Do you need any kind of 'backing' as an entrepreneur? Be it in the form of emotional/financial/legal help? Who are your best friends as an entrepreneur? Other fellow entrepreneurs in different industries?
It's a well-discussed and accepted principle of entrepreneurship that founders benefit from being surrounded by people who can support them on multiple different levels. I recently read an article which outlines the five mentors a founder needs in her arsenal. I can't find the article specifically, but there are many out there that are similar (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225184). The gist of most of them is that you need to surround yourself with advisors that can cover you from all angles - business in general, your business specifically, you personally, your professionally, and from experience as a founder themselves.
This is a hard lesson for starting entrepreneurs because they tend to be either proud, intimidated, or not sure where to start. I only recently learned how powerful reaching out to others can be, and building my own advisory team. I did my first venture all on my own, and a big part of the reason I left was that I had no partners and had not brought anyone in to the fold. I was too proud. While I did relatively well for being on my own, I could have taken that company to a whole other level if I had sought the advice and experience of others who could guide me. To be honest, I think I was afraid to be successful because it meant opening my ideas and my business model to possible criticism when I had invested so much already. Big mistake.
Go and find VCs who are willing to have a chat and introduce you to the fundraising game. Go and find other entrepreneurs who have been there. Go and find other leaders in your industry who know it well and have battle scars from selling or building. Go and find professionals who are like you, and who are not like you. Besides the great experience and feedback they can give you, they all have networks and people love to help and be experts. Ask for as much help as you can get - if you need something, you will definitely not get it if no one knows you need it.
To some extent, we are all alone. I don’t mean that to sound dark or even negative, but it’s important to recognise that we are all on our individual journeys and our passions, our hopes and dreams, our fears and our moments of glory will not necessarily be shared by other people. In more practical terms, being an entrepreneur will often mean working from home, from Starbucks, or from a hotel, so we are likely to also be spending a lot of time in our own company.
Recognising the reality that we are alone, there are things we can do to connect with other people and get the support that we need or want!
One option of course is working with a business partner. This brings with it all kinds of benefits in terms of bouncing ideas off each other, dividing tasks, having fun, sharing your wins and your concerns. It can also complicate matters, of course, as it means you have to take someone else’s opinions into account! An agreement with clear roles and expectations outlined can help to avoid uncomfortable situations there...
Another option is finding a mentor. This is someone who has been there before, who can provide advice and guidance when you need it. Recognising what we don’t know is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of maturity and of wanting to learn. This applies also to specific areas where we know that we lack skills or experience, such as financial, legal or technical topics, and we will save time and make less mistakes if we consult an expert.
And finally I can strongly recommend finding your “tribe”. When we first quit our full-time jobs to launch a business, we are leaving behind an office structure with colleagues, managers and friends who are in that space both physically and mentally. As entrepreneurs, we are in a different space and finding other people in the same kind of situation can provide a support network as well as friendships and fun! You can find your tribe by going to networking events, finding online groups, and also looking into co-working spaces.
(I quit my job two years ago and since then I've been building a life that now involves coaching individuals and groups on living their most fulfilled lives, training organisations on management skills and digital marketing, and mentoring start-ups. My friends are increasingly fellow entrepreneurs who I've met at various events, adventurers who have quit their jobs and are saying yes to doing new things, and people who share my values and beliefs.)
I would start by saying that learning from your own experience is a very long and expansive process, that one cannot always afford. If you can, gather as much valuable people around you and learn from their experience. Also, be sure to have around you everything you might need to build efficently your company. Outsourcing, if done correctly, can greatly improve the quaility of your business. This said, don't forget that you are the focus of your company. Take all the valuable elements from outside but you will ultimatelly be the one taking the final decision
Excellent question. In the end, it all depends on the individual, and how resilient and and resourceful they are. However there are some statistically common features of 'startup entrepreneurs' (as opposed to all the other entrepreneurs that get less media attention, like the owner of your corner deli), which is what I'm guessing you're talking about.
To quote this article on the matter, "the most common shared trait among entrepreneurs is access to financial capital—family money, an inheritance, or a pedigree and connections that allow for access to financial stability. While it seems that entrepreneurs tend to have an admirable penchant for risk, it’s usually that access to money which allows them to take risks."
And to quote the peer reviewed journal publication that that article is citing, "childhood personality measurements and psychological test scores are of almost no help in predicting who runs their own business later in life. It is access to start-up capital that matters."
This discussion about the article could be useful to read as well, it has many valid points: https://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/comments/3e256c
Like I said at the start though, although statistical averages say things, it does in the very end very much depend on the person. Even if you have much harder access to funding, this can be compensated by having a much higher willingness to deal with extreme financial and social hardship (e.g. living out of a car, etc). Investors are primarily investing in you and your passion (and that of any other team members required for your startup to work). The idea is very important too, but they are primarily looking at you and your team as people. If you have pursued your dream through much 'higher than average' hardship, that will make investors much more inclined to want to invest in you (given you have at least a decent idea).
About me: I co-founded an Andreessen Horowitz backed company and advise several other startups. I've also, like basically everyone in the startup space, had other failed attempts at founding.
If you have any further questions on this send me a text message through Clarity.
all the best,
I do believe that support in all areas of one's life is necessary for success. These people give an outside perspective on what you may not be seeing. Master mind groups with fellow entrepreneurs may be a great start for you and also setting up systems that allow for growth in every area of your life is a must. I would love to speak with you on how I have helped people, such as yourself. We started with their wants and progressed to what they needed next to achieve a higher level in life and in business.
I'm feeling excited to see this question and have an opportunity to answer it. I'm a reformed "go-it-aloner" and strongly believe that no entrepreneur can be successful and happy without support from others.
While entrepreneurs usually exhibit a strong tendency toward independence, none of us can possibly know it all and building a support team doesn't mean sacrificing our independence.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing your internal strengths, being mindful of your weaknesses, then finding a team to round out your talents, particularly related to your weaknesses, can be a very powerful approach.
Support takes the form of the "hard" skills, like technology, sales, marketing, finance, legal and admin. I personally find that support in the "softer" areas, like dealing with the emotional roller coaster most entrepreneurs experience, to be at least as important and probably more important that the "hard" support.
In my case, I'm pretty strong operationally and weak in sales and marketing. As a result, I look for partners who are strong in sales and marketing.
My emotional support team includes my wife, therapist and cycling coach. Because I believe that emotional strength needs to be supported by a strong foundation of holistic wellbeing, I'm also fortunate to work with the aforementioned cycling coach, yoga instructor and natural medicine doctor.
Finally, don't underestimate the power of being connected with groups of like-minded people. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely road and being connected to online or in-person communities of people with shared experiences can be a huge help in pushing through when the going gets tough.
Hope that's helpful and always happy to discuss further on a call! Feel free to drop me a line through Clarity or my blog, http://justrollingwith.it/contact and I'd be glad to share my code with you for a free 15 minute call.
Either way, best of luck to you :)
According to me, entrepreneurs do need support but it could be either in terms of knowledge or in terms of money only. As a startup entrepreneur do not have expertise in terms of all the aspects so they do need support of the person in the respective field. As and when time passes they surely become independent and can sustain in the industry for a long run.
Going it alone is the really slow road to success in any venture. Most entrepreneurs don't learn this lesson until they go broke a couple of times. There is something about having empty pockets that makes a person learn how to truly get along with others and listen to the input of good advisers.
In the end, you can make the decisions. But don't go it alone.
Best of Luck,
From the Trenches to the Towers Marketing
I will be glad to help as my time permits.