Sweat pours down my face. The cool, gentle breeze offers little relief from the oppressive July afternoon. My feet pound the pavement harder than I mean for them to. I start to question my sanity as I begin mile three on what should should be an easy run in my neighborhood.
Then I see them. Two other runners approach me, struggling just like me. We smile and exchange greetings (as most good runners in the South do.) Our encounter lasts mere seconds, but something changes inside me. Encouragement washes over me. I feel my pace naturally increasing. My feet are lighter, and the thought of completing my run is not so burdensome.
Owning a creative business is similar to this. The struggle is real, and the road is long. But know this: you’re not out there alone. Just as seeing those other runners encouraged me to press on and have a strong finish for my run……..business owners inspire other entrepreneurs. You and I may have a different product or service that we provide, but we certainly have similar challenges.
Build a network.
Build a network of entrepreneurial friends. Business owners who share your faith will be particularly helpful, of course. But don’t automatically discount relationships with those who don’t share your same faith. Jesus calls us to be salt and light in this world. Coming alongside someone and encouraging him/her is a wonderful way to open the door to talk about your faith.
So…where do you meet other entrepreneurs?
If I run in my neighborhood, I’m fortunate to see a couple of other runners. But if I run along the River Walk downtown, I’m bound to see dozens of other people running….no matter what time of day it is.
Go where the people are. One of the greatest networks I’ve ever joined is the Rising Tide Society. It was founded by creative entrepreneurs with the goal of “educating and empowering creatives to thrive in the spirit of community over competition.” This is a national organization that has local chapters worldwide. I am a member of the Jacksonville chapter, and we meet in person once a month as a group. The Facebook group for our local chapter is also very active. I have met some amazing people through this connection! I’ve learned so much, and I’ve been able to network with other business owners in related fields.
Other options for meeting fellow entrepreneurs include Facebook groups, Meetup, and searching for specific tags on Instagram. With today’s technology, you certainly don’t have to live in the same region to have a meaningful relationship with someone. That’s one of the huge blessings of the internet! In addition, mastermind groups take things to a deeper level; they can also be a great benefit to your small business.
Whatever you do, the time to network is NOW! Even if it’s typically “not your thing,” put yourself out there anyway. Yes, there are a number of people out there who will give you the cold shoulder. However, we live in a climate where most business owners have realized that helping one another is truly the best way. When a fellow entrepreneur helps your business become better, it enhances public opinion everyone in that area of business. This, in turn, helps us get business. Referrals can occur back and forth, as well. It’s a win-win situation!
As you’re running your business, remember that you’re not alone. Look for fellow entrepreneurs and connect!