Four years ago, I chose to start my own business out of a combination of both necessity and opportunity. The majority of my working life I had been part of a large organization (YWCA, Parliament Hill, Western University) so I had always been surrounded by a tribe of like-minded people who I could lean on for support or collaborate with to solve issues. Now, I was treading in unfamiliar waters – entrepreneurship, and for the first time in my working career, I was tribe-less.
I had never been in business for myself, nor did I have a lot of friends who were in business. I wasn’t a mom, so I didn’t have ‘mom’ friends, and I wasn’t married, so I wasn’t a part of the ‘wives’ club. My tribe was interested in politics – not female entrepreneur’s.
THE SEARCH FOR MY TRIBE
Along with all of the challenges of starting a business, I also had to find a new tribe. Working from home wasn’t going to make this very easy. First, I reconnected with a female friend from high school who was running several successful businesses. We just had coffee meetings, or run-ins at the grocery store at first. Then she introduced me to a networking group of local women entrepreneurs. Next, I went to the small business resource center in St. Thomas and signed up for different workshops and events to meet other female small business owners. Then I started contacting people I knew on LinkedIn and asked them if they would meet for coffee so I could pick their brain about running a small business. I actively sought out local events to go to such as Business After 5, SOAR community in London, and EPIC network.
Next, I tackled the on-line community of female entrepreneurs. Since I worked on-line, I thought this would be easier. I started joining various meet-ups for business women and entrepreneurs in the area, then I sought out on-line groups and women who had similar businesses all over the world.
TYPES OF TRIBES
After a couple of years, I discovered that my tribe had grown quickly, but not everyone in my tribe gave me the same things. It occurred to me that in order to be a well-rounded, successful entrepreneur I needed a few tribes, and that it would be beneficial for both persons if I positioned them into the appropriate areas of my life. First, I needed that group of successful business women who could act as mentors to me. Give me tips of the trade and help me avoid pitfalls. Next, I needed a tribe of women who were smart with money, taxes, investing and who weren’t afraid to share their fears about money. This is a huge part of running a business – talking about making money; knowing your numbers. Those women are harder to find. Then I needed the tribe of creative-like minded women. Women who I could bounce ideas off of, women who knew cool apps or programs that were useful to my work. Finally, I had to find the fun tribe, the social tribe, the women who worked hard but played hard. Some of these women were already in my life, but I knew I needed a few new faces, people who understood the changes in my world and who wanted to see me succeed, while balancing out my life.
In order to thrive and have my business grow, I need to be at my best and the women in my tribe do that for me. They have my back, they share my highs and lows, they offer motivation and inspiration. Just make sure you surround yourself with people who are few steps ahead of you in their business journey so you always have something new to learn.