Okay let’s unpack that whole “secrets of success” thing real quick.
I don’t know if I really believe in it to tell you the truth. Because usually it just amounts to working hard and working smart. 😉
But if I were to make a list of things that have helped me to get this far, building a strong support network would definitely be near — if not at — the top!
Why? Well, it’s just easier to do life (or in our case business) together, rather than alone. It’s kinda that simple.
And let’s face it, people further along the path than us can:
- Teach us what they’ve learned
- Provide shortcuts
- And potentially introduce us to clients or new business partners
(The last of these being one of my very favorite things to do!)
There are a few ways that you can go about building a strong support network — from recruiting a friend or family member or two, to joining private Facebook groups and forums, to starting a mastermind group or working with a coach early on — and they each have their benefits.
Today I want to focus on three effective ways for starting and growing your own support network. So let’s dive in!
1. Recruiting Supportive Friends
There have been a lot of experiences that have fed into this whole writing journey/online business of mine.
One of the earliest has to be a community education class that Wade and I took probably seven years ago (damn, time goes by fast!). There were just four of us in this fiction writing class – Wade and I and two sisters, Shannon and Lisa.
The class was just a few weeks long, but by the end of it the three of us gals decided to start a little writing book club. We met together for maybe six months and then Lisa’s life got busier and she pushed our group to the back burner.
Shannon and I continued to meet or at least talk and became great friends. We’ve seen each other through five pregnancies between us and thankfully five births and healthy babies. She already had one child before we met and gave me the low down on all things infants (including breastfeeding), which was oh so helpful! Especially since none of my other friends were yet having babies.
But I digress… the point of me sharing this story is that without the class (and especially my new friendship), I don’t know if I would have continued to pursue my goal of writing. Shannon and I had this one off, one on type of relationship that looking back was pretty funny. I.e I would be all gung-ho cranking out my first draft of a new novel and she’d be on a writing break. Or vice versa.
The bottom line though is that one of us was usually inspired, which would eventually entice the other one to get back at it.
Fast forward these seven years and I’m happy to say we’re both succeeding. Obviously, I’ve completely changed careers and write online for a living. And Shannon’s first book, Bake My Day <– affiliate link is available as of TODAY (and I didn’t even plan that – look at that coincidence!).
I’m SO proud of her!
Moral of the story: Having IRL (in real life) friends chasing similar goals ROCKS!
2. Join a Mastermind Group
What’s a mastermind group, you ask?
It’s basically a group of like-minded individuals that regularly meet virtually (or in person) to brainstorm, share goals and challenges, and keep each other accountable to growing their respective businesses. Business types can be totally different per group member and I’ve found it’s actually most helpful when everyone’s working in a different industry.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been a part of a few different mastermind groups. Currently I’m involved in two.
One is with three other folks that I met at the pre-conference workshop for Converted15 (put on by LeadPages) last year. I’m happy to say we’re a year in and stronger than ever. In fact, we really gel and have a great handle on each other’s businesses.
As I mentioned above, we’re all in online business, but not in the same industry (i.e. they’re not freelance writers, but all of us write). Anthony is a coach and works in the relationship/self-improvement space helping guys that have recently gone through a big break-up or divorce get back on their feet and ready to put themselves out there again. Tom is in the career space and is doing great work helping people to love their careers more or make a change. And Jackie is in the Christian meditation space, helping others to live their best lives.
The second group I’m an active participant of is the Mamapreneur Mastermind that my girl Ariel Rule and I started at the end of 2015. There is a core group of about 30 ladies that I’ve gotten to know pretty well over the last year. Ariel and I started the group because we couldn’t find something similar online (mom entrepreneurs trying to do big things in online business while still putting family first). So we made one.
We’re gearing up to open the doors again soon (the last time we did so was this past March) and have completely overhauled our mode of operation.
Here’s what it’s going to look like:
- We’ll be opening the doors for 50 ladies (you don’t have to be a parent, but you do have to be female) to join us.
- We’ll divide those 50 gals into 10 smaller groups of five and pair them with a facilitator (who participated in the mastermind this past year) based on availability.
- The small groups will meet once every two weeks (with a kickoff “get to know you meeting” in December) starting in January.
- Once a month Ariel or I will do a live teaching (via Facebook live, so if you can’t make it in person, you can easily catch the replay) going deep on a topic of online business meant to help you grow (i.e. branding or email list building). These topics will build on each other over the course of the year.
- There will still be a private Facebook group for all members to interact – to share wins/struggles, ask questions/advice and get to know other members outside their core group.
- And we also have some other surprises up our sleeves. 😉
Interested? You should join us on our upcoming (and free) webinar focused on goal setting for 2017. We’ll take an hour to dive into how we set goals and give you a framework for setting your own. And at the end we’ll give you next steps on applying to be one of the 50 ladies we accept into the next Mamapreneur Mastermind cohort. (No worries if you just want to come for the free info.)
Regardless, the general idea of a mastermind group is that by meeting regularly with a group of people that have similar goals to you and are ready to hustle, you’ll be encouraged to get more done than you would on your own. You have people that are counting on you, that you have to report to and that want you to succeed. It’s a little like surrounding yourself with supportive friends, but taken to the next level!
Moral of the story: Mastermind groups will help you to get shit done!
3. Find a Coach or Mentor
I’ve worked with some sort of coach or mentor from the very beginning.
The focus has changed some over time, but I think it’s one of the smartest things I did. My first coach was Carrie Smith from Careful Cents, one of the most down-to-earth women I know. She’s a real gem I’m telling you and I’m proud to call her a friend!
Since then, I’ve worked with a few people in the marketing space that have helped me to implement things like my affiliate program, successful product launches and more. I just wrapped up a three month engagement with a branding specialist. And recently I’ve been working with LeadPages on all of my sales funnel stuff.
My current “coach” (besides the work I’m doing w/LP) is Lisa Kimrey. Lisa has a background as a project manager and is a fellow believer. Our coaching relationship is different than anything I’ve experienced in the past. It’s part accountability, part spirituality and part counseling. Lisa’s the person in my life right now that “gets me.” I can go to her with anything on my mind (or more importantly my heart) and spill the beans. I can be vulnerable and I know that she has my best interests at heart.
So even though Lisa’s not a traditional coach, she offers something I need right now. She’s able to help me live out my faith IN my business. And they’re very much inseparable. Thanks Lisa!
The brass tax of the situation is that working with a coach or mentor (basically someone further along the path than you) will help you expedite your learning curve and your success.
Because you need someone that has a vested interest in YOUR business, that has an unbiased opinion and that is there to help you succeed. Can you do that via the above methods? Sure.
And I have. I have also just paired it with 1:1 support. Because I need it! I’m a fragile little snowflake. 😉 And a motivated one!
Coaching isn’t for everyone (and if it’s something you’re paying for, it should ideally be done from the profits of your business), but having a support system is huge.
Moral of the story: Business coaching is necessary for me and enables me to stay sane and do more in less time.
Surrounding yourself with a strong support network is key in starting/growing a successful business – online or not.
We just need people. People that will cheer us on, pick us up when we fall and champion our work. Start yours today by recruiting supportive friends and family, joining a mastermind group or hiring a coach or mentor.
Trust me, having a support network will help you to go further than you would on your own.
Who’s in your current support network? Share with us in the comments!