10 Tips for Building Your Support Network
By Janet Barclay.
When I launched my business in 2002, I was very excited to have something that was “all mine.” Who wouldn’t be? However, my desire for independence almost prevented me from being successful!
When you run your own business, you need to grow a network of colleagues, service providers and others who can help you in various ways. But it’s also wise to build a more casual support network for knowledge, encouragement, advice and motivation.
Understand Where You Need Help
First of all, it’s good to know yourself. Recognize the warning signs when your confidence or motivation is starting to flag. Know your own areas of weakness and things you need to work on.
Family and Friends
Family and friends are a great source of support, even when they have nothing to do with your business. In fact, they can be a great help because they’re not involved. They know you, not your business. Identify those who are most helpful to you in your regular life and enlist their support.
Seek out Mentors
A mentor is someone who has more experience than you have at what you do. They’ve gone further down the road you’re on and they know what’s ahead. A mentor can help to steer you on this path when you get stuck. They can identify your weaknesses or trouble spots and help you overcome them. Consider joining one of Career Professionals of Canada’s industry-leading Mastermind Mentoring Groups.
Coaches and Consultants
Like a mentor, a coach or consultant can help you by lending you their experience and skill, but a coach or consultant’s approach is more direct. You pay for their services, so they usually offer more direct help than mentors do. They’re there to help you. Get recommendations from colleagues and do a trial session before signing up for anything long term.
Try to identify sources of good advice on the internet. Seek out a website for entrepreneurs that offers help or encouragement with its content. Look for a forum or social media group that’s particularly supportive of its members.
Motivation and Inspiration
What inspires you or pushes you to keep working, even when things get tough? For example, thinking of your family’s future may be a greater motivation for you than the idea of making a great deal of money. Try to identify what motivates or inspires you. Post these in words and/or pictures somewhere visible. You can turn to them when your motivation is waning.
A much more tangible area where you need support is on the technological side of things. It’s good to have a friend or associate who is particularly tech savvy and can help you out when needed. They can help you make minor changes to your website and other tasks that may be challenging for you.
Back-up Plan for Disaster Relief
You should have a system for backing up everything and a plan for what to do if disaster strikes. Many businesses go to great lengths considering how marketing trends or consumer demand can affect their business, but they forget about hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and floods. Just knowing your business can continue immediately in another location at a moment’s notice can support your peace of mind.
Your Biggest Fans
Some of your best support will come from your fans, followers and customers. When you have an especially good relationship with a particular reader or client, nurture this relationship and garner support from it. These individuals are a great help when you wonder whether your efforts to deliver value are paying off.
Getting Started Again
Finally, identify some sources of support just in case your business blows up and you have to start all over again. It’s something we all hope won’t happen, but if you’re prepared and it does, it’ll be much easier to rebuild. Identify people in your network who can help you rebuild your business in this type of scenario. You could even keep a file of their emails separate from everyone else’s.
You can never have too much support along the journey of running your own business. Identify those that offer this support and keep them near you for when you need them.