Creating a supportive entrepreneurial environment is essential to new entrepreneurs no matter what your age or experience. For me, this is all about the people you surround yourself with in your business.
Napoleon Hill said:
“Close friends and relatives, while not meaning to do so, often handicap one through “opinions” and sometimes through ridicule, which is meant to be humorous. Thousands of men and women carry inferiority complexes with them all through life, because some well-meaning, but ignorant person destroyed their confidence through “opinions” or ridicule.” (Think and Grow Rich.)
Whatever age you are when you are setting up in business, you need to surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you. These are the sort of people who notice your many small triumphs and encourage you to learn from the things that do not go to plan. They inspire you through their actions and learning. They say things like: ‘What is the next thing you can do towards your goal?’, ‘You can learn how to do that.’ and ‘I know someone who can help you with that.’
These people may be business contacts, coaches, friends or family members. What matters most is their attitude. Search them out.
Remember; emotions are contagious.
If you spend time with positive people you are more likely to be positive. If you spend time with people who are negative, you are more likely to become negative. That is why it is important to avoid or limit your exposure to people who say things like: ‘That will never work’, ‘You can’t do that’, ‘You will never succeed at…’ or ‘Who do you think you are? Richard Branson!’
If you have to spend time with people who have negative attitudes, develop an invisible shield that has the power to repel unhelpful energy and remarks. Visualise wrapping it around yourself whenever one of these people approaches you. See the negative stuff bouncing off your shield with a reassuring ‘Ping’! Send the energy back with love. You can stand inside your shield, safe and smiling.
Do not ask your family and for business advice unless that is their profession. They love you and their advice will be based in their desire to keep you safe and away from pain. That is not a helpful perspective for an entrepreneur.
Building a Network
If you are a new entrepreneur it is essential to set up a network of business contacts. The benefits of networking include:
- Connecting with other business owners
- Developing mutually beneficial relationships
- Marketing your product or service
- Building a group of people you trust and respect
- Exchanging information, advice and referrals
If you are a solopreneur, attending a regular network group can help you to feel less alone. Attending networking groups can also be a safe way of practising and finessing your elevator pitch.
You could network for every hour of every day. You could start with a breakfast meeting, and then move on to a mid-morning coffee group before you go to a lunch group, and so on, ending with an evening gathering. You need to decide what you want to achieve from networking. You may want to achieve a certain number of referrals or build your business’s image or brand.
Most networking groups allow you to attend two or three meetings before you have to join. Try a few and find what works best for you and your business before you commit to any annual membership fees. Remember, networking is about building relationships and that takes time. Do not expect overnight results.
I attend a monthly women’s network group. At one meeting I was sitting next to a visitor and we were discussing our businesses. I told her what I did and she said, ‘Wow, I am looking for a Cognitive Hypnotherapist’. No one has ever said anything that specific to me but she showed me the search she had used on Google. She immediately booked a session with me and followed up with a second session. She then referred a friend to me who booked in for two sessions. She was so happy with the results that she referred me to colleague who had four sessions! Eight sessions booked from one conversation.
The idea of the mastermind group came from Napoleon Hill’s book, ‘Think and Grow Rich’. He described it as ‘The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work towards a definite purpose in the spirit of harmony.’
The benefits of a mastermind group are; mutual support, differing perspectives, resources and accountability. I would add friendship to that list.
I love my Mastermind Group! In the group is a social media stylist, an artist, a yoga teacher, a therapist and a coach. We meet every six weeks. We celebrate each other’s successes, encourage each other to take the next step, we learn from each other and we provide a shoulder to cry on when times are tough.
There are no rules about the constitution of mastermind groups but between 4-6 members seems to be a good number. It does not matter if the members are in the same business as you, what is important is that they share your values.
If you are fortunate, you may be asked to join an existing group. If not, consider starting your own group. Invite people who have a similar drive and commitment. Look for people with diverse skill sets who are prepared to share their knowledge and experience. It is helpful to include people who are good at giving feedback and who are active problem solvers. You all need to commit to regular meetings.
To make those meetings worthwhile give each person the same amount of time to talk about their topic. It is most effective if you have a regular agenda which may include a specific topic for the meeting, such as how to run webinars. You can rotate the role of Chair or facilitator so that no one person feels put upon. Celebrate your successes and keep a note of lessons learned from your experiences.
Extract from the #1 International Bestselling Book ‘Hot Women Rock: How to discover your midlife entrepreneurial mojo.’ Buy your copy now.