Do you ever feel isolated when you’re running your business?
Does your business sometimes feel like a very lonely place?
Because I think this is something the vast majority of us go through. And not just once, it can easily rear its head again quite regularly.
No matter how much our friends and family really want to support us, if they’ve never had any direct involvement in running a business, then the reality is that they simply don’t get it. They don’t understand what it feels like to have the complete responsibility of that business on your shoulders 24/7. They want to be helpful and supportive, but their lack of understanding means that it can easily feel like the opposite!
The loneliness and isolation of running a business is a very real challenge. For me personally, I know that I need other people to bounce off and I realise that being around people is something that keeps my own energy high. Long periods on my own in the office doesn’t create a productive environment for me, and I’m sure that’s the same for many of you.
One of the best ways to combat this challenge of loneliness and isolation is by actively building a supportive business community around us.
There are two very obvious ways to do this, which are through face-to-face business networking or through online social / business networking. And I think online networking is becoming more and more significant, noticeably so over the last year or two.
There are several significant benefits to actively building your own business support network. Just to be clear here though, I’m not necessarily talking about launching your own networking or social media group, although for some of you that might actually be a great idea. I’m simply talking about building good strong connections with a group of business people who are in a very similar position to you.
So, what are the benefits of building your business community?
They get it!
Isolation and loneliness are often caused by having no one around you who really understands how it feels to be running and trying to build a business. But fellow business owners are going through exactly the same experience. So they get it.
They feel all the same tumultuous emotions as you, the same uncertainties about business, and cashflow, and customers, and invoices, and marketing, and sales … and everything! They’re probably experiencing exactly the same kind of highs and lows and confusion and overwhelm, and all that stuff that can just hit us in the face in business.
Having a group of people around you who totally get it, who give you the opportunity to either offload or just to ask questions or to share challenges or to actually speak to somebody who just relates, can actually be incredibly uplifting.
So that’s the first thing. Build a community of people who just get it.
Because YOU can help THEM!
I think this is one of the least recognised attributes of being part of a great community. It gives you the chance to give something back by helping other people. Now, that in itself is great for your morale because it feels good to help people doesn’t it?
But there is also a huge unexpected element to this that I’ve seen numerous times over the years. Having that opportunity to help others can massively reinforce for you how much you actually DO know about your business when you probably usually you beat yourself up about that.
So many times I’ve seen people come along to my group coaching programs or workshops believing that they haven’t got a lot to contribute to others. That they’re just there to learn from others because they’re probably the least knowledgeable and least experienced person in the room.
But then somebody else brings up a challenge that this person has already been through and they realise that they DO have something to add. They’ve got some great feedback to give or some advice, and they can share how they got past this very challenge. They can help!
Being able to help others in that way can give you a real sense of achievement. I’ve wathed people go through that moment and I can see them thinking “do you know what? I HAVE got something to add here. I CAN add value to people in business. I DO actually know what I’m talking about!”
So the opportunity to help others can be hugely rewarding an the second reason to actively build your business community.
It’s great for your credibility
Whether online or offline, being part of an active business community is a fantastic way to demonstrate your credibility and to really build trust with people; two of the most important elements in attracting new customers.
At face-to-face networking events you get the opportunity to meet lots of people; to tell them what you do; to show them how consistent you are, and to talk about what’s brilliant about you. You might even get the opportunity to give talks or presentations that really drive home your message about how totally ace you are!
In an online community you’ve got the opportunity to share hints and tips to prove that you know your stuff and that you’re naturally helpful; two more important elements in attracting new customers. You don’t even have to write lots of posts yourself if that seems a bit daunting. Just by adding helpful or insightful comments on other people’s posts you can demonstrate your credibility, which will naturally build trust, and help your potential clients to see you and connect with you.
So that’s attribute number three. Your community provides a great opportunity to demonstrate your credibility, start to build your brand and build your following.
Find the best suppliers
Tip number 4 is another often underestimated benefit. Being part of a great business community means that you have constant access to a bank of potentially fantastic suppliers. And that can be helpful for your clients as well as for you. So, for me, for instance, whenever I’m face-to-face networking, I’m always interested in whether anybody in the room could be a great supplier for me, or for one of my clients. I love knowing that whenever a client needs somebody to help them, I can recommend someone trustworthy and reliable to them.
I never go out networking just to look for sales or for new customers.
I’m sure we’ve all wasted money at some point on suppliers that just didn’t deliver what we wanted or needed. Having a great community means that whenever you need a new supplier, you will either already know of a couple of people within that community who could help and you’d already know whether you like and trust them. Or if you’re still searching, then you can use your trusted community to ask for recommendations.
You’ll never have to go to google and take pot luck again!
Now come and join our community!
So just in case you’re now thinking that you love this idea of being part of a strong and supportive business community but you’re not sure where to find one … I have the answer!
In January I created The Business Growth Community on Facebook and we have almost 300 members now. The purpose of the group is to create a supportive environment for anybody growing a business. It’s full of people who get it!
It’s a place you can come and ask questions or seek advice. You can also share your own content whether that’s blogs, videos, advice or free guides; so, if you’re already creating content online this would be a great place for you to come and share that. If you’ve got something to sell or some offers going on, then you can come and share that too. We don’t believe that selling is a bad thing! Or you can just come and have a good old chin wag and put the world to rights.
If you need a new supplier then you can ask people who they would recommend. And you can also get things like market feedback. As an example, Louise Marks from BeautyMark is building a business around Facebook Ads, and really wanted to get a feel for what people think about Facebook Ads and what are their biggest stumbling blocks. So she asked an open question, and we had over 30 comments from people sharing their concerns, their fears, their uncertainties. Louise gained an amazing view of what her marketplace really thinks.
So if you know that you need a better community, that you need a bit more support for you and your business, and that you want to be part of something that’s aiming to support the whole business community then come find us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebusinessgrowthcommunity/