Navigating Entrepreneurship: Community – Part V

April 30, 2014

Happy Wednesday, y’all! If you’re anything like me, you’re quietly celebrating that you survived Monday and Tuesday, and now Friday is only two days away. Not only does Wednesday bring us that much closer to the weekend but it also brings another post on navigating entrepreneurship! We’ve made some great progress, y’all. We’ve chatted about laying a solid foundation, setting strong boundaries, managing our time wisely and saying “YES!” to our cores and “No thank you!” to less-than-ideal projects. Today, let’s talk about community and the role it plays in the life of a creative business owner!

Before we get into discussing community though, let’s get one thing straight. Before we can build a strong, healthy community of like-minded professionals and colleagues, we need to break the habit of viewing other business owners or freelancers as “the competition.” Yes, you both may sell to the same demographic and yes, your products may have quite a few things in common. But in this global market, don’t you think there are enough customers and resources for you both to thrive? As small business owners, I think it’s easy to fall into the mindset of feeling threatened by anyone who offers a product or service remotely similar to yours. What is easy to forget though, is that person isn’t you. They don’t bring your unique set of skills or customer experience to the table, nor do they offer whatever it is that makes your customers love you so much. Once you allow yourself to reach a place where you can view a fellow business owner as a colleague and not a competitor, you’ll find that not only does your stress level decrease significantly, but you also might be able to learn a thing or two from that person. Everyone has something to contribute, even if it’s simply a fresh perspective on a common topic.

Now that we’re all viewing each other as colleagues and not competitors, let’s take it one step further and admit that we don’t have it all together. Whether you make six figures a year or have 500,000 Instagram followers, there’s still room to learn! If we allow ourselves to fall into the trap that we’re totally composed and put together people 100% of the time, then, not only are we lying to ourselves, but we alienate ourselves from people who either want to learn from us or have something to share with us. In life and in business, we cannot do it all on our own. If anything, it’s lonely sitting by yourself at the top of your mountain of solitude! 

The most successful people in life are those who never stop learning. They naturally have a thirst for knowledge and seek it out in every facet of life. Think of what you could bring to the table if you learned one new skill every month, or even every two months! Not only would your business grow, but you would also grow as an individual, enriching your life and the lives of those around you. Complacency is the enemy of creativity and growth. If you want to become a dynamic, successful and generally knowledgeable business owner, don’t you think you might need to read a few books or dig a little deeper? Challenge yourself to ask questions, connect with other like-minded individuals or approach someone about working and learning together! I think you’ll be delighted by the outcome.
 A strong, healthy community of like-minded professionals brings much more to the table than you could contribute as an individual. While you may do your most inspiring work in solitude, that’s no way to spend your entire career. It’s so crucial to have someone, or a group of people, you can meet for coffee or call on the phone to share an idea, get their opinion or simply to vent about the slight increase in shipping costs at the post office. Community offers us the opportunity to learn from one another, ask questions and try new things. In the confines of a healthy community, you have the chance to be challenged towards greatness and encouraged to reach your full potential. In an invigorating community of friends and colleagues, there is no room for complacency or stagnancy.

Hopefully at this point I’ve got you fired up about going out into the world and finding people to walk alongside you as you both venture down the path of greatness and financial success. Some of you may have the names of friends or local business owners pop into your head while reading this. Others may have no idea where to start, and that’s okay. It’s important to remember that communities that are rich, and full and worth having for the long haul aren’t born overnight. They are painstakingly built and nurtured. Think carefully about the kind of people you want in your inner circle and be sure they share the same goals and values you hold so dear to your heart! The internet can be a great tool for connecting with people who aren’t in your local area (business-themed book club via Skype, anyone?), but do your best to reach out to someone who lives nearby, too. While I love trading emails or connecting on Instagram with friends, there’s nothing quite like sitting down for an invigorating conversation over coffee.

If you don’t take much away from this post, please take away this: keep learning, ask questions, and stay curious. Surround yourself with people who share your passions, can be a sounding board for new ideas and can challenge you to grow. Not only will you grow as an individual and an entrepreneur, but life is much more fun when shared with others.

New to this series? Check out previous posts:

Navigating Entrepreneurship Intro
Navigating Entrepreneurship: Start Strong – Part I 

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I'm Bonnie -- a designer, brand designer + strategist, writer, wife, and pet parent to the most rambunctious golden retriever this side of the Mason-Dixon! I'm passionate about building authentic brands, encouraging small business owners to chase their dreams, and spreading joy through design. It's a delight to have you here, lovely! Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a comfy chair and stay a while, won't you?

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