A few years ago, I was at my wit's end trying to set up payment processing. Three full days of Googling and I was more confused than when I'd started.

Because I was "supposedly" a digital marketer, I was too embarrassed to ask for help. I didn't want anyone to know I didn't know how to do this.

Out of the blue, a friend called who happened to be a startup founder. She sensed something was up and asked me what was wrong. I came clean and told her I couldn't figure out payment processing for my life.

"Oh yeah, no one understands it," she said.

Turns out, I was one of thousands of other business owners pulling their hair out trying to understand this stuff. She asked me a few questions about my business and technical skills and in less than 5 minutes, she'd solved a problem that had taken up three full days of my life.

That's when it hit me: You have an unfair advantage in business when you surround yourself with people who are ahead of you.

My friend not only solved my problem, she validated that I wasn't crazy. That kind of support is invaluable when you're building a business - something that's isolating and difficult by definition.

In middle school, they warn you about the "dangers" of peer pressure. But it turns out that there's actually an upside to it no one tells you about.

That's the secret weapon successful entrepreneurs have that I didn't - they surround themselves with a tribe of people who are several steps ahead of them. They use their peers as a secret weapon.

You can flip your desire to "fit in and keep up" into a good thing by surrounding yourself with people who make you better. 

If you're not where you want to be, look at who you're spending your time with.

In my case, I was surrounded by wantrepreneurs and normal people with 9:5 jobs. They were great as friends, but they weren't the right people to talk to about business stuff.

I needed people who could brainstorm pricing strategies, give me feedback on launch funnels, and talk me through what it's like to break up with a client. 

When I found those people, my business soared. 

Being in NYC, I had an unfair advantage because there are tons of entrepreneurs here. In an effort to give this unfair advantage to other business owners who don't live in markets like Austin, San Francisco, and NYC, I created a virtual coworking space. 

The goal was to connect solopreneurs from all over the country to see if they influenced each other's behavior for the better. 

IT WORKED. 

Within weeks people were stepping up their game, pushing themselves harder than before, and feeling less pressure to focus on the wrong things.

When you're surrounded by people who are several steps ahead of you, you have no choice but to get better.

Those kinds of people push you to ship your work, give you feedback instead of praise, and hold you accountable to the goals you set for yourself. 

That's what we do in my virtual coworking space.

That's the unfair advantage successful entrepreneurs have that you can too - a tribe of people who make you better.

If you want to get ahead in business, you have to surround yourself with people who raise you to a higher standard.

When you do that, you have no choice but to step up your game and rise to the top.

Published on: Feb 8, 2018