Starting a startup is an exciting, scary, emotional journey. For many of us, it means putting a lifelong dream into action and taking the first step of becoming our own boss. It means fulfilling our professional potential, and giving something real back to society at the same time. It’s awesome, in the real sense of the word.
Knowing all of this, it surprises me how isolated within one’s company many start-up founders seem to be. While they confide and commiserate with colleagues, they don’t seem to reach out and connect with business owners like them who go through the same challenges and have similar life experiences.
This is sad to me, because my network of other start ups and small businesses is often what gets me up in the morning. Everyone from my clients, Xero affiliates, and start up founders unrelated to my industry who I have met along the course of my journey are a constant source of comfort and inspiration for me. They are my teachers, students, friends, and often the yard stick I use to make sure I am measuring up and keep me on my toes.
Here are a few reasons I think that every startup founder should seek out a network of like minded people to help them make their business a success:
- Partnership opportunities abound! – Once you start making connections with other start ups,, you will start to see how networking helps your business by opening the door for partnerships you never would have found just by marketing and advertising. Becoming friends with people in different industries, even becoming friends with your competitors, is a great way to promote your company. Whether it’s small details like linking out to each other’s blog posts, or bigger partnership opportunities like creating a fused product, there are so many things that can happen when entrepreneurial spirits get together.
- It’s less lonely, simple as that- The stress, responsibility, uncertainty, and time commitment of running a startup can make life feel pretty lonely. Your employees cannot play the role of a confidant, and your family gets sick of hearing about the day to day drudgery of running a company. Having a network of people who know what it’s like and can offer real advice and perspective can be a lifesaver when things get hard.
- You will learn a ton- Get to know other start-up owners, and you will learn a lot about how to run a company. Everyone does it in their own way, and swapping stories is a fascinating way to refine your own technique and consider new ideas. Even your competition can help you to figure out where you stand in the industry and to help uncover what it is about your company that makes it unique. Don’t push your competitors away– there is probably enough pie for all of you to have a piece, and figuring out who fits best where can help your company thrive in the long run.
- You will get referrals- Most of my business comes from word of mouth referrals, and I am convinced that this is the case because I spread my network wide and talk to a lot of people. As great as smart marketing is, nothing can replace the sense of trust that comes from a word of mouth recommendation. So go out there and get to know people and watch your business grow.