I am a part of a wonderful entrepreneur community led by Whitney Buchmann at Illustra Impact LLC. As part of that #solopreneur circle I recently led a discussion about outsourcing and scaling as entrepreneurs and, in my case, as consulting business owners.
I have decided to share some of the ideas I brought to this discussion in a few posts. Ideas learned along the way through lived experience and from mentors and thought partners whom I respect. I hope we can use this as a way to exchange knowledge!
1) As #solopreneurs and consultants it can be easy for us to take on contracts on our own. We can then control quality and ensure more profitability for our business.
That being said, years ago I heard an African proverb that has shaped the way my consulting business functions: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go in company.
When I first started as a consultant at Annie E Casey Foundation, my former teammates showed me how that proverb can be actualized in our field. When we scoped out the team for an engagement, we first sought to understand the need and what skill set was needed in order to best support the client and the problem we were aiming to solve. Only after that did we assess who we had and what skill sets they brought, and who else was needed at the table. This way of putting the community/client that we serve first and appreciating the collective power of multiple brains/expertise has been something I’ve attempted to uphold over the years.
When I am asked to come on a project as a thought-partner or a consultant (let’s be clear, I prefer the thought partner term) I often say yes not only because I feel I can be a great addition to the project. I also say yes because I have invested time and energy in building and joining a tribe of like minded, values aligned co-conspirators whom I know can bring value to the projects we join.
I say “yes, let me understand your need and see who else from my tribe should be at the table” because I have learned the value of co-conspiring in projects in order to ensure that the communities we serve receive the most well-rounded coordinated support.
Finally, I make it a priority to seek and excel at opportunities where my BIPOC teammates and I can be at the table from a position of knowledge and leadership. As I’ve said before, its no secret that if we’re not at the table chances are we’re on the menu.
Disclaimer: I realize this is not always the case and cannot always be achieved. After all, we ARE for profit businesses and should not be ashamed of seeking personal growth. However, if you aim to be a social enterprise – I believe it’s ours responsibility to expand the social contracts we’ve engaged in over the years that made it so that our people couldn’t have a seat at the table to begin with.