It Takes A Village to Raise a Business

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We’ve all heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned after surviving five years in business is that it also takes a village to raise a business.

When I was in my mid-20s I actually tried to start my own business doing very much what I’m doing now (minus the social media since Facebook etc. didn’t exist back then).

I survived about a year before I packed it in and got a “real job”. The problem was that I thought in order to be a business person you had to be independent, and independent meant doing it all myself.

This time around, being a little older, and a little wiser (I hope), I recognized that trying to go it alone was part of the problem. When I was raising my son I needed a doctor, advice from my mom, and support from other mothers. So I realized I needed the same kind of support for my business.

In the past five years I’ve worked with a variety of coaches, made friends with other business people who I can bounce ideas off of, and joined a networking group. I have an accountability partner who I speak with once a week to talk about what I’m working on. I have a strong network of business friends on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook who I can ask for advice. And on occasion I even talk to my husband about my business.

When I was younger I thought needing other people was a weakness. But if you talk to any successful business people, if they’re honest, you’ll find they’ve all had help along the way. I spoke to one man recently who owns and runs five businesses. He’s been doing so for over 10 years and still meets with the previous owner several times a week to get advice, feedback and support. I know one online entrepreneur with the business in the high six figures who works with three coaches and has a mastermind group.

When you’re building your village you need to make sure that just like a real village it is a diverse group of people. It is often easier to build relationships with other people who are the same stage in their business as you. This is useful because you’re both going through the same things and can really relate to each other.

However you also need to make sure your village includes some experienced business people. Being around more successful business owners helps remind you where you are headed. They can help you remember to focus on your goals and plans rather than just your daily to do list. If you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people will share some of their knowledge and be happy to give you feedback.

Of course, it’s always good to include some new business people in your village. It helps remind you how far you’ve come, and lets you pay back for the help you’ve received along the way.

If you find yourself struggling in running your business, take a moment and ask yourself who is in your village. If you don’t have enough support, advice, and inspiration in your immediate network it’s time to grow your village. Look for a coach, join a networking group like BNI, or reach out to someone you know and invite them out for coffee. You’ll be glad you did.

Andrea J Stenberg

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