The old proverb, “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are,” translates into surrounding yourself with the right people.
As a startup founder, surrounding yourself with like-minded entrepreneurs can have a major impact on your own success and that of your business. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs often fail to seek out others for a variety of reasons, including fear, feeling inadequate or a lack of time. But in my 10 years of running an agency, I’ve learned that associating yourself with other successful entrepreneurs goes a long way.
Here’s what you can stand to gain by proactively seeking out other entrepreneurs.
Inspiration from their passion
Spending time with like-minded individuals has a direct impact on your own mindset. By seeking out other business owners and entrepreneurs like yourself, regardless of what industry or market they happen to be in, you’ll get fired up about being an entrepreneur.
While it’s not always easy to meet up with other entrepreneurs, I’m always impressed when I do. Their success, determination and confidence often give me the courage to make the next move or to know that I’m still in the game.
For example, a few months ago I talked with a long-time entrepreneur. He’s been in business for more than 30 years and told me about an upgrade to his facility to a state-of-the-art, green operation. He was so fired up about this that I was astounded at the level of passion he still had for his business. This, in turn, got me fired up about how to improve my own operation.
Connection to influencers
If we think about big-name stars, they usually talk about the day they got their “big break.” For entrepreneurs and young business owners, this “big break” is about making the right connections. Spending time with other entrepreneurs opens the door to connecting with even more influential people and getting your name out there. It can also lead to business referrals or joint business ventures.
Being supportive and lending a helping hand is key to showing value to fellow entrepreneurs. You won’t be handed a business referral or an opportunity by pestering people. They have to feel like you are ready to help them before they’ll think of you when they meet someone that needs your product or service.
I can tell you that it works. I’ve had some great referrals and opportunities thanks to some good connections I’ve made. Most of my initial projects came as referrals from connections I made early on. As non-glamorous as it was, it was what I needed to get started.
Shortened learning curve
This is my favorite aspect: If you’re engaging with entrepreneurs, you will learn from them at a much faster rate than you would learn on your own. The typical entrepreneur learns by trial and error. Failing is a normal process of learning how to do something better. But learning about it from someone who’s been there can save you time, money and more. The value of shortening your learning curve is huge.
I’ve been blessed to know a variety of entrepreneurs from different walks of life, and I’ve learned everything from how to incentivize employees to how to manage business finances. A successful entrepreneur once told me his secret to managing 50 locations and hundreds of employees: “I don’t babysit.” What he meant was that he did not believe in micromanaging. With so many locations across the country, he had learned that the best thing was to set clear expectations for each location, each position and each role. Rather than micromanage the day-to-day, he focused on whether or not expectations were being met.
Making connections with other entrepreneurs can be a challenge. Busy schedules and hectic lifestyles don’t make it easy to connect. However, the value of making those connections and nurturing those relationships is priceless. Go out of your way to seek like-minded entrepreneurs and you’ll be surprised at how much you can gain.