There are an estimated 31 million entrepreneurs in the U.S., and this number is only growing. This expansive group of individuals can get competitive, and it’s easy to feel like it’s a dog-eat-dog world. But no entrepreneur is an island — to survive, it’s always best to focus on building a community. In fact, in a recent survey of small business owners across the country, 91% said that having a community is the key to business success.
Why is community so critical to entrepreneurs? How can founders find their network and leverage it for the benefit of both their business and the community as a whole? Let’s find out.
The Importance of Building Community to Small Business Owners
While a vast majority of small business owners believe in the importance of community, nearly a quarter of them report that they do not belong to one. Still, 92% feel that the need for community support is growing. Why does building a community matter so much? Take a look at the facts:
- Entrepreneurs who are part of a community were more likely to report their business performing better YOY.
- Belonging to a community improves access to necessary resources, knowledge, and tools for business owners to succeed.
- Business owners who have support are able to contribute more and improve their local communities.
Avoiding Isolation as an Entrepreneur
Community is key, but many entrepreneurs travel a lonely road. As the head of the company (and sometimes the sole employee), entrpreneurs can feel as if they are wearing all the hats. The weight of the world — and the success of their business — rests entirely on their shoulders.
A Gallup Wellbeing Index uncovered some disturbing trends — that entrepreneurs are more likely to feel isolated, anxious, and stressed out. How can business owners prioritize their mental and physical health while still staying focused on their goals? Here are some tips:
- Set routines for your day, and stick with them.
- Make time for your social circle, and work on maintaining relationships.
- Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
- Get outside as often as possible, whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood or a stop at your local café.
- Eat balanced meals at regular intervals, and take frequent breaks.
- Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if loneliness or stress becomes too much.
Of course, one of the best ways to combat entrepreneurial isolation is by joining a community of like-minded business owners. But where do you find them?
How to Find a Small Business Community
Finding a small business community isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. It can be difficult to find a group that meets in-person, but the same study mentioned above also found that 31% of entrepreneurs have no virtual community, either. So how can you build your support network, no matter what kind? Here are some ideas:
- Explore online communities for entrepreneurs in your industry or niche. Start with LinkedIn, but check other social platforms as well.
- Find local chapters of organizations that support small businesses (e.g., Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, etc.).
- Get matched with a business mentor through SCORE.
- Register for virtual conferences, professional development courses, or other avenues to connect with entrepreneurs in your field.
- If you have employees, evaluate your workplace culture, and find areas to improve and strengthen it.
Resources to Build Your Network
We know that small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and communities genuinely want those businesses to succeed. There are resources and tools available to entrepreneurs if they know where to look. Here are some organizations and services that will help you build your network while allowing your business to thrive:
- The Small Business Administration: The SBA provides Small Business Development Centers around the country. Find yours to check out local networking and continued education opportunities.
- Chamber of Commerce: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides many online resources for entrepreneurs. Find your local Chamber to take advantage of in-person training and networking opportunities.
- National Association for the Self-Employed: Associations and professional organizations are a perfect way to connect with other business owners and build your network, and NASE is a fantastic option with tons of free tools to get you started. You can use NASE as an example when looking for other member-based organizations that fulfill a similar purpose.
Small business ownership can be a lonely road, but entrepreneurs don’t need to walk it alone. The tips here will help business owners take care of their well-being, connect with others, and grow a thriving business built on a strong and supportive community.
Interesting Related Article: “5 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know“