Building your own business is an exciting journey, but it can also be tough. Frustrations with payroll, problems with inventory, or dealing with Facebook ads can all leave you feeling burned out. When that happens, having someone to turn to for words of encouragement and advice can help you get going again. That’s why, no matter how confident you are, every SMB owner needs a strong support network.
Before the rise of the internet, networking was a local experience. You might join a local business-owners’ club or take up golf. Nowadays, networking is much more global. Online platforms can connect fellow business owners in Delhi and Delaware, Sydney and Singapore; smartphone apps give you a support network in your pocket, 24 hours a day; even conferences are online thanks to Zoom. But don’t overlook old fashioned methods – sometimes meeting a friend for coffee is exactly what you need to get your mojo back.
Let’s take a closer look at six methods you can use to build a strong support network.
1. Join a business association or networking group
Meeting in person is still the best way to forge strong connections, even in the 21st century. Find events happening in your area and head out to meet new people! Organizations to search for include your local branches of:
- Chambers of Commerce
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization
- Business Networking International
- The Rotary Club International
You may also want to check out Meetup.com and Eventbrite to find in-person events taking place in your area, or to schedule your own. Alternatively, you can often find local networking events for entrepreneurs and SMB owners on local Facebook groups or messaging boards, or by asking local business owners.
General networking events such as these put you in contact with people who have a broad range of expertise. That makes them ideal for finding contacts who can help you with areas of your business which are not your speciality, such as accountancy, marketing or HR.
2. Attend industry-specific events and conferences
As a business owner, you’re always striving to improve your expertise within your chosen field. Industry-specific conferences are a fantastic way to learn new skills and get ideas on how to improve and diversify your business [link to diversification blog]. Meeting people who are enthusiastic about your vertical can remind you why you chose your niche in the first place!
Industry-specific events are great places to find people to collaborate with and bounce ideas off, often making them very creative, dynamic spaces. Book a plane or train ticket, and treat yourself to an immersive networking experience as often as your budget will allow.
3. Join online communities
Solopreneurs often find that having someone on-hand to chat to in real time can lighten the load when things are tough. Online communities are ideal for this sort of support.
Good websites to try include
- Bumble Bizz
- Female Business Collective (via Zoom)
- Etsy, Square, and Amazon seller community forums
Look for channels and groups catering to SMB owners in your industry, and get chatting.
4. Hire a mentor or coach
If you’re looking for more in-depth support, consider finding a mentor or coach. The two perform slightly different roles. A mentor fulfills a voluntary role, and is usually someone more experienced in your industry who can give you advice. A coach is a paid individual who’ll help you set short and long term goals, and hold you accountable for reaching them.
The simplest way to find a mentor is to reach out to someone in your field who you admire and ask them whether to mentor you. If you’re not comfortable with that, or haven’t anyone in mind, SCORE can match US residents to mentors in their area.
To find a business coach, either Google for a business coach in your area, or ask for recommendations. You can also contact your local Chamber of Commerce to request a list of local coaches.
5. Turn to old friends
Support doesn’t always have to come from other business owners. If you’re going through a difficult time with your business, the best person to turn to may be your spouse, a friend, or a family member who can offer moral support and encouragement. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help if you need it. Sometimes, all you really need is to share a bottle of wine and let off some steam.
The power of a strong support network
Running your own business is rewarding, but it can be isolating at times. Make sure you surround yourself with a strong support network made up of friends, allies, and other professionals within your field. Turn to them to ask for help with a problem, or just for some moral support when times are tough.
Tap into Payoneer’s support network
As a Payoneer customer, you can tap into our extensive network of partners to propel your business forward. Our partners directory is a treasure trove of opportunities, connecting you with a diverse range of companies ready to provide invaluable support. From ecommerce platforms and marketplaces to service providers and industry leaders, explore our partners directory to unlock new avenues of growth and success.