Community is imperative and there is no space where it is more important than entrepreneurship. I say that because small business get so lonely and it isn’t always easy to go out and find community when so much of the work you are doing is so insular and head down. When you are a small business owner you tend to be so focused on what is going on in your own little neck of the woods you forget there is a whole world out there of people living and working and thriving.
I remember, in the beginning, how exhilarating it was to know that I owned my time and that I could do with my day anything I wanted to and then the work started rolling in and that “freedom” I thought I had became wrought with all of the things I had to do to keep from drowning and it was lonely because I was in a unique position that many of the other people in my life were not in and couldn’t empathize with.
I had to learn how to create community and to surround myself with people who would understand my needs and rise to the occasion to meet them, and in turn me do the same for them.
Here are a few quick tips I have for creating community as an entrepreneur.
Create Space: If you want community, you have to create space and time for it. You can’t expect to have community if you aren’t willing to carve out time to nurture relationships, particularly relationships that are similar to where you are in your life. To cultivate friendship, you have to make the time for it.
Give to Receive: Don’t go into community expecting, rather go into connecting in community looking to see how you can pour out. Like most things in life, so many people are taking, but the real win is what you give and how you can give toward others. When you open yourself up to helping others, showing up for others with a willingness to serve, community happens organically.
Keep Your Word and Show Up: Be known for being the one that people can count on to keep their word and to show up. There’s something about being a small business owner that all of a sudden makes you lazy when it comes to social interactions and functions, trust me I know. The worst thing that you can allow to happen is for people to get used to attaching you to the idea of someone who can’t be counted on or who doesn’t show up. You know those friends who say they are going to stop by, but never come or never come when they say they will? I have several people in my life like that. When they text and say they are coming - even if they give a date and time, I don’t adjust my day because I know they are NOT going to show up and 99.9% of the time, they don’t. Try really hard not to be that person because building community requires your presence and it requires your consistent commitment to showing up, almost every time and having a reputation for it.
Stay in Your Lane: Last but not least, the most important piece in being together with others is keeping your head down and “staying in your lane.” Creating community with like minded people requires a fierce understanding of who you are and what makes you unique. Being around others who are in the same field can often bring up the unintended feeling or need to compare and it happens naturally when we are trying to find our place or space in community, but it can also be counter productive to creating really beautiful connections with others. The best way to combat this is to know who you are and what makes you unique and owning that completely. It will then allow you to show up as yourself, full confident and ready to connect.
If you are in search of community, I hope that these few tips will get you thinking about ways you can begin to start building one and if you are already in community with others, I hope these tips provide reminders of how to keep it strong and thriving.
With strength, courage and wisdom,