Whether you have just started building your professional practice or have been working on it for years, there might come a time when you begin to feel isolated which can be especially true if you are working independently. If you’re part of a team or an office environment, you have company whether you’re celebrating victories or commiserating when things don’t go as planned. However, as an independent teacher, coach, or trainer, one of the challenges is that you’re often celebrating or commiserating on your own.

The good news is that you don’t have to be alone while building your solo business or practice and it might be time to explore a mentor, accountability buddy, or peer group. Any type of accountability partnership comes with great benefits, which we’ll get to in a moment. First, let’s talk about these different types of relationships and systems to help keep you motivated and on track to meeting your goals:

Mentors: If you’re just starting out in building a business or professional practice, finding a mentor can be the key ingredient in your recipe for success. A mentor is simply defined as an experienced and trusted advisor, someone you can go to for guidance. A good mentor can also help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and how to work with both. Contrary to what you may think, it’s a good idea to find a mentor who works outside of your field so they can offer fresh insight and perspectives. This article from Entrepreneur provides some ideas about where to find a mentor.

Accountability buddy: An accountability buddy (or partner) is someone you can count on to keep you motivated and keep you on track. The difference between this relationship and a mentor is that usually, accountability buddies act as coaches to each other in keeping commitments and staying on track toward goals. This could also be someone that you consider to be a peer rather than someone who has more experience than you. Here’s an article from Forbes that will give you an idea of what a good accountability buddy (or buddies) might look like.

Peer group: Peer groups, in-person or virtual, are also a beneficial support system in helping you reach your goals. Ripe with resources and a pool to network with, don’t be afraid to tap into a like-minded group, whether it’s a group of yoga teachers, fitness instructors, or nutrition coaches. You might even join a couple of groups and find your next mentor or accountability buddy! Not sure where to find your people? For in-person groups, take a look on Meetup or shared workspaces in your area, or browse Facebook groups for some virtual options.

Whether you decide to pursue a mentor, accountability buddy, or peer group, you’ll find great benefits from having company in your journey of building your practice as a health, wellness, or fitness professional. Here are just a few of the perks:

Motivation: This is probably the biggest reason people look for support and guidance in building their independent practice. Whether you connect with a mentor, peer, or group, you’ll be more likely to follow through on tasks and deadlines than if you didn’t have someone to “answer to.” Just the mere fact that you’ll be reporting to someone on your progress can be incredibly motivating in helping you get to work.

Clarifying goals and purpose: Using a mentor, buddy, or group as a sounding board in explaining what you do and why you do it can provide you with valuable insight. In finding the words for what you do, you’ll begin to excavate the details of what you hope to achieve with your business or practice. In the process, you’ll find and share your story which is key to building strong connections with clients, students, and your community.

Gain a fresh perspective: Have you ever tried to figure out a problem and beat your head against a wall for hours, only to explain it to someone else and they immediately come up with a great idea or solution? Having someone that you can reach out to and use as a springboard for ideas or problem-solving can be a great way to offer a fresh perspective to your mission as a health, wellness, and fitness professional.

Expand your network: Especially in the case of mentors, you’ll unlock access to a much larger network. Networking is crucial in discovering new resources for improving your work whether that’s business management, technology, communications and so on. Networking can also open the door to new opportunities and leads for you as a business owner.

Someone to cheer you on: While an accountability system is in place to keep you motivated, the other flip of the coin is that this system – be it a mentor, peer, or group – will be there for you when things don’t go your way or if ideas don’t go according to plan. They are your cheerleader and ultimately want to help and see you succeed.

Now that you’re hopefully convinced that connecting with a mentor, accountability buddy, or peer group would help take your health, wellness, or fitness business to the next level, the next step is to do your homework. Consider which system would work best for you, taking into account how much time you can commit to a mentor or accountability buddy. Write down your goals so you can identify the areas you’d like some guidance or motivation. Make sure you have an online presence so you can share this with prospective mentors, buddies, or groups, whether it’s a professional social media profile, portfolio, or website.

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