It takes a village to raise a business. Just like we benefit from support, encouragement, and helping hands as mamas, we need to lean on others to thrive as business owners. Call them your accountability partners, your mastermind group, or your tribe--you need some business besties in your corner to support you as the mother of your business.
In an age where we can DIY everything and outsource the rest, it’s easy to feel like solo-preneurs have to be solo, that asking for help shows weakness, and that we should be able to figure it all out on our own. But that’s not how we’re meant to function! As humans, we crave connection. We need each other. As we learn to lean on our sisters in business, we all grow and we all benefit.
After years of working for someone else, I found entrepreneurship to be freeing at first. And then I soon found it to be incredibly isolating. I needed colleagues! I needed coworkers! I needed someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to vent to, someone to celebrate with. But my one-woman-business wasn’t expanding to include another member (or even a water cooler) any time soon.
But over time, I found my people. I now have a supportive crew of sisters cheering me on and picking me up when I fall. We hold each other accountable to take action on our goals. We call each other for brainstorming sessions when we’re feeling stuck. We text each other when we make silly mistakes. We proofread each other’s web copy, we share industry resources, and we give each other a stern talking to when our prices seem to undervalue our work. We send each other referrals, share each other’s offers, and pop champagne for each other when we find success. In every sense, we are biz BFFs, and our businesses flourish because of this support.
Do you have a tribe of women in your corner? Whether you’re looking for your first business friend or you want to grow your support network, here are 3 easy steps to follow when building your sisterhood:
Step 1 - Be your authentic self. I know that sounds like Danny Tanner advice, but it’s the oldest advice in the book for a reason! There can be a lot of pressure to be professional and show your best face. And sure, showing your customers your highlight reel instead of your messy backstage has its benefits. But there is also a time for vulnerability. People want to know you because you’re YOU! Be who you are, quirks and all, and people will be attracted to the real you. The friends you make when you are yourself are the ones that you can lean on when things get tough and the ones who will be as happy for your successes as they are for their own.
This also means being open about your business when you’re talking to your non-business friends. It can feel like we talk about our businesses all the time because we’re IN them and we don’t want to bore our friends. But the truth is, everyone’s busy and thinking about their own work, some of your friends might not even know what you do! When you talk to them about your business--and especially when you share that you’d love to meet other business owners--you may find they have friends to introduce you to or that they’re thinking of starting a business too!
Step 2 - Put yourself where people are. Seems obvious, but this is a real stretch for a lot of us! We’re busy with our businesses, we’re busy with our families, maybe we’re shy or we’re introverts or we just haven’t had to make new friends since middle school and it’s scary! But if you step just a little bit out of your comfort zone, a whole new world opens up and you will find your tribe in all sorts of unexpected places.
Not sure where to start? Online groups are an easy, low-risk place to meet people (you don’t even have to get out of your jammies!) Do a search for entrepreneur groups on Facebook. When your favorite blogger does a link-up or announces a free challenge, join in. Or start interacting with other business owners you admire online and see where that relationship goes.
Attending a workshop, course, or conference is another great place to meet like-minded entrepreneurs. Attending an event within your industry is not only a great way to learn more about business, but you get to meet people who know exactly what you’re going through. It may feel weird at first to rub elbows with your competition, but making industry friends is huge when it comes to sharing resources, problem solving, and feeling like someone else “gets” it. Courses designed to improve your business are also an awesome way to make biz friends. The relationships I’ve seen form in my online course, Branding from the Inside Out are incredible! When everyone’s working through a course, sharing their work, giving and receiving feedback, and helping each other get unstuck, a special bond forms.
And of course, The MOB NW and MOB+Alliance are here to bring businesswomen together and help you form supportive friendships. We offer 3 networking events per month, quarterly conferences, monthly webinars, and an active and engaging Facebook community, and endless opportunities to get out and meet each other both on and offline. If you are searching for your sisterhood, we would love to welcome you!
Step 3 - Nurture these relationships. It’s not enough to just meet people. Maintaining friendships takes some work. (Fun work! But effort nonetheless.) When you meet someone at a networking event that you click with, follow up a few days later to grab coffee. When you bond with another entrepreneur in an online course, reach out and ask how her new project is going and propose weekly emails to share your progress with each other. When your new biz friend launches a new product, share it like the biggest fangirl on the planet. Be a listening ear. Be a cheerleader. Be a Biz BFF. And you’ll find that your tribe will support you right back!