The Importance of Community
Posted in Doing It solo, Featured, Lessons I've Learned | 0 comments
Entrepreneurship can be an amazing journey. It can also be incredibly lonely. No matter how many good friends you have, friends that don’t own their own businesses really don’t get it. (You know how some parents say that people who don’t have kids can’t possibly understand what it’s like to have kids? Owning your own business is a very similar life experience.)
Your business is something that you’re incredibly passionate about–more passionate than most people are about their day jobs–and it inevitably takes up all of your spare grey matter. It presents its own unique set of challenges, and while it may not be the primary focus in your life, it’s definitely up there.
When you’re a member of any group, it’s a tremendous help to have people to turn to that are in a similar situation, or have at least been there. While networking groups, where you have a glass of wine and hand out a business card, are plentiful and can be fruitful, they don’t provide the sort of purpose-driven, supportive community that organizations created explicitly for this purpose serve.
Purposeful community comes from getting together to share challenges (and triumphs), learn from (and teach to) each other, and provide that outside perspective that’s so valuable to those of us going it alone in our businesses.
The type of group that you join or form will depend largely on your business, your needs, and the needs of your fellow entrepreneurs. Perhaps you’ll get together for workshops on different topics, such as self-care for busy entrepreneurs, the law of attraction for business, marketing, creativity, or inspiration. Workshops can be a great way to learn and, if some of them are run by people already in your group, a great opportunity for learning to teach and present workshops, as well.
You can also form an accountability group, where a small group of women get together and each presents a list of “these are all the things I have on my plate right now”. You’ll help each other figure out the primary or most important thing on each list, the highest-priority, highest-value project or task that will help you work on your business. And at each meeting you’ll also report on your progress on the task you chose at your last meeting. This can really help you clarify your next steps, and the accountability will help make sure they get done.
It’s not about the referrals.
There’s so much more to it than that. Community groups like this can not only help you grow your business, they can also be incredible soul boosters as you share in each others’ successes and watch each other’s businesses grow. And occasionally, yes, you may make referrals to people within your group. You may get new clients from your group.
But please remember: that’s not the point. The point, the goal, is to build that kind of old-fashioned community where you can rely on each other, call each other with questions, be each other’s mentors.
That external perspective
Having that outside voice, that second or third opinion, something that’s coming from outside of your head or outside of your organization can make such a difference. You can ask questions like “if you had just purchased my company and were the incoming CEO, what’s the first thing you would change?”. It’s a great question to help you work through some of the kinks in your business, but you’re not going to be able to answer it for your own business.
Your community can help each other with big questions like that. You can help each other come up with marketing campaigns, be a sounding board, help with the hard decisions, and just give everyone in your group someone to vent to or a shoulder to cry on.
It’s great to be able to sit down with people that are in similar situations, once or twice a month, and really connect with them and see what they’re doing in their businesses. We share the exciting things and the ups and also the heartbreaks and downs and the problems.
To quote Spider Robinson, “Shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased”. And it’s incredibly true when you’ve built a community of entrepreneurs.
Photo Credit: group by Grzegorz Łobiński
Danielle Nelson helps passionate entrepreneurs, purpose-driven leaders, and creative spirits clarify their goals, connect with their communities, take action, and get inspired. She blogs about web strategy, business, and living a better life at Life Unconstrained.
Website - More Posts