How to create a supportive community for like-minded businesses

There’s an old African proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I truly believe that we’re always better when we’re part of a supportive community and this concept is proven to be true especially when speaking about businesses.

The idea of business communities is not a new one. After all, we have industry bodies for a range of established areas like accounting, engineering, medicine, and farming. However, I am firmly of the opinion that this is a concept that can and should be replicated by Founders and SMEs as well.

Starting your own business can be hard

The simple fact is that starting your own business is hard. I’m sure you’ve read the statistics that 90 per cent of new start-ups fail and that only 50 per cent make it to their fifth year. Small businesses and start-ups need support and mentoring if they are to succeed. Most, however, don’t have the financial resources to invest heavily in these areas – the areas required for sustainable growth.

That’s why it’s so important to be able to connect with others who share that experience. Who else would understand the challenges that come with handling the uncertainty of following your passion and building something from the ground up? The feeling of being undernourished, over-caffeinated and constantly sleep-deprived?

The value of a supportive community

When you’re part of a business community, you’re able to build relationships and collaborate with others who are in the same boat. At Nash + Banks, many of our brands share common values and are presented with similar challenges. We believe in the power of community and the importance of supporting businesses by creating connections between our brands to support each other. In addition to making important industry connections, it’s also an opportunity to trade relevant advice, learn from each other’s mistakes, share pertinent life hacks, and laugh over much-needed memes as you navigate the daily grind.

Having a community of business owners that are aligned either on values, vision or the life stage of a company creates a forum to share resources, knowledge and support. I can personally vouch for the fact that, very often, these communities quickly become your partners, friends, inspiration and emotional support. And, by supporting one another, our community sees the benefit in driving forward our shared agenda of a more sustainable future.

How to create a community

  1. Firstly, you’ll need to identify where your business currently sits in terms of values, vision and life stage. Pinpointing your focus will help you recognise it in others. For example, in the Nash + Banks community, we are largely SMEs who possess shared values in terms of ethical and sustainable business practices and are working towards a common goal.
  2. Next, seek out forums and existing communities that align with your goals. These can be through events (Eventbrite and Meetup are great places to start) or online and social media (I’m personally a fan of the female founder and sustainability focussed forums).
  3. Make sure to also reach out to other business owners that you network with through your own business dealings. This can be other vendors, suppliers, referral partners, or clients.
  4. Give as good as you get. In order to build and maintain a thriving community, there needs to be an equal exchange of ideas. This means you must be open to sharing your knowledge, experience, tips and tricks as part of the community dialogue.
  5. Lastly, remember that communities should be open and inclusive. Diversity of members equals diversity of thought, and we can never have enough of that!

Niccii Kugler, Founder, Nash + Banks

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