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9 Tips for Building Your Support Network

Pulling a good network together takes effort, sincerity and time. - Alan Collins
When I launched my business in 2002, I was very excited to have something that was “all mine.” Who wouldn’t be? However, my desire for independence almost prevented me from being successful!

I learned that when you run your own business, you need to grow a network of colleagues, service providers and others who can help you in various ways. But it’s also wise to build a more casual support network for knowledge, encouragement, advice and motivation.

1. Understand where you need help.

First of all, it’s important to know your own areas of weakness and things you need to work on, and to recognize the warning signs that your confidence or motivation is starting to flag.

2. Talk to family and friends.

Family and friends can be a great source of support, even when they have nothing to do with your business. In fact, they can be a great help because they’re not involved. They know you, not your business. Identify those who are most helpful to you in your regular life and enlist their support.

3. Seek out mentors.

A mentor is someone who has more experience than you have at what you do. Because they’ve gone further down the road you’re on and know what’s ahead, a mentor can help to steer you on this path when you get stuck. They can identify your weaknesses or trouble spots and help you overcome them.

4. Hire a coach or consultant.

Like a mentor, a coach or consultant can help you by lending you their experience and skill, but because you pay for their services, they usually offer more direct help than mentors do. Each coach has a different approach, so get recommendations from colleagues and do a trial session before signing up for anything long term.

5. Find good advice.

Identify sources of good advice on the internet. Seek out a website with content that helps or encourages entrepreneurs . Look for a forum or social media group that’s particularly supportive of its members and get involved.

You can never have too much support along the journey of running your own business.Click To Tweet

6. Look for motivation and inspiration.

Try to identify what motivates or inspires you or pushes you to keep working, even when things get tough. Post these concepts in words and/or pictures on a vision board, and make a point of referring to it when your motivation is waning.

7. Get good tech support.

A much more tangible area where you need support is on the technological side of things. It’s good to have a friend or associate who is particularly tech savvy and can help you out with minor changes to your website and other tasks that may be challenging for you.

8. Nurture your relationship with your biggest fans.

Some of your best support will come from your fans, followers and customers. When you have an especially good relationship with a particular reader or client, nurture this relationship and garner support from it. These individuals will be a great help when you wonder whether your efforts to deliver value are paying off.

9. Be prepared.

Finally, identify some sources of support just in case your business blows up and you have to start all over again. It’s something we all hope won’t happen, but if you’re prepared and it does, it’ll be much easier to rebuild. Identify people in your network who can help you rebuild your business in this type of scenario. You could even keep a file of their emails separate from everyone else’s.

What has been the greatest source of support in your business?

 

A former professional organizer, I’m now a Website Design and Care Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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20 Comments

  1. Seana Turner on July 22, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    What a wonderful list, and so true Janet! Everyone who builds a business needs to develop a network of supporters, mentors, tools, and cheerleaders. Another place I’ve found support is my professional association, especially the local chapter where I’ve been lots of terrific people who have helped and challenged me!

    • Janet Barclay on July 22, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Seana, thank you so much for being one of my cheerleaders!

  2. Sarah Soboleski on July 22, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    I enjoyed reading this, Janet! I like how you mentioned family and friends as you definitely need folks to ground you on a personal level. And I second the piece about good tech support. I just met with my computer whiz today; he’s invaluable to me!

    • Janet Barclay on July 23, 2015 at 7:20 am

      I’m truly blessed, because my son is an IT professional. I was all set to go out and buy a new computer last month until he used his magic touch on my old one (which isn’t old at all – I bought it last year).

  3. Regina Sanchez on July 23, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Great list Janet! Sometimes as a business owner it’s so hard to get it all done. We wear so many hats. But reaching out can be hard also. So this reminder on some levels validates that it’s ok that we can’t do it all and it’s ok to reach out. As an example, my website needed changing and WordPress makes it “somewhat” user friendly. But that meant I needed to take the time to learn things about WordPress that I didn’t know so that would have taken time away from doing what I do know. Hence, I hired you. It really is about putting your skills where they can best be utilized and reaching out to others whose skills cover what we don’t have. Thanks!

    • Janet Barclay on July 23, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Absolutely! I know I’m not the only person who struggled more than necessary because I thought I had to do it all. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding someone who can answer a question (see my post Learning from Others’ Experience but sometimes we have to bite the bullet and just pay someone. As you say, why spend time and energy learning something that’s not related to your core business?

  4. Ellen Delap on July 23, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Great list Janet! I love working in collaboration with others and have always sought out different tools and techniques for team work. You have mentioned many that support our professional and personal lives in so many different ways. Thanks for acknowledging these.

    • Janet Barclay on July 23, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      Is there any type of support you’ve found especially helpful, Ellen?

  5. Sabrina Q. on July 23, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing this great post. I am glad you mentioned get inspiration. Especially at the beginning, I had a lot of writer’s block and by inspiring myself it helped me create ideas and figure out a focus for my business.

    • Janet Barclay on July 24, 2015 at 6:46 am

      Very interesting that you mention focus. That is my “one word” for this year, and it’s proven to be much more important and much more meaningful than I’d originally thought!

  6. Andi Willis on July 25, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Thanks for the reminders, Janet! I tend to be a lone wolf and want to do everything myself so it is something I continually try to work on. I have had 3 different coaches over the past 5 1/2 years and loved working with each of them. They have helped me see things in a new light and breathe new life into my business. Worth every penny!

    • Janet Barclay on July 25, 2015 at 10:27 am

      I’ve participated in several coaching groups over the years, and worked one-on-one with a coach when I decided to make my part-time business my full-time job, and it’s amazing what a difference it can make. My accountability partner is also great for bouncing off ideas and staying on track with my goals and plans.

  7. Clare Kumar on July 25, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Given the increasing awareness of depression and entrepreneurship, I think including emotional support is also critical to long term success.

    Helpful post, Janet. As always.

    • Janet Barclay on July 26, 2015 at 6:33 am

      Excellent point, Clare! And I can certainly see how the pressure of doing it all could lead to depression.

  8. Hazel Thornton on July 25, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I’m terrible at asking for help. Really glad I reached out to you, Janet, when I did!

    • Janet Barclay on July 26, 2015 at 6:43 am

      I’m glad you did too, Hazel! I’m very happy to have you as a client, supporter, and friend.

  9. Kim on July 27, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Thanks Janet, A great list and I too am not someone to ask for help. I am a great listener and love helping others (which seems to be a theme here) I just signed up for some help with my blog from Janet as well. Excited!!!

    • Janet Barclay on July 27, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      In my experience, this is something many (if not most) organizers struggle with. Thank you for biting the bullet and taking a chance on me!

  10. Linda Samuels on July 31, 2019 at 11:33 am

    You are the master at building a community of supporters. Not only do they support you and your work, but you’ve helped us to support one another. I’m forever grateful.

    • Janet Barclay on July 31, 2019 at 1:28 pm

      Aww, thank you so much, Linda! I’m equally grateful for all the support you’ve been providing me for many years now.

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