A year ago, I was part of a 3-person team organizing TEDxFoCo. We had 100 attendees, 10 speakers, and busted our butts to organize and get the word out to sell out the event – it was the first time TEDx had been done in Fort Collins or even Northern Colorado.

Funny thing is – a year ago, we couldn’t find a venue until two months before the event. Nobody who could host 100 people was willing to work with us – nor, for that matter, knew what TEDx was. We finally found one in April. I remember tearing up when I realized we had to charge for the event that I’d desperately wanted to be free. We had to fight to earn every last attendee and I distinctly remember filling out our budget and wondering where any of the money would be coming from after checking our attendee list three weeks out.

Thanks to some very hard work from all involved, we managed to sell out the event, pay our venue, and receive rave reviews.

Today, TEDxCSU – organized by my friends Hannah and Brooke, is hitting the books with over 900 tickets sold – and I can’t help but marvel at how well they and their team have done. I cannot imagine the magnitude of challenges the TEDxCSU team have faced. I’m so very happy for the TEDxCSU crew – and you can bet your britches that I’ll take every opportunity I have to learn from their successes.

Which brings me to my point: you cannot do anything worth doing – alone.

The inherent danger of doing everything yourself is that your project will never get done. Your idea will never escape your head – even if you are ridiculously talented, even if you have all the time in the world – without help, your idea will only ever be a shadow of itself.

This is the most important thing I can teach any small business owner: you must have help. To illustrate my point, I asked my friend Erin Giles to answer some questions for me about her project.

Erin has committed to end sex trafficking. Not diminish it. Not make people aware. She wants to kill it dead. So she contacted 60 awesome folks to write 60 amazing essays about love, knowledge, and freedom – and every dollar from every book sold will go to benefit the Not For Sale Campaign.

And she needs your help. In Erin’s own words:

“I need help from people who can donate $20 or more, we have 3 days to raise $780 to meet our goal and ship, print, and bind our book that will benefit the Not For Sale Campaign. They can also promote our site on Twitter and Facebook. Or they can take a moment to educate their families and friends about the 30 million people enslaved, which is more than any other time in history.”

While Erin did a fair share of sourcing for help, sometimes you have tow the line on your own – when you wish you could have sourced it out:

“I wish I could have outsourced emailing around 100 people personally asking them to write for the book and waiting for their response.”

Even so, Erin had loads of help to accomplish her project – and rightly so, as it’s a massive undertaking:

“I had lots of help –

  • from my husband who made the video
  • from Alexandra Franzen who I asked to donate time to help me jazz up the video script (she usually charges $1500 for one day of web copy)
  • from Erika Lyremark from Daily Whip who talked me into raising money to get End Sex Trafficking Day book published + connected me to the publisher
  • from over 160 people who have donated
  • from 59 people saying yes to writing an essay
  • from one willing lovely unpaid intern who answered a tweet from me requesting help with an admin duties
  • from dozens of people willing to blog and promote about EST Day
oh and maybe my mom for watching my two year old while I work hard ;)”

Erin’s legacy? Even if this book doesn’t kill sex trafficking dead – it’s a hell of a beacon to inspire change. Erin’s legacy from the moment anyone new learns about her project will be that she changed the world for the better. And she’s still going.

If you want to change the world – take action. Just don’t do it alone.

This post is part of the Word Carnival – a series of posts by small business experts to help you learn and achieve in your own business. Check out the Word Carnivals website to see all of the posts on Outsourcing.

(Header photo: Alone)