According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a key to battling the early struggles of owning a business is to surround yourself with a “business support system”, a network of like-minded individuals who can assist you in navigating the entrepreneurial journey.
Here are 8 sources that you can seek out in order to broaden that network:
1. Alumni: “Reconnect with college and/or high school staff and classmates by letting them what you are doing now and what you have accomplished or plan to accomplish in your business. There might be opportunities to collaborate with university or community college by speaking at the school, hiring seasonal workers or bidding on a project.
If you have children or are engaged in your local community, this strategy applies to reaching out to the parents and teachers association (PTA) or a similar group within the school.”
2. Chamber of Commerce: “Join a local or state chapter and meet and support business leaders. Becoming an active member can expose you to other industries, opportunities and like-minded contacts.”
3. SCORE: “Supported by the SBA, SCORE is a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their business. There are SCORE locations throughout the U.S. Between workshops and mentorship business owners can access professional support year-round.”
4. Faith-based community: “Your spiritual relationship with the members at your place of worship can have a positive effect on your personal life and business goals. Lean on faith-based organizations and activities that promote a healthy, productive lifestyle.”
5. Extracurricular groups: “It’s easy to forget that we form bonds with people we meet through leisure activities like sports leagues, volunteer and travel groups. When not working on or in your business, it’s essential to have a release.”
6. Former co-workers: “If you’ve shared ideas or worked well with previous coworkers and staff, re-engage them to share your current business venture. Their skillset might be useful in your next idea or they can provide insight or contacts that you may have not consider.”
7. Professional organizations or conferences: “Depending on the nature of your work and business, there might be an established network of professionals who meet annually. Conferences and professional groups are instant support systems because they bring together small and large crowds of people who are similar. You can get a lot of inspiration and information by not only attending events but potentially sponsoring or speaking at one.”
8. Online groups via forums, private Facebook groups or Slack communities: “Thanks to the internet and social networking, interfacing with other business owners across the world is reality. Building connections that go beyond day-to-day business matters, can provide new ideas and a different perspective.”