Last week I had an interesting conversation with another consultant that specializes in charge master consulting, one that helped lead to this post. We were talking about some of the problems he'd been experiencing over a number of years as it pertained to both his business and his health. Not that he didn't make very good money but some of his health issues have cost him a lot and in its own way was taking a toll on him.

He mentioned that he was thinking about looking for a regular job and getting out of consulting. I asked why and he said because he needed insurance coverage as he was getting older and that might be the only way to get it. I asked him if he'd ever thought about joining a local chamber of commerce (he doesn't live in my state) and he said no. I told him that most chambers across the country offer insurance coverage through group plans they qualify for, especially in large cities, and many smaller communities offer insurance coverage as well, or will partner with larger chambers so that their members can get it.

He was astounded,saying he'd never heard of that in over 25 years; I was the first person who'd ever told him that. He said he was going to call once we were done with our conversation, especially after I told him that a big benefit to the new health care bill that's already gone into effect is that they can't deny him for a pre-existing condition (well, there are a few circumstances where they still can, at least until 2014). He was elated and suddenly found hope that he could easily afford based on his income.

I often find that there's information I have based on my experiences as a small business and as a consultant that gives me insight others don't have. I also often find that there's a heck of a lot of things that I don't know that I learn from other small business entrepreneurs. This is a major reason I belong to a professional consultant's association locally, because these guys have been through a lot and are able to impart information on me that I might not have experienced yet. It goes the other way also, as I've given a number of presentations to the group on different subjects.

Someone once quipped that the reason there are so many independent consultants is that they don't play well with others. As funny as that can be, the truth is that independent consultants actually work better with others because most of them have had to learn the skills of getting people to work with them, to take their advice and do something with it, or to ask for that advice in the first place. Even though I'm not the best at this part, sometimes the "job" involves making a lot of phone calls trying to get that next contract. We're not really sales people, but at least 75% of what we do, unless we're lucky enough to get a long term contract, ends up being marketing of some sort.

I often talk about successes I've had through the years on this blog, both when I worked for someone else and as an independent consultant. The truth is that in all circumstances it took people who were willing to allow me to help them get things done to be successful. It's as crucial for us as it needs to be for managers and leaders in traditional businesses to recognize that they have to work with people, not against them and certainly not micro-managing them, to get the best production possible for the business and out of others.

In my opinion, there are many lessons that small businesses learn that larger businesses need to learn. And of course small businesses need to continue trying to learn how to help other businesses succeed as well. If we could only get more of them to talk to us; ah well...