When you are running a business your business inspiration can come from almost anywhere. However, a few small business owners forget to use one of the most important tools laying at their fingertips. One of the most important tools that you can use is community. In any city there will always be a community to connect with, and as an entrepreneur, you need this. There is the community of small business owners, already established, and full of knowledge, right there in your city. There is a community of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in your industry or niche, again, right there in your city. You can usually find them at any tech spot, online, or at the university. (Ask the local Chamber of Commerce for some suggestions if you are new to the area.) Watch for events where you can hook up with like-minded individuals. Often these communities become your inspiration, your friends, your partners, and your emotional support community. Even if they are not a close friend, your community will listen, because they all need and want to know what you have to say. Your community will help you figure out what went wrong or what went right so that they can use this knowledge to their mutual benefit. Here are 5 benefits of having or joining a professional community for entrepreneurs:
Learning from each other's mistakes:
It is an important function of your community of entrepreneurs to be aware of what is going on with each other's businesses and really understand the complete story of what is happening in the business. If you are paying attention you will be able to see some actions that others in the group are using that may or may not work for you. It is a great way to avoid some major pit falls in the business world by giving you the direction to take, and the possibility of being able to use their adaptations for some great success maneuver in your own business. Most entrepreneurs I know like talking openly, truthfully, and want direct discussions. Each entrepreneur "gets," to take their turn at success and at failure. Listen and learn and you'll save yourself a lot of headaches. "Entrepreneurship is synonymous with failure," says Derek Andersen the founder of Startup Grind, a 150-Chapter community for entrepreneurs. "Great entrepreneurs probably fail more than anyone else but they relentlessly search for solutions while at the same time being unafraid of the consequences of short term failure."
Exchanging tips of the trade:
For any entrepreneur, just starting out is so exciting, but this time of beginnings can also be confusing. Having other people that have had some experience be there to give you tips and secrets that you can use helps tremendously. You will be able to start off smoothly and keep going strong when the times are tougher. While you can and should read about many tips online, it helps to hear experiences from the pros, understanding that the only real way to find out for sure what works for you is to try the new ideas and information you find out from your community and apply the suggestions in your own life and business. These exchanges about the tips of the trade will help you have a greater depth in your connections with these people. You will in turn give your tips to the group, and reciprocate the help that you have received. It's great.
Passing on knowledge:
One of the biggest functions of a community of entrepreneurs is to pass on the knowledge that has been gathered from experienced professionals to the less experienced entrepreneurs. But this is also a place where you can find a mentor, and/or become a mentor for someone else. In a tight, trusted group of entrepreneurs you become a long standing business partnership and establish yourself with each other as a safe place to garner advice when you have a heavy decision to make. You each become a needed person for the other entrepreneurs that are there.
Networking is a skill that you will always need in business and in your personal life. If you don't know how to do this naturally, learn about it. Making these connections within your community is the greatest reason the community is there. In your network of entrepreneurs you will find that, in time, you will know each other well enough that you can give them a reference if they need one and they will do the same for you. You can do favors for each other and help your entire community grow their businesses and get ahead. This network builds trust and confidence in each person of the group. Willingly displaying positive actions for each other raises your whole group to a place of success and accomplishment.
Learning new business skills:
A great action that can yield some forward thinking achievement in your community group is to learn new business skills together. One way to do this is to highlight the accomplishments of one or more members at your meetings. Sort of like a mini summit. Your community of B2B entrepreneurs can offer services and skill sets to make the lives of entrepreneurs easier!
You can always start your own entrepreneurial group, online or otherwise. There are no rules here, but the benefits will outweigh any hassle it may take to get your community started.