Dale left a comment on my post yesterday that reminded me how tough it is to find support as a young entrepreneur. No matter where you live or what you do, the majority of people around you don’t run a business. Most of them have never even considered it. That makes it hard for them to relate to you and to support what you’re doing, even if they want to. It took a while, but I have what I feel is an A+ support group of people. Here’s where I’d look if I was just getting started:
- Anyone you know who runs a business – it doesn’t have to be someone young, it doesn’t even have to be someone you know that great. It could be a relative or a friends parent, or just someone who runs the gym you go to that you make small talk with. Whoever it its, offer to buy them lunch or a beer or a cup of coffee and just shoot the shit with them. Most business owners love talking about business to anyone who is interested, probably because most people aren’t. As great as the web is for support, you need some people you can meet with face to face. I have a handful of local entrepreneurs that I regularly stay in touch with, and it helps me immensely to be able to bounce ideas off of them or just vent about something that’s frustrating. Plus, local relationships are great for referrals to lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, etc.
- Local groups – the best place to find legit YE groups is in college. Almost every college I know of has a “young business owners” group or something similar. If they have an incubator, they may offer even more than just a group. Even if you aren’t in school anymore, I’d probably look to your local college and ask if you could volunteer in some capacity just to get around these types of people. Outside of academia, I’d tread with caution – most of the “young professional” meetings I’ve been to are just groups of young insurance agents desperate to get your business card so they can solicit you.
- Social networks – the Brazen Careerist, Factor77, and YoungEntrepreneur.com all have supportive networks of other young professionals who run businesses. I’ve met a handful of other YE’s this way, many of which I’ve eventually hung out with offline and developed great relationships with.
- Bloggers – I can only speak for myself, but I’m more than happy to get into an email exchange with anyone genuinely looking to start a business. If you’re looking for someone to bounce ideas off of or just someone to ask questions to because you don’t know anywhere else to turn, I’ll be happy to do my best to help. All of the guys I mentioned that were my favorite YE bloggers are very much the same way, which is how I’ve developed such good relationships with all of them.
- Start your own blog – you’d be amazed at how many great people I’ve met because they stumbled upon my blog because they were randomly Googling something I wrote about a few years back. Plus, for me at least, writing your ideas is theraputic and the process of getting your ideas out there makes you feel less alone…even if you don’t have a lot of readers at first.
Do you guys have any other suggestions?