It’s easy to imagine people looking at the prolific William Morris and saying, “I wonder how he gets so much done.” During his lifetime, he produced a dazzling body of work that included writing, social activism, publishing and all those intricate textile and wallpapers.

I’ve always suspected that the secret of his enormous output stemmed from the weekends he organized at his home, Red House, where he invited his artistic friends to come and spend the weekend “making things.”

Rossetti, Burne-Jones and the others who came to make up the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were participants in these Art Weekends.

In gathering all these creative souls around himself and nurturing their talents, he was taking advantage of that extraordinary energy known as synergism.

This phenomenon was first noticed and named by the pharmaceutical industry where it was observed that combining drugs sometimes produced a result greater than the individual parts. The same thing can happen when people gather together and the result is greater than the individual contributions.

In other words, synergy says two plus two equals twelve.

While synergy can occur spontaneously and in unexpected ways, the smart entrepreneur will consciously create situations to help it along.

This is particularly important for those of us who work alone and need to reach out to other self-bossers on a regular basis to take advantage of the rewards of synergism.

Here are some suggestions for doing just that.

 ° Choose carefully. “As I look at my life,” says Stewart Emery, “I notice that all my friends are people who support me in learning the lessons I have to learn. We have consciously chosen each other based on the contribution we can make to each other.”

We all know that both Dreambuilders and Dreambashers inhabit the world. When we share our ideas with the latter, our energy is diminished and the likelihood of accomplishing our dreams dims, too.

While we may not be able to avoid them altogether, we do need to learn to protect ourselves from these psychic vampires and spend time with people who get as excited about ideas as we do.

° Instigate. Create situations and gatherings for the purpose of brainstorming. Form your own small Joyfully Jobless group. Have regular breakfast meetings with another self-bosser.

If you’re feeling really frisky, invite a few trusted folks to go away on a mini-retreat where you spend time away from normal demands and concentrate on generating ideas for all members of the group.

You could even host your own Art Weekends ala William Morris.

° Show up. You’re  more likely to be the recipient of synergistic energy at a seminar than you are watching old reruns on television.  Today many people are enthusiastic participants in social media on the Internet. While this may be an efficient way to share information, it’s not the same as being in the presence of other people.

Communication is more than just words and, in fact, nonverbal communication is hugely important. As Mary Pipher so eloquently puts it, “To have a real life people must participate in real communities.”

Get involved in events and activities where ideas are encouraged and flow easily.

° Be opportunity-minded. My friend Chris Utterback and I seldom had a conversation without one of us exclaiming, “Oh, there’s a great business idea!” We always were observing the things around us with the attitude of finding better ways of doing things or discovering something that was missing.

Often this led us to giving ideas away to others who could carry them out.

More importantly, it conditioned us to see the world as a place filled with abundance and unlimited opportunities. We knew that we’d never run out.

Connect, collaborate, create and watch how synergy  helps you to build a better business.

Or as Jim Rohn pointed out, “You cannot succeed by yourself. It’s hard to find a rich hermit.”

If you’ve met me or seen my picture, you may have noticed that I am blessed with hair that’s straight as a ruler. Unfortunately, when I was a little girl, Toni home permanents came up with a solution—Tonette for children.

After it appeared on the market, my mother enthusiastically administered this smelly monstrosity to my hair at regular intervals. When I would protest, she’d remind me, “You must suffer to be beautiful.”

It became one of my mother’s favorite mantras and I suspect the message spilled over into other areas of life. How dare I feel proud about any accomplishment that came easily?

While I no longer believe that suffering is a necessity when it comes to personal achievement, I do know that worthwhile endeavors usually involve a challenge—or several.

Nevertheless, I suspect that too many of us continue to make things harder than necessary when we’re going for a dream.  I also suspect that we’re often unaware of those behaviors that slow us down and add drudgery.

How can we be sure we’re making it harder than it needs to be? Here are five surefire ways that can burden the entrepreneur’s journey.

1. Avoid investing in ourselves. Anyone who starts a business signs up for a learning adventure, but those who never bother to attend a seminar or travel to a conference are making their own success a low budget priority.

And it’s not just information that needs to be acquired. As author Earnie Larsen points out, “You can’t outperform your own self-image.”

For most of us, acquiring a healthy self-image requires an investment of time, money and assistance from pros.

2. Pamper our excuses. We’ve all got them and when we repeat them often enough, they begin to feel welcome.

That’s only a short step away from believing them. The moment we do that, our excuses assume a position of power.

It’s hard to move ahead when our excuses have lodged themselves around our ankles.

3. Never ask for help. In a recent post, Seth Godin said, “Too often, businesses (and freelancers) focus on making it on their own. In fact, the secret of being indispensable is making it together.”

Colorado Free University founder John Hand believed that for everyone who has a problem, someone in the community has the solution. Whether the community is geographic or virtual, we make it harder for ourselves if we fail to find those helpful resources and listen to their advice.

4. Ignore the successful. The world is full of people who are willing to share their experiences, lessons and techniques.

The best way to keep from following in their footsteps is to avoid putting yourself in their presence to begin with, but should you find yourself in the same room, use it as an exercise to compare yourself to them rather than learn from them.

5. Scorn inspiration. One of the best kept secrets around is that inspiration is available to all of us, but it needs to be cultivated. In order to do that, we need to know what inspires us—and take ourselves to those people and places on a regular basis.

As Mary Pipher observes, “Inspiration is very polite. She knocks quietly and if  we don’t answer, goes elsewhere.”

Inspiration, even at its quietest, helps us to feel more brilliant, more creative, more capable. When we undervalue it, we rob ourselves of its gifts.

It’s so much harder to succeed if we haven’t invited inspiration along as a companion.