Being a solopreneur is rewarding, but it’s also a little lonely. Sometimes you need the creative boost that comes from a shared workspace. It’s helpful to have fresh perspectives, advice from long-time entrepreneurs, and the occasional colleague who says, “Don’t worry, you’re on the right track.”
That’s why many solopreneurs seek out a community of like-minded businesspeople. If you’re struggling to find this kind of support, here’s how to create a community.
Incubators and Innovators
Who are your community’s innovators? They’re probably meeting nearby to share inspiration and advice. Look for these groups. They’re often called business incubators or networking events, and they’re great places to find other innovative thinkers.
Traditional networking might not be your thing, but networking events are full of people looking to expand their businesses and build connections in the community. Instead of viewing these events as a way to “network,” think of them as a way to “mastermind” a new kind of solopreneur community.
Seek People Who Are Not Like You
As you build a personal community, don’t just pick and choose people who are too much like you. It’s hard to learn anything new from people who are too similar to your background.
In fact, some experts say the diversity of your professional social group is far more important than its size. People from varied cultural and business backgrounds bring new perspectives that force you to rethink your assumptions – assumptions that could be holding you back from future success.
Remember, most of your customers are probably NOT like you. So one of your goals should be to meet more people like your customers. Lauren Rivera, a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, puts it this way: If you’re an extrovert, you’ll have a hard time making stuff for introverts, and vice versa.
Coworking spaces, which are popping up all over the world, provide a great mix of solo support and social opportunity. They’re an ideal place to start building your community, because they’re already communities: 1.2 million people worldwide have tried them, and each coworking location has an average of 129 members.
The typical coworking community hosts people with a wide variety of backgrounds: new solopreneurs, successful CEOs, consultants, motivational speakers, designers, artists, writers, and many others. Some are local, and some are from around the country and world. All are open to being part of a community, just like you.
Explore Shared Values
Good solopreneur community builders look for wide diversity within a shared set of values. Your personal values may differ quite a bit, but your business values should align fairly well. According to experts, the most common set of values among solopreneurs is:
-Value for experiences over material things
-Desire for professional freedom
-Pride in personal accomplishment
-Preference for relationships over power
-Investment in themselves as a primary resource
-Value for expertise in others
-Dislike for things that create waste and harm the planet
-A buy-local mentality with a preference for individuality
Your community members might not have all these qualities, but if they have at least a few, you’ll likely find beneficial ways to connect with them.
Don’t Let Your Community Languish
A community is like an ecosystem, so don’t forget to nurture it after you build it. Stay in frequent contact with your new solopreneur pals. Reach out with socializing opportunities and simple notes to say hello. Encourage each person to invite others to the group, which fosters further diversity and long-lasting support.
Click here to set up a tour of Victory Workspace, a successful coworking community that welcomes solopreneurs in the Danville and Walnut Creek areas.