Practical Steps to Creating your Support Network
Building a business as a side-hustle is like immersion therapy for dealing with a whole bunch of emotions and mental roadblocks. It’s part and parcel of the journey to go through tough patches, those times when you feel like you’re peddling at 100mph but not getting anywhere or those times when you feel totally lost and realise you’ve spent a month going down the wrong path.
In fact the whole process of building a business is an emotional rollercoaster. Your emotions can change by the minute. One moment you’ve had an enquiry through about your brand new product that you only launched five minutes ago, the next your website has completely re-arranged itself and you have no idea how to fix it.
Let me tell you, you are not alone on this crazy loop-the-loop rollercoaster ride.
And that’s why we all need support to help us along the way. Support can come in many forms, it can come from people who’ve been there and get it, it can be from people in the same stage of business as you who’s also figuring it out as you go along or it can come from a friend or family member that you trust. What I’ve found works best for me is to create a support network around me that’s comprised of lots of different streams of support, so that I can lean on different support streams at different times. Here are a few ideas to get you started with building your support network.
This is one of the most accessible ways to get started with creating your support network. Search on Facebook for some groups relevant to what you do in your business. If you’re an Etsy seller there are quite a few really active groups on Facebook and for makers The Indie Rollercoaster group is a really lovely supportive community. For more service-based businesses check out the One Girl Band Facebook group. Just search in the Facebook groups section for groups that are relevant to your business, once you’ve joined one it’s likely you’ll start to get recommendations for other similar groups.
Online membership groups and courses
The community element of membership groups and courses will be similar to the above and likely hosted in a Facebook group. The difference is that you’ll be learning about the same topics and working through the same stuff as everyone else in the community. By default this makes it more likely that you’ll find more useful support for what you’re working through at the time and you can learn and develop your skills as well as make new connections. Most online courses come with a closed community on Facebook where you can engage with other people on the course and where regular live chats are hosted, such as in my course Make a Plan > Make it Happen. There are also a few membership groups that are focussed around the community and have a few live chats with experts on various topics. Check out the Independent Girls Collective and The Fearless Beginnings Members Club.
Friends in Business
This is a great way to get one-on-one support in a way that’s beneficial for both of you. I’ve found having friends in business to be one of the best ways of getting support when I’m struggling.. Friends in business will also celebrate your wins with you and remind you of just how amazingly you’re doing with your side-hustle. The best way to find your friends in business is to think about those people who you regularly chat with online, whether that’s commenting on each other’s posts on Instagram or sending each other emails or DMs. Be brave and reach out to them, see if they fancy having a monthly skype chat or see if they’d be keen to meet in person for a coffee.
A family member/ friend or partner
This is something that came up right at the very end of my chat with Natalie Lue on epsidoe 25 of my podcast. Sometimes friends and family really don’t get what you’re going through, and that’s fine, after all building a business is a very unique experience. However sometimes they can see something you’re struggling with a fresh set of eyes and in a more simplistic way. If there’s a trusted friend, family member you think you can talk to about business, share with them what you’re struggling with and see if they can help at all. Speak to your partner about what you’re struggling with and see if they have any simple resolutions.
Now, don’t get me wrong, my families’ and boyfriends’ responses are often wholly unhelpful because they just don’t get what it’s like to build a business but I still think it’s important to share my journey with them and every now and again they’ll see something I’m struggling with in really simplistic terms and have a really simple solution for my problem that I’d overlooked because I was too busy tying myself up in knots. So, don’t write off your family, friends, partner etc because realistically these are the people who care for you the most so it’s worth listening to what they’ve got to say.
In-person workshops and events
Not only can you learn lots and pick up new skills at workshops and business events but you’ll also find that the other people going along are on the same wavelength as you. Just in the fact they’re going to the same event as you pre-qualifies them as great potential connections and it’s. Make sure you swap Instagram handles with everyone you meet at events and keep in touch with them afterwards. Keep your eyes peeled on Instagram and Facebook for events and there might be a venue near you where they host regular events. Check out business conferences (not anywhere near as boring as that sounds, in fact quite the opposite) such as Blogtacular or Creatival.
Work with a coach or mentor
Working with a coach or mentor is at the higher end of the investment scale but it’s a really effective way to get support and accountability that’s not only tailored to you and your business but that’s coming from someone who’s be there and experienced exactly what you’re working through. In my 1:1 mentoring programme for side-hustlers I work with people who are working through exactly where I was a few years ago and ache to escape their 9-5. I use my experience as well as my flair for planning and productivity to tailor my recommendations and suggestions for helping them with their specific challenges and business.
I myself worked with a coach (Kayte Ferris) when I decided to get serious about my business and needed support with the marketing side of things. Not only was it invaluable to get support from someone who’s done what I’d wanted to achieve (leaving employment to work for myself) but knowing I had those regular calls coming up really pushed my to make some big changes in my business in-between our sessions meaning that my business came on in leaps and bounds during our time working together. In fact, I think the higher level of investment I had to put in for coaching with Kate helped me to take it really seriously and get the most out of it, resulting in some massive changes in my business and getting well on the way to leaving my 9-5.
So, what are you waiting for?
Does your support network have any gaps in it that need filling? I hope some of my suggestions above can help to steer you in the direction of creating an even stronger support network.
If you’d like to get some focussed 1:1 support with your business from someone who’s been where you are now and can help you make an action plan that’ll help you get closer to escaping your 9-5, check out my 1:1 mentoring package for side-hustlers, it might be just what you need to level up your side-business.