Elizabeth Perry, co-founder of White Bull Summits, looks at why every tech entrepreneur needs a support network.
Building a business isn’t easy. It can be exhilarating of course, but it can also be scary, lonely and leave you feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.
Entrepreneurship is much easier when you have the support from professionals who truly understand the journey you’re on. We’re not talking about colleagues – yes, they play a key role in your business, but would you really want to have a painfully honest conversation about issues with fundraising or cash flow with someone who is relying on you to pay their mortgage? No. This is where a line into fellow entrepreneurs who have gone through or are going through similar situations can be invaluable.
The term ‘tribe’ was coined in Silicon Valley – land of the tech entrepreneur – to describe a group of like minded people that band together to support each other through the trials and tribulations of building a successful business.
It encourages founders to build a community that not only provides a range of complementary skill sets, but also an immense amount of emotional support. Mostly born out of shared experiences, the ‘tribe’ mostly focuses on building long-term relationships and has proven to be a very powerful concept. Here’s why:
1. Circle of influence
The concept of a tribe is built on the ‘pay it forward’ ethos, i.e. telling people you know about the great work your fellow tribe members are doing, without any expectation of a reward.
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Your tribe is there to support your growth by making strategic introductions that will affect the trajectory of your business, and vice versa.
If you build the right tribe, you open yourself up to a range of influential entrepreneurs and investors that can help put you and your company on the map.
Just make sure you’re returning the favour!
The people in your tribe will be one of the most powerful mirrors in your professional life, reflecting back things you simply can’t see, and providing you with insights that your circle of friends, family or colleagues can’t give.
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Their successes will also help inspire you to go where you want to go, whether that’s by creating a healthy source of competition, or simply by doing great things that you can adapt to drive your own success.
3. Source of support
Being an entrepreneur can often be a very isolating feeling, so it is important to have trusted contacts in a similar position to call on when you need them.
This shouldn’t just be limited to work questions; tribes can often be a great source of personal support too, especially when times get tough.
When you experience rejection, when you’re feeling stressed, sad or angry, be sure to share these feelings with your tribe to help power you through these emotions.
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Chances are, they’ve been in the same position too and they’ll know exactly what to say.
4. Dealing with failure
A successful career is like a rollercoaster with many ups and downs. It might often be a dirty word this side of the Atlantic, but failure is a core part of any business.
It can be hard to see situations clearly enough to learn from them when you’re in the driving seat though. Your tribe can help put things into perspective, figure out where it went wrong and what you can take from the experience to iterate and improve in the future.
When you fail at something – say your business doesn’t scale to the level you expected, new ideas start to fall flat, or you lose a vital person in your team – you can pull from the experiences in your tribe to help you figure out why it happened, and use those lessons to successfully work towards your goals in the future.
When you’re growing a business, it can often be difficult to recognise all the great things you’ve done on the way to a certain goal.
It’s easier to see those small victories when looking from the outside in. A tribe will help you pay attention to and celebrate your achievements – that deal you’ve been working on for six months that finally came off, that key hire you secured (who you just happened to steal for a huge company that shall not be named).
Recognising your successes, big and small, will help drive the momentum you need to keep going, even when you have a bad day.
Being part of a tribe is an entrepreneur’s ‘in’ to a range connections and skillsets that will not only accelerate personal and business growth, but also make the journey more fun along the way.
But above all, building lasting long-term relationships with core members of that tribe, and being a part of something deeper and more personal can provide invaluable support through the successes and failures of business life.