BY CLAIRE COLLIS
Find a business support network that can help your business to thrive
If there was a single piece of advice I would give to anyone starting or running their own business it would be this – find a trusted person, or people, to talk to about your business early on and make the time to do this regularly.
Why? Because it can be hard to start and run a business. It can be isolating to start and run a business. It can be difficult to get perspective from inside your own business. And mostly because there is really no reason for you to do it all completely by yourself. Having a business support network can help.
How did I come to this stellar realisation? The hard way, of course!
The list of things I didn’t know when I started my own business was endless.
If I had really understood just how much I didn’t know back then the overwhelm of it all would have probably stopped me from even starting.
Don’t get me wrong here, I didn’t think I knew it all, far from it in fact. I just didn’t have any kind of realistic understanding of the crazy steep learning curve that comes with starting a business on your own. My expectations were pretty far removed from the reality of the process as it turned out.
Obviously, there were some things I was expecting to have to learn; the basics of accounting, types of business, how to choose the right one and then how to set it up, how to enable people to pay me online, the basics of data protection laws and how to actually sell anything, to name a few of them. What I wasn’t expecting were the other hundred things that cropped up as I began to learn and just how isolated I would feel (and that was before 2020 raised its ugly head).
So, how has having someone to talk to about my business helped me?
For starters it made me realise that other people in similar positions felt the same way – I wasn’t just being weird when I felt alone sometimes in my entrepreneurial life. I think that we often underestimate the power that seeing our fears reflected in other people can have.
Beyond that, having a business support network has also helped me and my business to thrive in many ways. Having someone to bounce ideas off of, having someone to help me figure out what’s next, and having someone to tell me straight when I’m clearly not helping myself in a particular situation – all of these things are worth their weight in gold and they are just the tip of the iceberg.
And how can having a business support network help you?
The answer to this one will really depend on who you are, what you are trying to achieve, what is holding you back and who you end up talking to, but what is true for everyone is that we are meant to have people in our support systems. And that with support, even in the simplest form of having someone to talk to, we can do so much more and feel so much better about doing it.
Who have I talked to about my business?
Lots of people. Who I’ve talked to has changed as my business has evolved. I’ve worked with expensive business coaches, trainee coaches, free mentors provided through enterprise challenges and informally I’ve found a really lovely and supportive group of women in The Tribe Online.
Each of these situations brings me different perspectives on where I am at with my business at any given moment. Each has helped me in different ways. Finding the right kind of business support network at the right time has been crucial to me, and it was only through talking to a variety of people in different contexts that I found the right support for me.
And, who can/could/should you talk to in and around The Tribe area?
It depends on what kind of support you are looking for. If you aren’t sure, then try some different support types and providers on for size. It’s likely that your needs and wants will change over time. Something that works for you now, might not later and vice versa. It is a very personal thing so give yourself the gift of being choosy about who you work with. You should feel comfortable and trusting of the people you choose to talk to about your business.
If you are shopping for a coach or mentor then you might want to consider these things; how you feel about the approach they take with their clients, their terms and conditions, their pricing and payment structure, what previous clients are saying about them and what, if anything, they specialise in. If you are completely new to the idea of hiring a business coach, then the International Coaching Federation has some good information on how to find a coach.
If you are based in the South West and looking for a business support network these are some excellent (mostly free or fully-funded) places to start in your search for the right support for you at the moment:
And, as you might know, Stacey and I also run The Tribe Online, an online community of like-minded female entrepreneurs who support and uplift each other. These ladies are complete rock stars and I couldn’t have dreamt of a better community for me and my business.
If you are looking for individual support, you can also book low cost one-to-one business coaching with me during my Entrepreneur in Residence stint here at The Tribe (£35/hour session or 10 sessions for £300). My Residence runs until the end of 2021, and availability for this offer is limited. If you’d like to find out more about my style of coaching or to see if we might be a good fit to work together, please book in for a short virtual chat with me. You can also get in touch via email; firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are thinking of setting up your own business or turning a side hustle into your main business and you’d like to find support from like-minded female entrepreneurs who are embarking on the same business journey, consider booking yourself a hot desk at our coworking space in Totnes. We’re building a lovely supportive community of women from Totnes, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Exeter and Plymouth and we’d love to welcome you in.
And while you’re here, perhaps you would like to sign up to our newsletter so you can find out about our upcoming events for female business owners in and around Totnes.
Claire Collis is a digital education specialist and ghostwriter who works with entrepreneurs and small business owners, supporting them to create books and online courses as strategic pillars of their growing businesses. Through her mentoring and consultancy work she helps clients to share their stories, knowledge and expertise in ways that support their goals, their businesses and, in turn, those of their clients.