Small business owners often find themselves with their nose to the grindstone, doing so much and focused solely on getting work out the door. It’s important to break free of this mindset and connect with other leaders who are in the same space. You can go further when you find your tribe, the right community of people who are at the same stage of business that you are, who want to be engaged with others and growing together. The saying is true—if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Your ability to sustain your growth and momentum as a business owner is going to last a lot longer with the right business community.
Understanding Business Communities
If you’re one of those leaders stuck working in the business versus on the business, it’s possible you haven’t considered or even heard of a business community. The word “community” is worth taking a closer look at since it can take on various meanings. The first definition from the Oxford English Dictionary is a group of people living in the same place or having particular characteristics in common. The second definition is a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
As small business owners, we need a safe community of people who have common goals and want to support each other. When we don’t have a group of peers, we share our struggles elsewhere for feedback. Our spouses, parents, and friends don’t understand business ownership and their advice is going to be much different that those who have been where we are and can share their insights and experiences.
Likewise, a staff meeting is not the right place to throw your hands up and say you’re at a loss in a situation. A transparent business owner brings their staff a plan to work through a problem. A business community is the place where you can admit you don’t know what to do and work through it with others. You can develop that plan that will make your staff feel safe and confident in your leadership.
Fellow business owners do have buy-in and they are invested in you and your business. The big difference is that it’s not personal to them. They don’t have that big swing of emotions and they can come at your problems from a much more centered place of giving feedback.
The Value of Business Communities
I’ve seen how powerful and inspiring a business community can be from the perspective of a member. And a facilitator, my experiences have been a driving force behind partnering with Jeff Heyer-Jones, president of SparkEvolve, to create The Inflection Point Hub. One opportunity we knew we would offer members of this peer advisory group was hot seat sessions, during which an individual brings a challenge to the group so they can all brainstorm together and figure out a path forward.
The value of this process is exponential. It made all the difference for a very talented friend of mine who started her business in the difficult aftermath of losing her job with a big regional video production company. We were both members of a community of women business owners when she encountered a challenge and didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, she had a safe place in our community where she could be vulnerable and tap into the expertise of a dozen or so leaders who understood what it was like to be in that position.
What kind of feedback might she have received from a spouse or parent? What kind of uncertainty would she have created if she took her dilemma to her staff? She was able to describe her struggle and be heard by a group of people who were not going to judge her or have an emotional response. We shared our thoughts and experiences with her and what we’d learned from them. It wasn’t about telling her what to do, yet she left that meeting knowing how she wanted to move forward. After hearing about our success and failures, she had the confidence to take a chance, try something out and see how it went.
Finding the Right Business Community
I’m so grateful for the business community in which I currently participate and, at times, facilitate. We pay for our membership and it’s worth every penny. Just having those people in my corner through thick and thin is everything. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to getting on that Zoom call every Wednesday morning. I give by sharing my experiences and expertise. I receive by learning from the other leaders in the group. It's a very reciprocal relationship and we’re friends on the journey together.
There are a few important things you should keep in mind when you’re looking for a business community to join.
- Know what you need and what you don't need at this point. There are a lot of business communities out there, and this is key to finding the right one for you. They are not one size fits all.
- Decide what works for you and who you want in your inner circle. You deserve a community that fits your needs and to be surrounded by “Corner 4” people who build you up, give honest feedback, and help you grow to your highest potential. You are not joining a group to fill a slot and fit into their box.
- Understand what you’re getting for your investment. When it comes to unpaid business communities, sometimes you get what you pay for. Likewise, a small business owner may get lost in the crowd among big corporate accounts in the wrong paid community.
- Honor the value of community. We aren't created to do life or business alone. As the owner, you need a safe place to be vulnerable and work through your challenges.
The Inflection Point Hub
If we get back to the definition of community, The Inflection Point Hub checks all the boxes. Our first cohort will be Ohio members so we can gather in person. They’ll all be small, but mighty, business owners positioned for intentional growth, giving them common characteristics and goals. Jeff and I are looking to build so much more than just another business community, however. We’re leveraging our extensive work with small business owners and deep understanding of what makes a peer advisory group most successful to bring our members exactly what they need to grow themselves and their business. I bring mindset and strategy and Jeff brings processes and systems, plus we bring in additional experts who understand what you need to be doing in your business at the stage it is at today. Applications help us build a strong community of small business owners who are ready to take action to learn and grow together.
If you’re looking for a community where you can find support and inspiration, The Inflection Point Hub is for you. Make this your year to have a defining moment, an inflection point, that significantly changes the trajectory and progress of your business. Apply today! Join our cohort starting February 28, 2023!