One of the biggest themes and learning for me from season one of the podcast was the importance of having a support network. The importance of this was underscored by Episode 10, which featured 6 different startups all talking about the people who have helped them get to where they are today. This taught us some valuable lessons about community, specifically the 6 types of community that every entrepreneur needs.
1 – People who Inspire Them
You don’t start a business without a reason. For some this is born out of passion or experience but for many entrepreneurs there is a person and a story that they can point to for their inspiration. This may be the person who ignited the spark, taught you what you know, or opened your eyes to new possibilities. It might be a story of hardship, excitement or curiosity. It might be the person who gave the encouragement to make the leap when everyone else and conventional wisdom said, “no”.
These people, those who inspire and push others to greatness are often the catalyst to the startup process. Without them many ideas and business would be declared dead before even given the chance to breathe.
2 – Team Members
While much is often made about the solo-preneuers and side hustlers. The reality is that having a startup team leads to success. Research shows that it takes roughly 3.6 times longer to reach success as a solo-preneur than a startup team, which is also why investors tend to be more attracted to startup teams than individuals.
These team members provide more than just help in completing the work. They provide emotional support and diverse skill sets and points of view. A team can make not just the business but also you stronger. At the same time, I saw a report that said 65% of startup failure is do to relational issues within the startup team. A good team makes all the difference. A bad one may be a fast track to failure. (For more on this, check out this post from Cloverleaf.me).
3 – Mentors
Having mentors is fairly trendy, but nothing new. This is because mentors are incredibly valuable to anyone, especially an entrepreneur. A mentor is defined as a trusted and valued expert or advisor. Mentors should be industry experts, people you have a professional relationship with either in your direct or an adjacent field. A mentor may provide anything from education, coaching, a network or resources. Mentors often exist only for a season, but during that season the value they provide to an entrepreneur is almost impossible to measure.
4 – Entrepreneurial Friends
Whether you find yourself in middle of grind, entrenched in the trough of sorrow or celebrating a major victory having friends who understand what you are going through is vital to startup health. Friends who are going through the entrepreneurial journey alongside you can provide this type of empathy and shared experience. Different than mentors these friends can join you in the misery or triumph that comes with territory without being caught up into the emotion like a co-founding partner.
5 – Friends and Family
However, your friends who aren’t entrepreneurs aren’t worthless to you. Your friends and family are just as important to an entrepreneur. For many, the friends and family is your network. Do not overlook the impact of this network. They are often the first people you go to with your idea and routinely become the first customers or investors in a business. Friends and family can provide valuable feedback or encouragement out of love and respect for you. Utilize it.
6 – Spouses
The most common, and often the first, response I got to the question, “Who do you need to thank?” was fairly universal. Most entrepreneurs said, without hesitation that their spouse deserved the most thanks. First had experience will tell you, there is no such thing as a “personal business”. Like it or not, the decision of starting your own business will effect your loved ones. Spouses bear the burden, the long nights, the stresses and the extra work that comes along with starting your own business. Listen to our entrepreneurs talk more about this:
This means before you consider making the leap, the loved ones in your life need to be on board. They need to be bought in and understand the impact this will have on your lives collectively. I also believe this means consistently checking in and might even mean giving your spouse a rip chord- the ability to raise the flag and say, “This is isn’t working for me”. However, we will have to save that for another day.
Who Has Helped You?