Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding but solitary pursuit. As a leader you may not have many peers in your day-to-day life — even a friend serving as, say, a corporate executive won’t know what it’s like to be responsible for their own company and employees. If you’ve felt this way, you’re not alone. 45 percent of entrepreneurs report feelings of stress,1 especially at the start of their business, which is why many business owners join peer networks. Not only are peer networks a great way to grow your own social network, but they’re also an invaluable tool to find mentorship and a community of business owners who can offer advice as you continue to navigate your own business. Below you’ll find a few reasons to consider joining a peer network of your own:
1. MENTORS CAN HELP GROW YOUR BUSINESS — AND CONFIDENCE
According to a study conducted by UPS,2 70 percent of small business owners that receive mentoring survive for five years or more. Often peer networks for entrepreneurs include some form of mentorship, allowing entrepreneurs who have been through business challenges to impart their own advice and experience. And if you’re an established business owner with advice to share, connecting with a mentee can be another great way to support your local business community.
2. EVERYONE WINS WITH SKILL SHARING
Finding a community of peers can strengthen your own skills and help you recognize areas where you can continue to grow. Networks are a great way to share skills,3 whether you join an industry-specific group or a network of entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. Finding people like you with complementary skill sets is a great way to strengthen your own offering with peers you can rely on for their own expertise.
3. PEERS HELP YOU TACKLE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES
When you’re running your own business, you may feel isolated from your employees when it comes to making tough leadership decisions like team reorganization, budget cuts and larger cultural shifts. Having a group of peers to use as a sounding board can give you the space you need to talk through your own doubts, fears and frustrations, and as mentioned above, will likely come with a side of advice from people who’ve been in your shoes before.
4. NETWORKING, WITH BENEFITS
Entrepreneur networks often include exclusive benefits4 for their members, from mentorship programs and business support services to travel discounts and annual conferences. These resources are designed to support growth within the community and strengthen the network as a whole, so find a group that offers additional benefits that align with your goals.
5. DIY NETWORKS FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR OFFICE
For business owners who want a more grassroots network, services like Slack can serve as a platform for a variety of community channels for professionals5 in all industries. These communities allow peers to connect remotely, still offering support and connections without the in-person meetings (unless you set them up on your own). Meetup.com is also known for helping people from all walks of life connect and engage, and includes hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurial meetups across the world. Finding one in your local area can be a great way to start expanding your own network.
Whether you’re ready to join an international entrepreneur group, or you’d like to start at a local coffee shop with a few local business owners, finding connections can help strengthen your business and help you achieve (and perhaps even hone) your goals.
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