The secret weapon of successful entrepreneurs

The secret weapon of successful entrepreneurs

Who do you have in your inner circle?

There’s this old African proverb that I love:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

This wisdom is applies to so man aspects of our lives. But it is especially true in business.

After 39 interviews for the Entrepreneur Survival Summit, one of the major themes that popped up again and again had to do with the networks that we build as business owners.

The most successful business owners have a team of people serving various roles for them to help them be great. And if you want to go far with your business, you need a team too.

That’s not to say that your network needs to be a mile long. You just need to make developing and nurturing quality relationships with like-minded people a priority for you.

There are several different types of relationships you need to focus on. In particular, there are four critical roles you need to fill within your inner circle. Let’s walk through each:

1. The Light Shiner

This is your mentor. This is the person who shows you what’s possible, and gives you vision beyond your own frame of reference.

Your mentor can be somebody that you interact with on a regular basis, or it could be someone you study from afar.

In my own business, Seth Godin, Issa Rae, and Copyblogger Media are my light shiners. They all have reached a level of success in three very different manners that inspires me.

When thinking of your mentors, they don’t have to be in your same industry, or be following the exact same path you are taking. Rather, they just need to have accomplished something on a related level that can light a path forward for you.

2. The GPS

This is your coach. This is the person that trains you, charts a path for you to help you get from where you are to where you want to go. Your trainer helps you see your blind spots, and helps you strengthen your abilities in important skills.

There are various forms in which you could get coached by someone, including live interaction and virtual training via courses, books, and online content.

I get coached for my business through a variety of methods, including online courses, private forums & Q&A sessions, and I also work 1:1 with a coach.

When thinking of your coaches, be sure to take into account how you learn. If you are fine being self-guided, then online courses could totally work for you. If you know you’re someone who tends to have lots of questions, and really like learning directly from a warm body, then 1:1 or group coaching may be better for you.

Your personality should also be considered. For instance, if you don’t respond well to tough love, then don’t get a coach who uses that as a primary method to get results.

3. The Sharpener

These are your peers. These are the people who are taking a similar journey with you. You need them in your world because they will help keep you motivated, and hold you accountable.

Another added benefit of connecting with other entrepreneurs is that they understand exactly what you’re going through because they are taking the same path as you. They get it when you have a high one day, and a low point the next. They understand the frustrations and some of the big victories.

In the interview with Dr. Valerie Young for the summit, she mentioned that engaging with other entrepreneurs regularly is also a way to combat Impostor Syndrome.

I recently had a weeklong mastermind with my girlfriends. They came down to Buenos Aires, and we spent a good amount of time walking through plans for 2016 and beyond. We brainstormed, challenged, supported, and pushed one another.

And we’ll meet virtually every three weeks to help hold each other accountable to the goals we put in place.

A common objection I get from entrepreneurs, is that they have trouble finding like-minded peers. I’ve met a ton of great people at conferences that I keep in touch with. I also meet lots of cool people through podcast interviews, forums and private communities of courses that I’m a part of.

As you’re thinking about who to include in your inner circle of peers, make sure you consider personality traits. Ideally, you’ll have a diverse cross-section of people with different strengths.

In addition, the people you connect with on a regular basis can also be in different industries than you. This is also helpful because it gives them a fresh point of view with which to help advise you on things for your business.

4. The Cheerleader

Everyone needs support. Someone to believe in you, even when you don’t. Someone to encourage you to keep going, and to remind you of why you set off on the journey, especially when you’re having tough days.

And as an entrepreneur, as you know, there will be tough days.

So it’s great to have people on your team who love you unconditionally. Who support you and want what’s best for you. And who’s association with you isn’t dependent upon how successful your business is.

That will be the person who’ll be able to snap you out of a funk, or will know exactly what to say to get you on the right track.

I’ve got a number of cheerleaders in my world, including my family, my boyfriend, and my close friends. And they are able to be better cheerleaders for me because they all have a degree of knowledge about my business and know what my goals are.

When assessing your cheerleaders, make sure you let them take your entrepreneurial journey with you. Let them in. Share your goals, your fears, and your dreams. You’ll better equip them to give you what you need when you need it.

Ready to go far with your business?

If so, then it’s time to assemble your rock-star crew. Here’s a bit of homework to help you get going:

  1. Who are your light shiners? Make a list of 3-5 people who have done what you would like to do in your business.
  2. Once you’ve got your list, brainstorm three ways for each person that you can continue to learn more about what they’ve accomplished, and the steps they took to get there.
  3. Who are your GPS’? Make as list of 3-5 people who can help train you to reach your business goals.
  4. Once you have a list of coaches, brainstorm one way for each person for how to best benefit from their knowledge and expertise.
  5. Who are your sharpeners? Make a list of 7-10 people who are taking a similar entrepreneur journey as you.
  6. Once you’ve got your list, brainstorm two ways for each person that you can stay connected on a regular basis to progress toward your goals.
  7. Who are your cheerleaders? Make a list of 3-5 people who can provide you support and encouragement along the way.
  8. Once you have a list of cheerleaders, brainstorm two ways for each person that you can keep them in the know about your goals, and what’s happening in your business.