Who is in Your Entrepreneurial Community?

For the past few years now I've experimented
with just about every method of coaching
and mentoring that is available to solo
professional and entrepreneurs.  All of them have their pros and cons.  But one thing
that I've come to know for sure is that if you are in your own business, you need a
great community of like-minded entrepreneurs around you.  Why?

1. Running your own business is a solitary endeavor.  

Decisions are up to you and you alone.  You need the perspective of other business
owners to round out your own thoughts.  The perspective of your employees (if you
have any) isn't the same thing.

2. Your own energy waxes and wanes.  

I'm not talking about the moon or hormones, either.  The best business owners know
that their own energy has to attract others to them - good staff, great customers, good
deals for rents or whatever else.  And it is very hard to keep your own energy up
where it needs to be without sometimes drawing from the good energy of others.

3. Time inevitably puts you in the box.  

What do I mean by this?  When you created your business you did it to put forward a
new, not previously done type of business.  You felt what you had to offer was unique
and special.  In other words, you were out of the box.  But as time rocks on, your own
thinking gets boxed in by the very dailiness of what you do, by your own fatigue, and
by the fact that others will emulate you.  To keep on re-creating a business that
continually pleases and serves your customers, you need to keep yourself out of the

4. Your ideas, although they are great, can be sharpened and improved by your
entrepreneurial community.  

Simply put, multiple heads are better than one.  Here's a quick example of this.  In one
of my own communities, a woman had a deal with a book publisher for her very first
book.  But she was balking about what the publisher wanted to title the book, taking
issue with both the main title and the tag
line.  She brought it up in our next get
together, only to find that her adamant opinion was not shared by a single one of us!  
We all though the title was good and that, furthermore, the publisher knew what
would sell much more than the author did.  As I pointed out, the author is the subject
matter expert but her publisher is the marketing and sales expert for her book.  All but
one of the entire community basically told her to suck it up.  And after she listened to
us, she did!  She ended up coming all the way back around to what the publisher had
suggested, with only a very minor one-word change.  Which leads me to my next point
about the benefit of being in an entrepreneurial community....

5. It helps you get your own ego out of the way, and think about what you offer from
your customer's point of view.  

Believe you me, you will ONLY be successful if you offer what your customers want
and need, not what you in all your wisdom
think they need.

I could probably come up with a few more good reasons, but I think you, smart as you
are, get the point.  It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a community to
foster a solo business.  I cannot even begin to list for you all that I have learned from
constantly participating in my own communities.  I've gotten both wonderful, gentle,
loving support and a sharp kick in the pants....and both have been beneficial to me.  It
will be the same for you.

My advice is to keep your business focused on who you serve, what those people
need, and how you can best offer products and services that meet those needs.  And
remember to reach out for community regularly.  Both you and your customers will

Sue Painter is a marketing therapist whose expertise is finding the dark and murky under-places
that keep your business from succeeding. She can develop business plans that work, along with
strategic marketing plans that are cost effective and take dead aim at your target market. You can
subscribe to her Marketing Tips e-zine at
Confident Marketer.

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