Connection, collaboration and community. Three important Cs for us all.
The majority of business founders I work with encounter many periods along their entrepreneurial journey when they feel alone. They remain motivated to make a difference, but they get stuck and frustrated. It is not always immediately apparent who is around to help them over or around the hurdles.
Where do you look? The best business support is rarely the thing that you stumble across when scrolling through social media. It’s the thing that your peers cannot do without. It is the people, projects and organisations they excitedly share with you. They explain how the interaction has shifted their thinking, has plugged some previously unidentified gaps and they tell stories of shared enthusiasm for the business they are building. This support hides out in many places, but one of the most effective ways to know about them is advocacy, hearing about them from your peers.
This, of course, makes a huge assumption, and that is that you are connected to your peers. I particularly notice that the people who have made a transition to owning their business from the corporate world or full-time employment, don’t always identify with what could and perhaps should be their new peers. For example, the community labels like “tech” or “female” don’t always resonate with founders who identify as female or who are running businesses which are tech-led or tech-enabled. This is a challenge as it means the networks which are brimming with great support and access to experts remain hidden from or alien to these founders.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa
My business is founded on this belief. One of the many things I am passionate about is supporting founders to ensure they are not left to struggle alone. There is talent and expertise to be leveraged and people and organisations who can help businesses avoid some of the pitfalls many of us have already encountered. There are communities out there brimming with peer support, and I’d like to ensure people find it.
Ahead of connecting with the right communities and people that can help, it is ideal if you can get clear on what you are looking for. As business founders, you often don’t know what you don’t know so some of the formal support that is available for new businesses can assist in the early days. Speak to the government-funded programmes, to chambers of commerce, business incubators and accelerators or any other initiative set up to support economic development. Reach out and ask what is available to help you determine what support you initially require. This can be a helpful first step towards you identifying and connecting with some new peers and that ideal community that can support you further. Do it your way but don’t do it alone.