Let me guess…
When you started your business, you thought your days would give you the freedom to schedule in coffee dates with new professionals, lunch (or, my favorite, brunch!) with your closest business friends, and ample time for networking with the best in the business.
Now that you’re inside the business world, it looks a lot more like spending long hours behind your laptop screen trying to come up with your next newsletter topic or reorganizing your Instagram feed multiple times until you get it just right.
What about all of the freedom and flexibility you were promised?
What about the fun vacations with your best girlfriends, or the mastermind retreats and conferences you were going to be a frequent attendee of?
We often see these things on social media, but for most of us, our lives are not that glamorous.
Even more than that, it’s easy to feel alone after all that time behind your computer.
No one tells you about the isolation that can easily come with being a full-time entrepreneur.
You want to spend time growing your business, which keeps you attached at the hip with your laptop, but you also want to connect and stay in touch with your loved ones while making new connections.
Something’s gotta give!
I’ve experienced moments of isolation in just about every stage of business.
So much so that I actually wore my laptop out and was diagnosed with carpal tunnel in the same week. I was definitely spending too much time behind a screen!
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own projects that you forget to take time to cultivate new and existing relationships. It’s even easier for introverts who would rather skip public events and stay at home while they work from bed. (I count myself as a part of this group!)
When you feel alone and isolated, you can’t do your best creative work.
As humans, we naturally crave connection because it gives us a sense of belonging.
There are a few people who can somehow live in the woods on their own, live off the land, and be totally fine without seeing any other humans, but most of us are NOT like that.
Okay, back to my original train of thought…
When we isolate ourselves from others, namely in the entrepreneurship world, we cut ourselves off from opportunities we could never have if we only work alone.
This is why building a community is so important for creative entrepreneurs.
“Community” has become such a buzzword that sometimes it hardly seems to mean anything. The same thing is true for “tribe” and “collective”.
Even though these words are tossed around a lot online, it’s crucial that we understand the role community plays in our businesses and lives.
When we start our businesses, it’s easy to feel alone because we don’t want to bother other “successful” entrepreneurs with our questions and are afraid to look like a fraud if we don’t have everything figured out day one.
Then we learn not to ask for help, to stay silent and put on a simple smile when people ask us how things are going, and retreat to our home offices or bedrooms to research and find the answer on our own.
Have you ever felt like you are the only person who is struggling with something in your business?
It’s simply not true! With over 22 million solo entrepreneurs in the US alone, there is bound to be at least a few people who are coming across the same issue that you are.
Instead of feeling like you need to have everything figured out on your own, this provides the perfect opportunity to bond with others. They may point you to other resources, give you advice from when they encountered the same thing, or maybe won’t have anything to add but can give you encouragement along the way.
This is what community really looks like (or at least what it should look like)!
It’s about rallying around each other, lifting each other up, and going the extra mile to provide value, encouragement, and a helping hand when it’s needed.
Without community, we will feel like we’re endlessly wandering in search for answers we can’t find on our own. We need others to illuminate other possibilities, help us understand where to move next, and empower us to take the first bold steps today.
And when I talk about community, I don’t just mean building community online.
An online community is powerful, especially when you create connections over email or Instagram, but it’s not the only place to form connections with other entrepreneurs.
You can also attend mastermind retreats, local networking events, and conferences to meet more like-minded people like you all in one room.
You could even meet some business friends at your favorite coffeeshop. If you like to work there during the day, chances are other business owners are doing the same thing! Strike up a conversation about what they’re working on and see how you may be able to help or encourage them.
Once you have a few business friends, you may want to host private, intimate events for the people you know and love. You could host an entrepreneurship book club, influencer dinners, or have an accountability group as you work on similar projects.
If you like to work around other people, ask a few of those business friends to come over for a regular coworking session! You can get things done while having accountability and company. What could be better?!
So who is in your creative entrepreneurial community?
Spend some time today and make a list of some of your closest entrepreneurial friends. Once you have the list, think about ways you can love on them and support them in what projects they are working on.
Can you send a text every week to see how things are going? Can you help them stay accountable for their monthly goals? Can you meet every quarter to discuss what you’ve learned and what you need to know for your next season of business?
There are so many ways you can support your fellow entrepreneurs, especially in your local area. Keep up with them on Instagram, Facebook, and anywhere else they share updates so you are always in-the-know with what’s going on, but don’t forget to send a text or hop on the phone when you have the opportunity. That’s how real connections are made.
If you don’t have any entrepreneurial friends, that’s totally okay! This is the perfect time for you to set an intention for who you would like to connect with and explore opportunities in your area that will help you meet those people.
Maybe you’ll find a new gathering on Meetup or Eventbrite. You could also try looking in Facebook groups to see if there are entrepreneur groups that are already meeting up in your area. (Rising Tide Society is a great place to start!)
If you want to expand your reach and go outside of your local area, you can connect with entrepreneurs you admire online and ask them on a virtual coffee date. It doesn’t have to be long, but you might find someone you hit it off with really well!
From there, it could turn into a regular meeting time every week, month, or quarter where you share what you’ve been working on and what you are thinking about introducing into your business in the near future.
I love taking some time every few weeks to meet new entrepreneurs and learn more about the businesses they just started. Even though I started my first business over ten years ago, I still remember the excitement, anxiety, and nerves around building something completely new. Helping them walk through those transitions is such a joy!
A community isn’t something that happens on its own.
It needs to be cultivated with care.
The more you prioritize community, the more success you’ll find in entrepreneurship. Every business is built on the foundation of relationships, so isolation is the worst place we can find ourselves in.
We aren’t alone in this journey. This is an invitation to bravely reach out to a few new people, follow up with connections you’ve made in the past, and cultivate a brand that is community focused.
It’ll be the best investment you ever make in your business.
How do you make time to invest in your community? Do you have a stronger local or online community? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.