Life as an entrepreneur or start-up can be lonely at the best of times, and in the current climate many business owners will be feeling isolated. Building professional networks and being part of an active business community – whether online or offline – can have huge benefits for the development of your company, and for your own personal journey.
We have recently expanded our accountancy services and legal services into Brighton, Sussex, where our experienced team of Brighton Accountants are getting to know and help businesses in the area. One business we’ve become friendly with is The Projects, a co-working and serviced office space in the city centre. Their motto is Beautiful things happen when we work together, and we agree.
Collaboration and community are vital for business success. As many of us are discovering during lockdown, working remotely in isolation can severely limit your ability to make the connections you need, deliver the best quality work and maintain your own energy and motivation. However, even when face to face contact is limited, there are still plenty of ways to tap into valuable communities that can help you and your business thrive.
Playing an active role in a community has a range of benefits – and the word “active” is key. You will get out what you put in, so if you want to reap all the rewards then you need to be prepared to contribute too.
When you’re connected to an engaged community, whether it exists in a real or virtual space, or both, you can make valuable contacts to support the development of your business. From finding out about relevant opportunities, to giving and receiving referrals, to being a trusted expert that others will recommend and speak highly of, choosing the right community to embed yourself in can get you in front of all the right people.
If you are a one person band or a small business, being connected to others with complementary skills can put you in a position to bid for bigger contracts, take on more complex projects, negotiate better rates on purchases or share resources. Collaboration is a simple, cost-effective and flexible way to scale up your business.
No one knows everything, and building a business requires an impossible breadth of knowledge and skills. Having a network of people with varied areas of expertise means that there is always someone that you can ask when you run into difficulties, have a question, or want to brainstorm ideas and test concepts. You can also get affordable training through skills swaps, trading some of your time teaching one skill in exchange for time learning another.
Entrepreneurship requires a serious amount of resilience. You will come up against so many roadblocks and setbacks and difficult decisions that it can be easy to become discouraged. A community behind you means people to commiserate with when things are hard, celebrate with when things go well, and to share their own stories so you have a better idea of what difficulties to anticipate and how you might deal with them.
Taking an active role in a business community gives you the opportunity to showcase your expertise through writing blog posts or whitepapers, hosting events or taking part in discussions, and running courses or workshops. This establishes you as a leader in this area and gives people a taste of your brilliance so they will come back for more.
There are lots of different ways to become part of a community, and choosing the right one for you is incredibly important. You want to be sure you will be connected to the right people who can help you develop your business, who are on a similar and complementary journey to yourself, and who can help you reach your target customers. Once you’ve chosen your community, or communities, you need to be prepared to contribute your time and energy to support your fellow members if you want the same from them.
For freelancers, start-ups and small businesses, one of the easiest ways to become part of a community is to join a co-working space. Having a place to work alongside others not only helps you to feel as though you have colleagues, but gives you access to a range of events and resources to support you and your business. Even during lockdown, you can get value from a co-working membership. At The Projects, virtual membership gives you access to free online events and resources, as well as Zoom co-working, a WhatsApp group for chat and advice and virtual social events.
There are a range of business networks to suit different needs, and no matter what your specialty
you will be able to find groups for your industry and for your geographical area. Whether it’s your local Chamber of Commerce or a sector-specific organisation like Wired Sussex that supports businesses in the digital, tech and media sectors, these networks give you access to training and events as well as the chance to promote your business through directories and online content.
Joining sector or interest groups within your local community that are specifically targeted to your ideal clients or collaborators is a great way to build your reputation. In Brighton we’re lucky to have some incredible community groups, such as Brighton Digital Women, Content Club, The Happy Startup, The Good Business Club and Thrive. Membership of these groups gives you the opportunity to learn and develop your skills, showcase your expertise through speaking, facilitating or writing, and enables you to make contacts and friendships.
Regularly attending networking events that are specific to either your local area or your industry is a great way to get to know the key players in your business community. During lockdown, many of these events have gone online so don’t miss out on the opportunity to get out there whilst staying in!
Supporting charities or community projects not only gives you a sense of satisfaction and purpose in your work but also builds your reputation by showing your commitment to your values and your local area. Corporate Social Responsibility activities benefit good causes, boost your own and your team’s mental wellbeing, and give good publicity both to your business and the organisation you’re supporting. It’s a win-win.
Community is incredibly valuable to us all, as business people and as human beings. During these difficult times, maintaining a sense of connection is more important than ever. Reach out to your local networks and make the most of the opportunities available to you to build a community for yourself. If you would like to know more about the online events and resources available to The Projects’ online community, visit the-projects.space or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a remote working policy in place or are you unsure how to recover from Covid-19? At Accounts and Legal, our experienced HR and legal advisors can help put together a customised company handbook, advise on employment law, improve cash flow and help you lower overheads.
If you’re looking for help with accounting or HR or employment legal needs, get in touch with us on 02070434000 or email@example.com. You can also get a quick online accountancy quote in just 60 seconds through our online tool.