outsource the rest. It's the only way to grow." -Tory Burch
2. Opportunities are abundant and overflowing when you have a great squad.
On any given day my inbox is full of much more opportunities than I could have ever gained on my own. Let's just look at yesterday's inbox opps:
A playwright friend needs me to do a costume design project for her new production.
A publicist friend needs 50 of my Handpainted Leather Bookmarks for her client's book signing happening at West Elm Philly.
A friend of mine, the CEO of an organization for girls would like to take my enterprising daughter to see the Black Girls Rock! Awards Show....
This is just the last 24 hours, y'all and these are opportunities I didn't have to pitch or jump through hoops for. They fell directly into my lap. Why? Because they came through my squad. People work with people they like. Simple and plain. This is why so much business is conducted in social settings like golf outings. Build yourself a squad of lady bosses and watch your cup runneth over too!
People want to work with people they like. Simple and plain.
3. Instant reputation boost. You are the company you keep.
This can not be overstated. You are judged by the company you keep. I'm not suggesting that you drop your "ride or die," Sheniqua-from-around-the-way, to only spend your time with your upwardly mobile crew but you should definitely consider the affect your relationships have on your reputation because you are judged by the company you keep. For better or for worse.
Just recently, a friend of mine knew of a writer who was seeking Black business owners with great products to feature at Essence.com, one of the leading online sources for Black style and culture. My friend emailed me the opportunity and said to drop her name to the writer to be put on the top of the list. The writer received hundreds of submissions but I was chosen of the few to be featured thanks to my relationship with our mutual friend (and of course because I have great products!). She trusted my friend's suggestion and even thanked her for sending me her way. If Sheniqua-from-around-the-way is more likely to get you into a bar brawl than to bring positive media attention to your business, you might want to take your squad goals a lot more seriously.
...you should definitely consider the affect your relationships have on your reputation because you are judged by the company you keep. For better or for worse.
4. You need morale support.
Your family may view your self-employment negatively. Your friends from college may be breaking glass ceilings in the corporate world and measure success on salary, office size, and benefit packages. So who do you turn to to celebrate landing a new client or winning an art competition? And who do you call when you're at your wit's end and drawing a blank on how to solve a problem with a project? If you are a solo act, there are no colleagues down the hall to confer with. You must build your own team to stay sane and to attain the level of success that matters to you: freedom to work at home and be with your family, unbridled creative expression, travel, and the real possibility of fame and fortune.
When someone on your squad launches a new book, you are there to cheer her on because you know what it took. When your homie is on the morning show sharing her financial knowledge with the world, you are doing your happy dance in the livingroom because you know she worked her buns off for that platform. And when you make the cover of a trade magazine and your dad doesn't seem to notice, your squad most definitely will and they'll be cheering for you.
You must build your own team to stay sane and to attain the level of success that matters to you: freedom to work at home and be with your family, unbridled creative expression, travel, and the real possibility of fame and fortune.
5. You gain a powerful thinktank.
Nothing quite beats having access to brainpower outside of your own limitations. When I get together over brunch with my lady boss friends, I always leave transformed. There will be a resource recommended, a contact at a place to use for my new exhibit given, advice on how to execute the marketing of my next project, or some kind of epiphany that blasts me to the moon! You can't pay for this type of feedback, encouragement and access to information that a great squad provides.
You can't pay for this type of feedback, encouragement and access to information that a great squad provides.
These are just some of the reasons behind the 1st Annual Creative Women Entrepreneur Weekend Retreat happening this June. So many of us get exasperated with the weight of the business world on our shoulders and give up instead of letting go all but what we do best. Why? Because the support system to run their businesses like a well-oiled machine is lacking. This retreat will solve that problem for the women in attendance. Will you come on board and build your squad?