It takes a village to raise a business.
You’ve heard the phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’
The same is true with your business.
You need help.
92% percent of small business owners have experienced mental health problems over the past two years.
That’s shocking but sadly not unexpected.
Leading a business can be isolating and tough.
You’re often making decisions that have an impact wider than just yourself, all while juggling the day-to-day work, team, clients, cash flow and so on.
If you’re running a business, leading a team, or growing a community, here is what you need;
A small group (4-6) of people who are cheering you on; who can guide you through the tough times and call you out.
Your close circle
We have one of these at Steadfast Collective. A small group of business-minded friends who we update every three months. They keep us accountable, offer support and question decisions.
They’ve all led businesses further along than ours and are willing to take a small amount of time to check in on us.
It’s easy to fall into an echo chamber or, worse, become surrounded by ‘yes’ people, so ensure you’ve given each people the authority to speak up. And make sure they are the kind of people who will. You need challenging, pushing and questioning from time to time.
Celebrate the wins together
We celebrate birthdays with cake and cards. Let’s do the same for business owners too.
We buy gifts for expectant or new parents. Let’s support new business owners.
We check in on our friends when things are rough. Let’s check in on our business owner friends.
If you know a business owner, drop a text, see how business is going, offer to help.
If you’re unsure how you can help, here are two ideas;
1) Make an introduction for them (service business) 2) Buy something from them (product business)
The wider circle
Your wider circle could be called your ‘network’.
These are the folk who expect nothing from you, but you should still try and keep close to.
Your network doesn’t need to be filled with superstars, nor do you need to be writing Christmas cards to them all. But you should check-in semi-regularly with those you can.
Here’s how I tend to end my catch-up calls;
“Who in my network can I introduce you to?”
A simple referral for you may take five minutes, but could be business-changing for both parties you are introducing.
Why Unexpected Entrepreneurs need to network
Firstly, please forget everything you might be thinking about classic networking. I’m not talking suits in a room shaking hands and swapping business cards.
The kind of networking I’m talking about here involves genuinely getting to know folk.
Being open, honest and swapping stories.
You should be attending events where someone has clearly stated the tone and expectations; meet people, offer insight and don’t sell.
So, why do I believe Unexpected Entrepreneurs need to network more-so than anyone else?
Let’s look back at what an Unexpected Entrepreneur is;
‘An unexpected entrepreneur is an expert in their field who has ambitious goals to innovate in their sector and push boundaries, which has, in turn, become their means for living through their own unique business.
Passionate about their fields, these entrepreneurs excel in collaboration, being able to recognise the shortcomings in their experience and what is required to make a real impact in their sector.’
It’s that last line.
Entrepreneurs need to recognise their own shortcomings and having a diverse network is the first step of filling the gap.