As a woman business owner, have you ever felt isolated? If you answered yes, you are not alone. Many entrepreneurs feel isolated, especially when they are starting out or entering a new phase of growth in their business. Peer support can be an effective way to combat this feeling and cultivate new ideas for business opportunities in the process.
There are many good reasons to join a peer support group for entrepreneurs. These groups create an environment where individuals can offer and receive advice and guidance. They help business owners solve problems among like-minded professionals who may face similar challenges. They can also help you reach your business goals much faster than you could ever do on your own. Learning from peers should definitely be on your agenda as part of your business strategy. Getting advice from someone that has already been through the process of starting up a business will enable you to be more efficient and save both time and money.
The goal of a peer support group is to meet regularly in professionally facilitated sessions to fuel improvements to one another’s businesses. Here are some common components of successful peer support groups:
- Individuals come together as equals with shared goals of business improvement and a clear idea about how to reach them.
- Open dialogue creates an environment of trust.
- Members feel comfortable discussing challenges in order to work toward solutions.
- Members hold one another accountable.
- There is equal time for everyone.
Peer support groups come in many forms. They may be composed of business owners from similar industry sectors or non-competing sectors, or from businesses of similar size. Here are some ways that you can get the peer support you need to take your business to the next level:
- Join a local industry, business, or networking group. Check out your local chamber of commerce or board of trade. If you are looking for an opportunity to connect specifically with others in your business sector, look for a trade or craft association, which may be local or a branch of a provincial or national organization. You can even take a look on social networks like Facebook for smaller, industry-specific groups.
- Once you choose a local business or networking group to join, be sure to leverage that membership. Attend networking events so you can make connections with other business owners that want to learn and grow together. Look for like-minded entrepreneurs that you can learn from and can help you achieve your goals.
- Take advantage of local workshops and training. You can make connections with others interested in learning more about topics that are relevant to your business while gaining insights from the experts and facilitators presenting.
- Volunteer with not-for-profit and charitable organizations that speak to you and your experiences. You will connect with others in the business community that are passionate about the cause and share the same values.
- Join a mastermind group. A mastermind group is a regular meeting of a small group of business owners in a confidential, non-competitive, and supportive environment. You will have access to an instant support network that will hold you accountable to your business goals and vision. The group is a forum for you to share your challenges and successes and learn from others’ experiences.
It is important for business owners to have a group of peers that support you and offer you objective feedback so you can gain the fresh perspective and strong accountability you need to be successful. If you are currently not reaping the benefits of peer support, you are missing out on the opportunity to take your business to the next level. So take courage, get out there, and find the peer support you need to make your business grow.
Learn more about how NLOWE offer peer support to members by visiting www.nlowe.org/mastermind.