November 1, 2012
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Starting and managing a successful small business can be very lonely, especially if you launch your company without a strong support system in place.
“Making the move into business ownership can be one of the most exciting and liberating experiences; however, it can also be one of the most challenging,” according to SBA.gov.
Most entrepreneurs realize that starting a business is an incredibly lonely experience. Helen Dowling, a small business owner and the founder of Exceptional Thinking, recommends that entrepreneurs should find ways to make the experience less lonely.
Dowling says, “Let’s face it, we’re all quite sociable really and even if we don’t need to be around people all of the time, too much of our own company isn’t good for us. I don’t know about you, but if I’ve spent a couple of days in the office on the trot, I’m usually climbing the walls.”
If you need to break the cycle of solitude in entrepreneurship, here are five ways to find the right people to aid you during your journey:
1. Join social clubs in your city.
It’s important to build your personal network, and joining social clubs is a great way to start. Not only will you locate great events, you could also meet potential clients, employees and new friends. Take a look at clubs like the Union League for “Young Friends” memberships, as well as the Young Friends clubs at your local museum, orchestra, and ballet.
2. Create a small group of like-minded entrepreneurs.
You may have already heard of the term “mastermind” groups.
“It is often said that you are the average – income & personality wise — of the five people you spend the most time with, including yourself. For some people this is great news, for others they are thinking that they need to start hanging out with a different set of 5 people.”
Whatever the case may be, build a small group – quickly. Make sure that the four other people you interact with don’t have competing businesses, and assess ways you can help each other. I personally know of groups that meet monthly and each member has to come to the meeting with at least one lead for another member of the group.
Also, be mindful of time. As entrepreneurs, we all have full schedules so don’t schedule more than 60 to 90 minutes once a month.
3. Host a dinner (or a happy hour) each month and invite new people.
Consider this a startup marketing expense.
Host an event for a hand-selected group of people you want to get to know. Be strategic when creating your invitations, and make sure you personally meet and greet each person who’s on your list. Don’t hesitate to let each person bring a guest if it’s a happy hour. If you’re hosting a dinner, it’s okay to extend the invitation just to that person.
Make sure that the invitees can benefit from getting to know your other guests, as well — not just you!
I love to cook and entertain people in my home, so I host dinner parties every month. At this point in my career, my parties are more about hanging out with friends and mutual support. But they’re always fun, so don’t make it all about business!
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