By Rieva Lesonsky
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely job. I’ve owned my own business for five years now and with all the stress of managing working capital, paying bills, marketing to new customers and more, sometimes the pressure is overwhelming. Ever feel that way? Plus, as CEO you need to appear positive and unflustered, or you could start a panic among your workers. So where can you turn for support? The solution is to create your own support system of other small business owners. Fellow entrepreneurs understand the stress you’re under and can provide ideas, advice and moral support when you need it most. Here are 3 ways to create your own support system:
1. A friend indeed. There’s nothing like being able to talk one-on-one and face-to-face with another entrepreneur. All small business owners are incredibly busy, but try scheduling regular lunches or coffee time with entrepreneurial friends to share ideas or just to vent. The other small business owners you meet with don’t need to be in your industry—in fact, getting insights and input from someone who’s not in your industry can give you a whole new perspective on your business. Give each other goals to meet before you meet up again–it could just be the push you need to start that new product line.
2. Join a club. There are plenty of local organizations focused on entrepreneurs in every community (and if there isn’t one in yours, start one!). Start with your Chamber of Commerce or industry trade association; then ask the people you meet to recommend other networking groups. Check out special-interest organizations such as the National Association of Women Business Owners or the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Here, you’ll meet business owners who are dealing with similar challenges, and you can share best practices and ideas for better ways to do business.
3. Go online. If you’re really pressed for time but need moral support from other small business owners, go online. You can instantly connect with other entrepreneurs without having to leave your office. Check out the small business communities on OPENForum or at Web.com. You can also get free online mentoring from SCORE mentors any time (disclosure: OPENForum, Web.com and SCORE are my clients). Another online resource to check out is PartnerUp’s Google+ page.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports