When I was home in Louisville this week, one of my friends asked me to go to a support group with him. He has faced numerous challenges over the past few years and he uses “group” to help him keep his bearings straight. That day, I was stressed and annoyed because I was doing my taxes, but I decided not to back out on him as I knew it meant a lot for me to be there.
When I arrived to the room, I was greeted by this humongous circle of people. For me, it was a mix between something out of a kindergarten P.E. class and a prison flick at the same time. I was tempted to ask “What you in for?” to numerous people, but resisted the urge. The session started with everyone giving their weekly check in report. Hearing the challenges that people were facing and also their successes for the week was the lens that put my problems in focus. Many people in the group lost their jobs and had a hard time fighting urge to relapse into their old habits. It was inspiring to see how the group banded together to give support to a group member who was having a difficult time.
There are two main things that I took away from the support group session:
It is necessary for entrepreneurs to have strong support groups to cheer them along.
Problems are relative. The biggest problems in my life pale in comparison to the problems that some people are facing in the world.
I love the freedom that entrepreneurship provides, but it can also be a recipe to lose your mind. The risk that one takes as they step out on their own with no corporate support can be a scary and daunting task. I didn’t recognize it at first, but I have a small support group of entrepreneurs down here in Atlanta. We get together monthly to bounce ideas off of each other and complain about the latest problem that we are having in our companies. These startup therapy sessions always make me feel rejuvenated and ready to continue down this crazy path.
As entrepreneurs, we can become wrapped up in our own little bubble of a world. Every problem can seem like the Armageddon that is going to destroy everything that you built. The truth is that the problem that you are currently facing probably isn’t Armageddon, so quit being so darn dramatic! I fall into this trap sometimes and it makes me less productive/extremely nervous. What snaps me out of that mindset is thinking about many of the people that I’ve met during my world travels. While I’m concerned about paying a tax bill, they are concerned about how they are going to eat for the day. Talk about problems!
It’s one thing to say that you need to be in a support group, but it is another thing to try and find them. Here are three ways that I have found support groups for entrepreneurs.
Meetup.com – Meetup is a website that helps people organize in person meetings via the internet. Currently, they have over 720 entrepreneurship groups worldwide. Check out the entrepreneurship meetup group to find the closest one near you.
Local Incubators, Websites, and Networking Groups – Become involved with your local incubators. Many cities are pushing entrepreneurship as a centerpiece for city growth. Find out which organizations are supporting entrepreneurship in your area. Also, just hanging around websites like Mixergy and The Young Entrepreneur Council is an awesome way to become connected and motivated.
Current Network – The support group that I am currently involved in is comprised of other entrepreneurs that were already in my network. Many people are looking to connect, so all you have to do is just ask in most cases.
Don’t view support groups as something that you join after you start having major problems in your life. They are a necessary tool for growth for every entrepreneur. Hi. My name is Lawrence and I am proud to be an entrepreneur!