The Outsider



Big visionaries behind small businesses share their insights and experiences in this series. Learn how to share your brand story here.

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Peggy Li's picture
All #SmallBizDiary Entries by Peggy Li
The views of this member do not reflect those of Tin Shingle.


You don't have to convince me about the power of community, the power of networking, etc etc. I worked as a professional at a desk job for over 10 years in addition to creating and running my jewelry business and many business lessons were learned on both sides.

Yet, somehow, as I strove to make my small business dream my full-time job, all the sinews and connectedness started dwindling away. Along with the apron strings, the network was severed. I got my goal -- I now work full-time on my business -- but I find myself wondering who my community is now?

When you are a solopreneur, there are no bitch sessions over the watercooler, no pulling someone into the nearest conference room to vent. When you need a resource, your computer is your BFF.

Since I started my business, I've known that I needed to network with fellow business owners. Of course, time seemed to work against me. Also insecurity and that feeling of competition, especially among jewelry designers, made it difficult to be on open terms. We all fear each other yet NEED each other. It's a dichotomy that I still find unsettling.

What have I tried? I've tried creating my own "success squad". I've tried taking classes. I've tried reaching out to colleagues (who are just as - conveniently? - busy as I am).  These days, Facebook, forums and Twitter are my network. Yet I know that even these are not enough.

But when I attend in-person events, I still feel like an Outsider. An Other. On my Own. Maybe it's because I feel like a cagey old vet, yet have questions like a newbie. That I bristle at raw enthusiasm, a bristle of envy at passion that I once had, long ago, when I was just starting. Eye rolling at business owners who want to "get out there", but can't be bothered to use Facebook or Twitter. Wondering, what can I get out of this time I am spending? while wondering at the same time, what do they expect of me?

I'm not looking for a pat on the back -- "Wow, that's wonderful news! You must be so excited!" -- I know what I don't want, but what do I want? 

Answers. Help. Truth. Experience.

Where do you find it?



Some resources I have known (and enjoyed-- honest):


Peggy - what I've always liked about you is your hard core honesty. And your honesty is why you know so much about what you do. You evaluate things carefully.

That said. I am right there with you in terms of feeling like an Outsider. I've always been a shy person, so it's probably all part of the same thing for me. I've moved from NYC to a new town. What I loved about being in NYC was that I could be anonymous, and therefore, I could be anything I wanted. I could wear a vampire cape and no one would care. Actually now that vampires are so in (and you're doing vampire things, right??), it would be trendy if I wore one. Ok, it wouldn't be trendy, but still.

I now find it very hard to network in person in my new town. These folks have been here for a long time. Doing their own businesses. And I'm a newbie, but my unbridled enthusiasm makes me forget that, so I fear that I make newbie comments.

So I find myself sticking online. ;) I have a magnet on my fridge that says "I'm much cooler online."

I think what I want out of going out like what you are saying, is that common bond with someone who is also in business. I connect with people who have business-heads. There seems to be a spark that connects us, and they turn into friends b/c we are kindred spirits in that part of our lives.

I find that common bond here at Tin Shingle, I found it with some of my website clients, and I find that in my old shared office space, In Good Company. Love those guys and actually, I've been thinking of doing a 1 day commute to the city just so that I can work there. And I want to join the shared office space here in my town as well. 

Long comment to your awesome diary entry. Thanks so much for sharing.