It Takes a Village to Grow a Business

If you’re a solopreneur like I am, you undoubtedly understand that all the weight of your business–all the decisions, all the management, all the work–falls on your shoulders. Even entrepreneurs who have fellow staff members can feel the same pressure.

A business owner never stops being a business owner, and his or her mind never shuts off. Not at night. Not on the weekends.

It’s no wonder so many of us often feel drained or burned out. We may even on occasion doubt our decision to start a business in the first place.

If you’re experiencing this or have before (I certainly have), I encourage you to check out Clay Mathile and Joni Fedders’ recent article. I especially like the third point they make, that we need to stop clinging to old beliefs and rules. “Whatever these rules are,” Mathile and Fedders state, “many of them go unspoken and many of them are outdated. This misalignment naturally produces a sense of guilt—feeling like we should be abiding by old rules but are living by different (often subconscious) ones instead.”

Perhaps one of the most outdated beliefs that we should let go of is the idea that we have to go it alone. Yes, we may have come up with our business’s idea on our own, and we may literally be the only one available who can do what must be done, but growing our business doesn’t have to be our sole responsibility.

In a recent article, Isa Watson explains how surrounding ourselves with a network is essential to the success of any business. “Relationships matter,” Watson states. “This isn’t to say that things like development and positioning aren’t important when building a business. They are. But who you know–and who knows you–is the ultimate validation in the startup world.”

As in most things, who you know (and who knows you) can determine whether you’ll make a lasting impression or will remain in obscurity forever.

Yet, despite the notion that we must go to great lengths to network with as many people as we can (perhaps another outdated rule), not every person we meet should be in our network. We must be mindful of whom we bring into the fold.

Watson divides the members of a network into three categories: advocates, helpers, and lurkers. All three groups serve a purpose, but they are not all equal. “[Focus] your attention on the segments of your network that most deserve it,” Watson notes. Because advocates are the most invested in your business–either personally or financially–they deserve the most time and attention. Conversely, lurkers, those who follow you but never actually intend to support you, deserve the least time and attention.

As you consider your business ventures over the course of the next few months, let go of the belief that you are all alone. Then, take stock of who is in your network. Consider nurturing the relationships you have with the advocates and helpers who will help you grow your business. And those lurkers? Well, they can take care of themselves.

When we already feel the weight of managing all the things, we must spend our time and energy where it counts. It takes a village to grow a business, and it’s time we decide who in our village deserves to stay.

Katie Signature001


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