As a small business proprietor, you probably enjoy moving to the beat of your own drum. But doing everything on your own might not get you very far. Some of the most successful business owners have strong support systems. Regardless of whether that support comes from family or friends, having someone in your corner can give you the confidence you need to make bold moves.
What Is a Support Network?
Your support network can be made up of a lot of different kinds of people and not all of them have to be relatives or close friends. You can rely on people you have professional relationships with as well, including investors, employees, former business partners and suppliers whose own businesses keep yours moving.
Regardless of who you have in your circle, it might be a good idea to have a diverse bunch that you can turn to for advice. Having a variety of outlooks and perspectives to pull from can benefit you and your company.
While it’s important to surround yourself with people who can support you and cheer you on, it doesn’t hurt to have relationships with people who aren’t afraid to criticize you and who won’t hold back.
What Can a Support Network Do for You?
Having a dedicated group of people who support you can be helpful in many different ways. Besides giving you guidance and insight, your supporters can help bring in new customers by telling others about your company and making referrals.
The people in your support network can also act as your sounding board if you have new ideas about ways to run your business. If your marketing campaign for your new business fails to capture the attention of the people who are close to you, it probably won’t interest total strangers or potential customers either.
How Do You Maintain a Support Network?
Here’s the hard part: Getting the support you need often involves swallowing your pride. To build a network you have to accept that you don’t always know what’s best, even when it comes to running your own small business.
If you have people you can lean on, it’s important to be open and honest with them. There’s no need to overshare. But just like at the doctor’s office, the people who support you can’t help you if you won’t admit what’s wrong or own up to bad habits.
When it comes to your employees, it’s important to listen to their concerns. They’re on the front lines of your business and can be the proverbial canaries in the coal mine by diagnosing problems you might not have known existed.
Finally, it’s best to show appreciation whenever someone offers you advice. Whether that involves doing someone a favor or just saying thank you, it’s a good idea to make it clear that you’re grateful for the support you’ve received.