As a small business owner, it can be stressful and feel very lonely running your business if you don’t have a support network in place.

Support comes in many different forms, from the support of family and friends to the support of accountants, business mentors and business networks. You need to find what works for you. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who can offer advice, share opportunities, and listen to your big ideas

Top tips

  • Be bold and reach out. Who would you like to have in your circle, who do you most admire and what are the areas of expertise you need support with?
  • Mix with people you aspire to be
  • If you’re an introvert, you need to be careful to pick the right support so that you will not be overwhelmed.

So, what is available out there?

  • Networking groups and events – this can be a fantastic way to create business relationships with other entrepreneurs in your local area. Networking is great for sharing ideas and knowledge for finding opportunities, making connections, and increasing your confidence. Raising your profile is another great benefit of networking. By regularly attending business and social events, people will begin to recognize you, your brand and the product or service you provide.
  • Business mentors – are excellent for being a sounding board and for reassurance, they challenge, motivate, and inspire you to be better. They may have different circles of influence and may be able to open doors to new opportunities.
  • Work in a co-working space for a day a week or month – being part of a community means that to have access to potential partners, clients, and mentors who can help with any challenges that may arise. You’re also surrounded by like-minded, goal driven individuals who will inspire you to be the best you can be.
  • Online networking with LinkedIn – connecting with the business community online can be a powerful tool to find support, mentoring or advice as well as a place to find customers and like-minded individuals in your field. You can highlight your profile, expertise, recommendations, and connections. It helps you demonstrate your knowledge, credibility, and leadership and at the same time build trust. Joining LinkedIn Groups is a great way to network to show your knowledge on topics in your industry and connect with a range of different people asking questions and starting conversations.
  • FSB – you don’t have to be a member of the FSB to take part in their networking events. There are lots of events online or in person and they also have lots of useful webinars too. You can learn new skills and network with likeminded business owners.
  • Chamber of commerce – the camaraderie of local businesses pulling together is important and you can make excellent contacts, get your message out there and build your brand within your local business community.
  • Online Groups – these can be Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups or anywhere online where people meet. You can join a group of people in the same field as you or a group of people who want to learn about a skill to support their business. You get to show off your brand and expertise, make connections and get support.

There are many places where you can find support. Go out and find something that works for you.

What are the advantages of having a support network?

  • You have advice, support, training or just someone to blow off steam with.
  • It enables you to develop important skills, share knowledge and experience, and helps reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness.
  • It often makes you feel energised, motivated, and inspired.
  • You meet other like-minded individuals, with the potential to provide you with opportunities for growth.

What can you do?

  • Be bold about reaching out, especially when you’re just starting out.
  • Host social events.
  • Organize informal opportunities to talk shop.
  • Give more than you ask to receive.
  • Make time for old friends.
  • Become Involved with local events.
  • If there’s not much happening in your local area organise a meetup.
  • Get involved by giving your time to a worthy cause.
  • Look online for business networks or networks related to your area of business.

The key to successful support networks is to be prepared to offer support in addition to receiving it. Focus on what you can give, rather than solely on what you can take.

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