For some reason, a lot of entrepreneurs just love the idea of being "self-made."
We love getting swept up in the romance of being the kind of people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps and hustle their way to the top, with no help from anyone else. It's an appealing idea, but it's a myth. Completely false.
When you take a look back at history, you'll find that the most influential people in the world never got there alone. Instead they were part of a community of friends, peers, and mentors who helped push them to become the people they were destined to be.
As an entrepreneur, you need to come to terms with the fact that we all need support, and surround yourself with a community of other entrepreneurs. No matter how talented you may be, you're not going to get very far without learning how to leverage the power of community.
Here are 5 different ways you can start utilizing the power of community.
One of, if not the biggest reason you'd want to join an entrepreneurship community is the chance to learn from one another.
Joining a community of like-minded people means that you have an increased chance of meeting someone who's willing to take you under their wing and mentor you. Having a strong mentor who's willing to guide you and give you the benefit of their experience means that you can avoid making costly mistakes that could potentially derail your startup and your career. In fact, it's been proven that having a strong mentor can be the key difference between a failed and a successful entrepreneur.
"It's always good to have a helping hand at the start. No matter how incredibly smart you think you are, or how brilliant, disruptive or plain off-the-wall, your new concept might be, every start-up team needs at least one good mentor." - Richard Branson, founder and CEO of Virgin.
By immersing yourself in a community, you also give yourself a chance to learn from the overall group, mining the wisdom of several people and helping each other out along the way. You can also create a mastermind group of trusted peers who give each other the advice and feedback every entrepreneur needs, especially those just starting their journeys.
Joining any community means that you have a chance to improve your professional and personal network.
In Porter Gale's book Your Network is your Net Worth, she explains how growing your network means you increase your chances of encountering positive opportunities through the relationships you develop. That could mean an opportunity to further your career, or meeting someone who is able to provide you with the help you need. You never know who you'll meet when you join a community, and how they can help you and vice versa.
When you integrate into a community, you're giving yourself the opportunity to connect with influencers and to raise your own profile. One of the most important things about networking is that you can get your name known by people who have the power to open doors for you. And ideally, you can return the favor for others.
Getting to know influencers who are willing to vouch for you can be all the social proof you need to raise your profile as an entrepreneur. Their recommendations can give you the credibility you need to solidify your own position as an influencer. Even better, having a whole group of entrepreneurs willing to vouch for you significantly raises your profile to other groups, such as potential investors.
One of the biggest threats to an entrepreneur's success is becoming isolated and losing their imagination. A fast way to failure in the startup world is never learning how to evolve and adapt, something that is very difficult to learn on your own. There are countless stories of people who thrive early on, but isolate themselves from others and stagnate creatively as a result.
Communities, by their very nature, contain a diversity of opinion, ideas, and knowledge that you would never encounter alone. Just being in proximity of such a whirlwind of ideas means that you're constantly challenging yourself to think creatively and constantly reconsider what you know.
You might even encounter a solution to a problem that you would have never thought of by yourself.
You don't need to look any further in history than the "Vagabonds" for the perfect example of amazing people inspiring each other. The group consisted of notable industrialists like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone, who would often go on annual camping trips together. Everyone from US presidents to leading scientists would join them on these trips.
A large part of why these influential figures in history achieved all of the great things they did was because of their friendships with one another, and the rich exchange of ideas they cultivated. There are many comparable examples, from the French salons of the enlightenment to the Peripatetic gatherings of ancient Greek philosophers.
No matter how talented you may be, or how smart you are, it is literally impossible to know and do everything by yourself.
It's the reason why founding teams are more likely to succeed than startups with solo founders. The reason is that it's impossible to do everything by yourself. There will just be certain areas or skills that you don't have, or aren't good enough in, that will hold you back from achieving your goals.
In order to combat this you're going to need to find people who have the expertise and skills in the areas that you lack. This is where leveraging the power of community comes in.
The most straightforward way to fill in your gaps of knowledge is to hire someone to do it for you. But this can be drain on your time, energy, and money.
On the other hand, when you make the effort to invest time and energy into building relationships within your community, you'll be surprised just how many of your peers are willing to help you with whatever problem you've encountered.
Who knows, you might even find your next business partner or cofounder within your community.
Having a community to rely upon means that you're surrounded by people who know exactly what it is you're going through.
Entrepreneurship is said to be a lonely journey, and it often can be. It can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders when you have no one in your life to share your experiences with. It can feel isolating and, more often than not, most entrepreneurs give up because they just don't have the motivation to keep going.
Let's be honest here, startup founders are a bit of a weird bunch. It can be hard to connect with other people because they're unable to see the way you view the world, or comprehend why you would be so passionate about something that it borders on obsession.
What a community of like-minded people provides, more than anything else, is a support network of people who are going through the exact same journey as you.
Even if they're at different stages of the journey, they'll understand what it is you're going through and be able to give you the support you need to keep going.
Being an entrepreneur is more than just having the business sense to get a startup up and running. It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy, and having someone, let alone a whole group of people, to talk to about your journey can be all you need to keep plowing ahead.