There’s an African proverb that says “It takes a village to raise a child”. What does it take for an entrepreneur or small business owner to successfully raise an idea into a profitable business? In a previous post, “How Do Entrepreneurs and Sole Proprietors Juggle All Those Balls?”, I wrote about dealing with all of the different aspects of a business including technology, marketing, sales and finance – on top of your core business. Ideally, you have a budget and can hire professionals. But what if you’re an “accidental entrepreneur” (Thanks to Jeannette Paladino for coining that term.) and you find yourself suddenly out of work . . . or maybe you’re looking for a way to earn extra income but you don’t have money to invest? What if you’re just testing the waters to see if there’s an interest in a product that you make or you want to see if you can make money through affiliate programs or Google AdSense advertising? How can you find people who are willing to help you when you can’t afford to pay them?
Well, for starters, what sort of help are you looking for? Do you have specific areas where you need help? There are so many online resources to tap into. No matter what you’re looking for, you should be able to do an online search and come up with an answer or at least a forum that you can post your question to. There are lots of eBooks and people who offer their services for reasonable fees. Are you looking for a support system?
Coming from a fairly large organization with a board of directors, volunteers and a staff of peers who I could turn to, I miss the collaboration, ideas and advice that are a normal part of working in an organization. (My cats tend to not contribute well when I try to brainstorm.) So, personally, I look for like-minded people. I read blogs and comment. I reply to comments here. I’m looking for meaningful conversations and long-term relationships that will be beneficial to both of us. And I’m finding them.
Part of the inspiration for this post came from Kathy who recently posted the article “Does That Blogger Know That You Like Them?” When I read her article, I found myself relating to her. As I scrolled through and read the comments, I recognized some of the faces as other people who I follow. I started to realize that a lot of these people are becoming my peers – my support system and I’m happy for that.
How can you find an online-support system?
- Join a couple of social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Follow a few blogs and join in the conversation.
- Look for posts, tweets and comments that make you think or teach you something new.
- Contribute. Offer something of value. Share experiences (both good and bad) that we all can learn from.
I’d love to hear about your online experiences. What sort of friendships and relationships (business that is) have you found online? Are there any groups or sites that work well for you? I’ve recently started participating in the Wild Web Women group on LinkedIn and have already made some solid connections. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Let’s get connected and see if we can help each other succeed!