If you are an entrepreneur, I know how you’re living: trying to squeeze 30 hours of work into an 18 hour day, while trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents. But no matter how hard you work or how busy you get, if you want to keep your competitive edge, never forget that isolation is your enemy.
My advice? Simply this: Spend as much time as you can with other entrepreneurs. And whatever you do, don’t get so caught up with the day-to-day challenges of operating your business that you isolate yourself from others, including clients and potential customers.
No matter how brilliant your idea or how much passion and hard work you bring to the task, entrepreneurship is hard, especially in the beginning. If you are persistent, flexible, resourceful and fortunate, your business will survive long enough to reap major rewards for you. Until then, you’re going to need all of the advice, mentoring, ideas, connections, and perhaps most of all, encouragement and understanding, you can get. What’s the best source for all these things? Other entrepreneurs, more experienced ones who can help you to avoid the mistakes they made and exploit opportunities they missed, and fellow newbies who can share both your triumphs and your fears, because they have them, too.
More practically, being active in networks of entrepreneurs in your city and industry will keep you plugged in to information about financing, contracting opportunities and other resources you’ll need to survive and thrive. So join local business groups and chambers of commerce in your city, county or state. Schedule regular meetings with your banker. Attend and connect with fellow business owners at events such as the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit. Use LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media tools to network and share intelligence with other entrepreneurs.
Establishing strong healthy business networks and staying plugged in will keep you connected to your most important and necessary resource: information.
Black Enterprise Executive Editor-At-Large Alfred Edmond Jr. is an award-winning business and financial journalist, media executive, entrepreneurship expert, personal growth/relationships coach, and co-founder of Grown Zone, a multimedia initiative focused on personal growth and healthy decision-making. This blog is dedicated to his thoughts about money, entrepreneurship, leadership and mentorship. Follow him on Twitter at @AlfredEdmondJr.