The saying goes that it’s lonely at the top, and it definitely may seem so at first in the field of entrepreneurship. With so much focus on new ventures including launching a new business, setting new goals, and managing staff under a new framework, it’s no wonder that people at the helm are often driven to work long hours alone. At best, some negative feelings about being an entrepreneur may include self-doubt, lack of confidence, and occasional isolation from other people. But at worst, they may lead to burnout, a noticeable dip in work performance, and a loss of purpose.
As an entrepreneur you need to tap into large networks of people, so why not seek out support from like-minded leaders? It may be just what you need to sustain passion, excellence, and people-oriented focus in your entrepreneurial work!
In this feature, I’ll be detailing 6 good reasons why support groups matter to entrepreneurs. As a plus, I’ll also give tips on how to derive positive energy, constructive feedback, and a greater sense of mission from your chosen support group mechanism. Here is a treatise on how entrepreneurs can look out for fellow entrepreneurs!
What a Support Group Can Offer to Entrepreneurs
At times when the work feels lonely, your personal efforts feel insufficient, or your company’s hit a standstill, an entrepreneurs’ support group may help you in surprising ways. Among the top benefits of joining a support group are the following:
In a support group, you’ll find that entrepreneurs can empathise with each other. There’s something comforting about the fact that other business leaders are going through the same birthing pains as you. You will be able to see this for yourself in a support group. Once you’re there, you’ll see that the difficult task of entrepreneurship is more bearable and easier to master—because others have done it before you, and because others are taking the same steps as you.
Entrepreneurs can trade technical advice with their peers in the group. During your time in a support group, you might come across some practical tips on technologies to use, new methods of managing resources, and keeping up with business trends. What you can’t learn alone or just within the confines of your own business, you can definitely pick up from others in the group.
Entrepreneurs can extend valuable opportunities to each other through the group. Peers can advertise industry events, trade fairs, seminars, socials, and other opportunities to each other in the support group. If you chance upon any of these and attend them for yourself, you may be able to meet potential clients and business partners, and thus have a chance to get further ahead in your entrepreneurial career.
Entrepreneurs can offer each other fresh new perspective within their support network. You and your fellow entrepreneurs can enrich each other’s minds just by virtue of being in different life circumstances. Though you all may have the entrepreneurial life in common, you come with varied skill sets, disciplines, industries, and levels of experience. You would not know who could help another entrepreneur to break out of a rut with some creative ideas and make positive changes in a business.
Entrepreneurs within the support group can champion each other’s advocacies. One of the great things about being in a support network is finding fellow advocates for a good cause. When this happens, you will not only be able to fight for your own business interests, but for something that unites you with several other businesses like it. For example, you could meet other champions for the environment, social services, or education in your entrepreneurial support group, and in the future, you and your peers could organise a meaningful collaborative effort for the cause.
Entrepreneurs can help their fellow entrepreneurs in the network stay grounded. The biggest enemies to good entrepreneurial work are complacency, overconfidence, and isolation. The best allies to the work, on the other hand, are peers who can help each other stay grounded, purposeful, and connected to the people in their business. That’s how an entrepreneurial support group can bring you back to the original passion of your work—and thus, give you the drive to keep doing it.
How to Get the Best Out of Your Support System
Once you decide to join a support group of entrepreneurs, what are some additional steps you should take in order to get the best out of the experience? Here’s my advice on the issue.
Ask for recommendations from trusted peers about what support group to join, and what type it will be.
It can be the kind where you meet each other in person at a restaurant, a café, or in someone else’s home every month. Or, it can simply be the type where you sign up online and exchange comments freely. Decide what mode is best for you, and ask a fellow entrepreneur if they’ve found the ideal environment.
Don’t just take—give as well.
Upon joining a support group, you may be able to find all the answers you need just by asking questions or browsing through posts. But don’t limit your behaviour in the support group to that. Contribute what you can to other entrepreneurs’ concerns in terms of time, interest, or constructive opinion. Someone will be thankful that you’ve added your voice to the discussion.
Learn to distinguish the feedback and support that you actually need from discussions.
Sometimes you’ll get advice that’s been offered with the best of intentions but does not apply to your particular entrepreneurial situation. Be gracious and thank anyone who has given you advice, but at the end of the day, only apply the helpful, applicable kind.
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating: a support group is no place to drag each other down. When you’re in the group, be encouraging of your fellow entrepreneurs; like you, they are just trying to find their place in the world. To a struggling entrepreneur, a kind approach and some reassurance can make all the difference.
Believe in yourself so others are willing to believe in you.
It’s often easier to believe in someone else than it is to believe in yourself, but frankly, the latter is crucial to entrepreneurship. You need to be able to fall back on your own skill, talent, and acumen for doing business when times get hard. Thus, it will be healthy for you to listen when people praise you, and say that you’re on the right track, and that you’re destined for greater things—this kind of energy is positive, encouraging and shapes the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.
If you haven’t already found a group of fellow business leaders to share the entrepreneurial life with, I suggest you start looking now. You’ll be surprised at how many people go through the same challenges as you do every day of their entrepreneurial journey. Think how much you’ll be able to achieve, not on your own, but together!