When you’re working hard to develop a side hustle or business, or trying to make the leap from employment to entrepreneurship, you’re going to need a few shoulders to lean on from time to time. Managing a full-time job working for someone else while establishing your own side gigs is exhausting, and everyone needs a little help along the way.
It’s not just that starting up your own venture takes lots of time and energy – it’s a long, hard process full of emotional ups and downs too. There’s a whole lot that you have to put into it, and that doesn’t stop and start at just the actual work you’re doing.
Entrepreneurs and side hustlers often need to tackle new skills, deal with a wide variety of people (some who are more pleasant than others), manage tedious back-end tasks, keep themselves organized by implementing new systems and processes to help manage the crazy amount of stuff happening, and so on.
Especially when you’re doing something you’ve never done before, you need some kind of support system. While many people turn to a significant other, parents, or very close friends, not everyone has that built-in network available.
Maybe you’re not ready to tell all your friends about your efforts. Maybe you’re not married or in a serious relationship. Maybe your family thinks you’re nuts for working on your side hustle or business, and has told you it’s not realistic or feasible.
If, for whatever reason, you don’t have a traditional support system in place – or the support system you wanted to rely on is less than encouraging – here are three ways you can build your own group of supportive individuals who will be more than happy to help you along every step of the way as you increase your income or build a business.
Join a Relevant Network Online
Your support group doesn’t have to be made of people you regularly interact with offline in order to be valid. Seek out communities, clubs, and groups online that are relevant to what you’re doing. Don’t just join – be an active part of that community. Ask questions, provide suggestions, start conversations.
Remember, even though you’re interacting with people from behind a screen, they’re still human and so are you. Your manners matter. Say “please” and “thank you,” express appreciation, and respond to disagreements in a calm way (or don’t engage at all with someone who is aggressive and looking to pick a fight).
These things may seem small – or obvious – but they go a long way in a digital setting. You’d be amazed how many people don’t do these things, so remembering them will make a big, wonderful impression on the people you’re trying to connect with.
Not sure where to start when it comes to joining a relevant network? Seek out people that are like-minded, but not necessarily living in situations and leading lives that could be carbon copies of your own.
People who are in the same field or line of work as you are can be valuable members of a support group, because they understand what you’re going through and the problems you’re working to overcome – but their experiences should be varied enough so that you can both provide valuable insight and advice to each other.
Participate in Conferences and Other Events
Of course, there isn’t anything like making a face-to-face connection. Once you’ve established a bit of an online support group you know you can rely on, you can make plans to participate in scheduled meetups or industry-wide conferences and events.
Plan to meet up with people you’ve communicated with online so you can establish that “in real life” connection. For financial bloggers and industry leaders, that place is often FinCon, a big conference held annually. There are other conventions like this, and many bloggers who have formed friendships online regularly schedule meet-ups and get-togethers between people that live close or have the ability to travel to hang out more than once a year.
If there’s no planned meet-up, plan your own and invite the people that have become an integral part of your online-based support group.
Be a Support System for Someone Else
The best way to find people that you can lean on or ask advice of is to provide that kind of support and encouragement yourself. Offer to help if you know someone is struggling with a project or idea. Send out regular emails to people you think are awesome and ask how things are doing. Start conversations with the people you’re currently in touch with – even if it’s just to say, “wow, you did an awesome job on [recent accomplishment]!”
Do these things because you genuinely want to be a supportive friend and colleague, not because you’re hoping to gain something from the interaction. Act with sincerity and honesty – and just build up that good karma.
People will remember how kind, thoughtful, and friendly you were when they needed help, especially if your words or actions got them through a tough time or set them on the path they needed in order to find success. They’ll know that you’re someone they can count on – and they’ll likely want you to know that they will be the same for you.