Leading Alone

How do you lead when you’re a solopreneur or a *very* small businessperson? My business, Crossroads Communications, is primarily myself and my husband. While we work with a network of partners and trusted providers for some projects, on a daily basis we have no employees, no co-workers... it’s just us. And since I spend a good chunk of most days out of the office in meetings or on site at client facilities, it’s not even us, it’s just him and just me.

How do you lead when you’re alone? More importantly, how do you create positive change in the world through leadership as a solopreneur?

Leadership isn’t defined by one person being in charge of or “leading” others. It is an attitude and an approach characterized by commitment to ethical, moral, self-directed behavior designed to accomplish set goals. Knowing where you want to go is the first step to leading alone. Then, you must examine your attitudes, biases, commitments and beliefs to determine whether your goals are truly in alignment with your personal moral compass. If not, set some different ones. You can’t lead effectively if you don’t believe.

Once you’ve set goals that are in alignment with your beliefs, leading alone is a matter of choosing to do, every day, that which is best for those you come into contact with through the course of your day. Every time I meet with clients, I have an opportunity to lead through my conduct, how I share knowledge, how I present opportunities and challenges and how I handle objections or misgivings. I have an obligation to serve my clients in a way that meets my moral standards and accomplishes my goal of fulfilling their expectations and helping them achieve.

I carefully choose the businesses and clients I work with. I view it as a relationship... a partnership. I get to know them and their business and I need to believe in what they wish to sell, share, promote or grow. If I can’t believe, I don’t work with them (though I’ll recommend another provider). Leading alone sometimes means making difficult choices based on maintaining the alignment of my moral compass and my business goals.

Always consider the impact your life and your actions, especially when viewed from afar, may have on others. I’m a mom of 4 and I’m often asked,  “How do you do it?” Every time I answer that question, I have an opportunity to share why I’ve made the choices I have... why my office is at home, why my husband and I are partners, why we’ve chosen to keep our business small. When someone sees me working for an hour between meetings at a Starbucks or reads my tweets or Facebook updates... I am leading alone. Who knows what inspires someone, or disenchants them? Leadership doesn’t take holidays.

To me, every day is a powerful opportunity to lead within the framework of my everyday life. Having employees,  co-workers or even daily face-to-face interactions isn’t necessary to lead... having the right attitude and alignment is.