Being an entrepreneur is a beautiful concept, but it can also be very daunting. Running a business is challenging enough, especially when approached with the wrong mindset. One thing that I underestimated in the beginning stages of starting my business was the power of connections. The connections you can and should make during the lifetime of your business are dependent upon your ability and willingness to network. Networking is critical to any business because it allows a business owner to make long-lasting relationships that make it possible for the business to grow. According to Forbes magazine, approximately eight out of 10 businesses fail in the first 12-18 months. In many cases, they fail because they run out of cash. In other cases, a business’ failure can also be attributed to its inability to create long-lasting relationships that can amount to continuous business from existing customers as well as new customers.
Many entrepreneurs start their own business because they prefer not to deal with a lot of people. They don’t particularly like having to answer to anyone. They often believe they can survive in their bubble without having to get involved in the community or interact with other business owners. Unfortunately, the business owners with this mindset are usually the ones whose businesses don’t last. When I started my business, I had this mentality. I didn’t see the need to go to the various functions that were taking place in my community. I didn’t really like being in large crowds of strangers. Luckily, I learned quickly that I needed to change my mindset.
Networking certainly has its place when it comes to the growth and success of a business. However, in many cases, business owners (people) are intimidated by the large crowds that some networking events can bring. My philosophy is less is better. In other words, I recommend that business owners start off small – start attending small networking groups of 20 members or less. Learn how to maneuver within that environment. Once you become comfortable in your networking style, then you can spread your wings and start attending larger events. Before you know it, you will be able to work your way through any network setting, and you will find yourself building relationships that will help you grow a business that can last and thrive in your existing market.
There are many different networking groups that small business owners can participate in like your local Chamber of Commerce, your local Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and Business International (BNI). There are many other groups that you can join, but these are just a few. The point is that you are not alone. As business owners, we all need one another. The power of connection reaches beyond the walls of our offices and into the spheres of our brother and sister business owners. Let us connect and grow together!