The Business of Business: Your support network

When you're self-employed, it's important to have certain people on your side. After all, it can get very isolating and lonely when you're working for yourself. You really need a network of fellow professionals that helps streamline your business (and all of the paperwork that goes along with it).

Here is who I keep in my arsenal of contacts:

Accountant. I know better than anyone how much I hate numbers (which is why I am a word girl), and things like filing my quarterly GST, doing taxes, and keeping up on corporate matters are my worst fears. So I have always had a reliable accountant who can take care of all things money-related. Ensure that whomever you work with comes with references and is someone you feel both comfortable with and trust.

Web support

I am, by no means, a computer-savvy girl (it's pretty miraculous that I am able to navigate multiple clients' systems when it comes to putting in my articles). So when I got my own website, I knew I needed to have a "webmaster" tucked in my back pocket for questions on updating my website, keeping it functional as well as interesting, and working out any glitches that I might experience along the way (glitches that would take me much too long to figure out solo).

Colleagues. Even though I work from home, I stay in touch with full-time staffers who work for my various clients. They keep me up-to-date on the ongoings at their offices, and they can be really helpful in being a "voice" for me within their company (even though I'm not there full time).

Former employers. I never burn a bridge, even ones I'd like to blow up. Former employers can go to bat for you because they know you. And when they move around within a company or between two or more companies, they can help lead you to new employment opportunities.

Jennifer Cox is a regular MList columnist and blogger, and writes for daily newspapers as well as national magazines. She's a social media guru, a Suzy Homemaker wannabe, and the mother of a 5-year-old son.

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