Building a Community Out of Lone Wolves

Tonight, my wife and I hosted a mastermind meetup for creative entrepreneurs in our area.

It was a diverse group of talents: there was an illustrator, a mommy blogger, a romance novelist, a furniture rehabber, a painter...

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Our struggles were just as varied.

The novelist was struggling to narrow in on her target market. The blogger was having a hard time finding volunteers for exploratory testing for the app version of her site. The painter couldn’t find a printer to outsource to.

But despite our disparate challenges, we had a few key similarities.

Most notably, we all work alone.

Not that we mind: most of us value the peace of working in solitude. I love being able to blast my records from the turntable without anyone complaining. I enjoy not having any coworkers around to bug me.

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But with that tranquility comes a lack of accountability.

If there’s no one around to hassle me about my work, then that also means there’s no one around to make sure I’m not scrolling through memes on Reddit or having political debates on Facebook, which I’m wont to do.

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And as we talked about all of our unique challenges, that lack of accountability kept coming up. It’s easy to set goals, but if there’s no one there to to keep you focused on those goals, it’s easy to let them slip to the wayside.

For example, my wife runs a makerspace. But for the past two years, she’s wanted to promote her own personal brand as an artist, crafter, and marketing guru.

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About six months ago, she finally bought her domain. Last month, she built her homepage and wrote a few blog posts.

She still hasn’t published the site.

As we went around the table, everyone had a similar experience. We each had a goal that was consistently neglected and malnourished.

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And we were sick of it.

But instead of whining about our lack of follow-through, we decided to do something about it. As hard as it is for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and artists to invite other people into the process, we needed to make it happen.

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We set a monthly meeting. And before that meeting, we had some homework: we needed to bring one goal that we have been ignoring.

We even set up a Facebook group to create accountabiltiy between meetings.

We invited everyone to the biweekly Coworking Wednesday that we host at the shop.

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And while the jury’s still out about how effective it will be, a fire has been set under us: my wife came home and promptly reevaluated her business plan. People are already posting in the Facebook group.

Keeping that fire burning is a going to be another challenge, but for now, we’re moving in the right direction.

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