help-for-freelancers

Since I’ve been on the journey to getting a full-time job, I’ve been reflecting on the impossibility of being self-employed in the creative sector.

I’ve long since lamented my inability to achieve great momentum in the realms of skilled labour. By that I mean a job that requires expert hands to do more than touch type. My good pal Steve Wright, a plumber, can knock up a pristine wet room in a couple of days. Everything plumbed in. Buck Rogers toilet. Me? I often use a screwdriver to stop pieces of paper blowing off my desk. You get the idea.

And if you have some very defined skill, you know where you’re at. People need you. You knock up some leaflets, do the rounds, build a website, give some offers to your loyal customers, and thrive on word of mouth marketing. If you’re not good at what you do, some of these chapters in the process will be a little kinked. Retrain, or find a new passion.

But the lines get blurred for anyone who provides a service we could live without.

Take me (no – take my mother in law! Tips in the jar). Journalist, marketer, author, broadcaster and social media expert (but only because they told me so). How the heck do you wrap all that stuff up and turn it into an irresistible commercial proposition?

Search me. I’ve been trying to get that recipe right for years. Like an unproven ball of dough, it’s stayed a little flat (I’m quite proud of that analogy).

And the reason why I’ve never nailed it to the point of satisfaction is I’ve either jumped between specialisations too soon, or simply not sought the right advice in the right places.

I and only I can stop making like a horny grasshopper.

When it comes to the advice, the support, I’m stumped. And I don’t think I’m the only one.

@davethackeray ha ha ha, business support!?! From who? Others in the community, yes, but nothing official.

— Gary Smailes (@GarySmailes) February 20, 2013

There’s a problem here. My pal Paul says there are more people picking up self-employed status every day. Thousands, every day. In a slumped economy. Not the best time to get your game on alone, unless you’re Warren Buffett and have disposable income way beyond nine figures (and in any case, I have my suspicions he isn’t alone as the guy behind Berkshire Hathaway which renders him void in this comparison).

And where there used to be a form of advice on the table known as Business Link, in these austere times that has been thinned to zero.

@davethackeray What business support?

— Andy Mabbett (@pigsonthewing) February 20, 2013

I’m not a clever guy. I’m a little logical and times, which I confess startles my parents, but I know I’m not flying solo here as the guy thinking we could be doing better helping the self-employed get their game on.

Sure, there are guides and processes written to address almost every common business issue. If you can’t submit your self assessment on time, that’s pure lazy.

But there are few resources available when you need to expand your mind on a problem. To take your business to the next level. And you can only read Michael Gerber’s E-Myth Demystified so many times before the words start evaporating on the page.

I’ve wracked my head over how to overcome this lack. I know the answer doesn’t lie in BNI. Perversely there are too many people in business networking right now to gain for themselves, and not for the community. These concepts don’t need a revolution: they need withering to extinction.

What do we do?

Every new business owner should sign a pledge committing to a year of monthly mentoring sessions from people who are STILL in business – not those business coaches who last ran their own operations a dozen or more years ago.

Consistency and persistence is what every business owner needs when it comes to knowledge sharing and generation.

I’ve always been fascinated by the mastermind group – when six people come together and discuss problems, challenges and opportunities. Power of the collective mind.

But I think the solution will be wrapped up in something more comprehensive: a P2P business networking system.

Now then @richardbranson, would you consider working with me on a NFP p2p business support network? Millions need this.

— Dave Thackeray (@DaveThackeray) February 20, 2013

The only way to learn is from experience. And the experience doesn’t need to be yours. That’s where peer-to-peer comes in.

It works much the same way as p2p file sharing – they have something you need, so you get together and the information is yours. Beautiful. Symbiotic.

Right now I need a hand applying marketing techniques to my business. There are literally millions like me and in the same boat. But where do we go when we want to talk to someone with ideas or experiences to galvanise our efforts? How can we help them?

What we need is someone to stick their head above the parapet – ideally David Cameron or one of his cronies – and help me create this network of free and committed business networks that don’t exist so you can get cheap referrals, but so you can genuinely and sustainably grow your business. Or even start your business. Because right now, I don’t even know if my business has even begun.

Let me be clear. Resources do exist:

But not a single one of these could possibly cater to the individual entrepreneur and their very distinct needs.

I want to talk this out with someone. I think there’s an opportunity here to genuinely change the world for millions of people who suffer in silence. It’s almost a charitable endeavour, but with the net result being oiling the wheels of economy which turn profits to help millions of others across the world.

Does this excite you? Talk to me.

Photo Credit: gruntzooki via Compfight cc

Enjoyed this lesson for content strategy success? Get in touch on Twitter @davethackeray and let me know your thoughts.