If I wanted someone to tell me what to do every day, I’d still be working for someone else

Y’all, I think I’m really done with business advice groups.

I know I’ve complained about them in the past, but I wouldn’t have stuck with them so long if there wasn’t some payoff. The last couple of weeks I’ve really been wondering what the payoff is.

Two of the ones I’m in are free, and one is paid. One is more of legal advice for small business owners, one is how to run your small business, and one is sort of how to run a small business but mostly how to brand your business. All three are women-run, and about 99% of the people in them are women. Two are primarily run as Facebook groups and one is run as a private forum.

One of the free ones isn’t very salesy at all, unless someone asks a specific question that the woman who runs it usually gets paid to answer… she gives a very good answer and then says if anyone is interested in more information on ___ that there are more free resources on her blog and she can be hired to do more for a reasonable fee. One of the free ones has suddenly gotten salesy… not really in an IN YOUR FACE kind of way, but enough mentioning of “this is the free stuff and over here, over here is the paid stuff! Jazzhands!” that I am starting to feel bad about just being on the free side and yet the paid side doesn’t seem to offer a single thing I’d be interested in. Here’s the funny thing… the one I pay for is the salesiest one of all! Two or three emails and blog posts a week and they all are of the “here’s a taste of this thing I offer over here, for money!” variety… and as they get more salesy there are less and less things in them that I find useful.

One of the groups is a good 50/50 mix of personal/business; there are a few discussion prompts a week and they vary from what’s on your to-do list to what are you reading. Two of the groups are all business; one is filled with questions of the “why do I have these arms” variety (patiently answered time and time again) and one filled either with questions about things that I have no interest in (I do not wholesale jewelry, for instance, and don’t have anything to add to a discussion about that) or panicked screams of the “omg did you hear Etsy is going to start coming into our house and eating our children” variety (primarily answered by other people in the group and the answers can range from “omg I know Etsy ate my toddler yesterday” to “sweet jesus, calm the heck down”).

Here’s what I want from a business group:
– to meet like-minded people who are pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and living their hardest but truest lives.
– to share tips on how to organize your day, your time, your studio, or your office.
– to share tips on what sort of ads/promotions work for your particular business.
– to share tips on balancing work and life, especially when you work where you live.
– to share tips on how to have a social and family life when you feel that you are a dullard who works 147 hours a week.

Here’s what I don’t want from a business group:
– for other people who are not running the group to hard sell their wares to me.
– for other people in the group to contact me out of the group to try to sell to me and/or to like their Facebook page.
– for other people to offer to trade links/Facebook likes/things that I make for things that they make.
– to be constantly told that if I feel I’m not doing enough, the solution is not better time management, the solution is to hire someone – so here are a bunch of resources on how to hire, fire, and the legal ramifications of having employees and paying taxes and getting them heath insurance.
– to constantly be shown what services a company provides that I could purchase, but no prices are ever publicly talked about because it’s not an expense, you know, it’s an investment! in your business! So don’t worry about the price, just sign up for it!
– that being a small one-woman business is fine, you know, if that’s what you want, but if you’re not at the point where you’re ready to hire someone you’re really just a hobbyist, aren’t you? I mean, every business owner strives to get to the point where they can hire people to do all the work. Why are you worried about paying them every week? It’s not an expense, an employee is an investment! in your business! So here are resources on how to hire and train someone, get to it!
– that being a small production business if fine, you know, if that’s what you want, but if you were serious about being a business – and weren’t just a hobbyist – then you’d be wholesaling and going to trade shows and hiring other people to make what you design (or outsourcing it to a production company). So here are some resources on wholesaling, on going to your first trade show, how to hire people, and how to shop for production companies. Have fun!

I mean for crying out loud. I want a group that is supportive, not one that’s telling me weekly how to crush the competition or how to spend five figures on a new website. I sure as shit don’t have five figures in the bank, do not plan on going into debt for it, and my “competition” is just like me – a one-woman show juggling everything and doing it all herself or with the occasional help from her sister-friends. Why would I want to crush someone like that, instead of leaning towards them with a hand out to help? I’m doing craft shows, not fucking Shark Tank. Gah.

Well. This post was longer than I meant it to be, hahah! I guess I had more to say about the subject than I thought.

So. Anyone know of any business groups where the focus is support and discussion of what works and what doesn’t for small (one person), creative-based, women-run businesses, and not blanket advice on how to run a small business trying to grow to mid-sized? Because I don’t have time to start a group like that. None of the other ones I’ve ever seen or stuck my toes into have been like that, and I wonder if that’s because there’s not a need for it, or because the kind of person who would be great starting a group like that… doesn’t have the time to start a group like that.

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