Leveraging your Entrepreneurial Network

The American Entrepreneurial Spirit

There are a growing number of Americans who want to become their own boss. Among surveyed high school students, 72 % aspire to start a business, and 61 % would rather be an entrepreneur than an employee after they graduate from college.

This entrepreneurial spirit isn’t just limited to young people. The proportion of individuals starting businesses in their fifties and sixties has increased in recent years. At one point this group even surpassed the typical entrepreneur age group of individuals in their twenties and thirties. There’s an increased desire to become a business owner at any age. But there’s a reason why all these people wanting to become entrepreneurs don’t do it. It’s a difficult path that requires a lot of hard work, innovation and maybe most importantly, networking.

What it Takes to Make it

Throughout my four years at my college, I’ve been taking Entrepreneurship classes to earn a minor in the subject. No, I can’t spell the word on the first try, (who can!?) but I can tell you what makes an entrepreneur successful.

  • Your business must deliver a value proposition to your customers, or a promise that you will deliver value to them through your product or service.
  • The first version of your product or service isn’t going to be perfect. If it is, that means you waited too long to launch your business.  
  • It’s not always about what you know; sometimes it’s about who you know.

This last part is extremely important. To make sure you know the right people, it’s important to start cultivating your network now. This blog will show you ways to grow and leverage your network to support your business.

Join Entrepreneurial Groups

Other entrepreneurs should be an integral part of your network. They can provide key insights and advice on how to start your business and can even become mentors. Joining entrepreneurial groups will introduce you to other business owners in various stages of the process. Entrepreneur’s Organization is an entrepreneurial thought leader across the world, offering forums, peer mentor, customized learning programs and global networking events. Another organization, United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship focuses on entrepreneurship education, research, and outreach. There are dozens of other entrepreneurship groups to choose from. Do some research and find which is best for you!

Utilize Your Peers in Franchising

If you operate within a franchise model company, like Proforma, you have a network of independent business owners to learn from and grow with. These franchise owners are like-minded and are most likely experiencing similar trials and triumphs as you, making them a valuable resource for support and advice.

Seek opportunities to meet face-to-face and and exchange information, so you can reach out when questions arise or you’d like to bounce an idea off someone. With franchising, you won’t have to feel like you’re going at it alone.

Network with Former Colleagues

If you’re in the majority age group of individuals starting their first business, you probably have a solid foundation of former coworkers or classmates. When making the jump to entrepreneurial work, keep these relationships intact. You can garner support for your new business by leaning on this pre-established network for introductions, partnerships, financial backing or guidance. They can not only offer professional help, but personal support as you begin your journey as a business owner.         

Join an Industry Organization 

Joining an industry organization can benefit a new business owner no matter what field they’re in. If you’re in the marketing or communication industry, like many of Proforma’s business owners, you may want to join an organization such as the American Marketing Association (AMA), Public Relation Society of America (PRSA), or American Advertising Federation (AAF). If your business is in another industry, there’s likely to be an organization for you too. Unlike entrepreneurial groups, these industry organizations offer memberships to individuals in the field the organization operates in. Joining an organization with like-minded industry professionals can help you increase your skillset, expose you to industry trends and more.

So, who do you know?

If your business has a solid foundation, cultivating your network can bring opportunities and advantages to take you to the next level. You’ll never know when that introduction or contact will become someone you can rely on to grow your business.

While networking and meeting contacts make sure you leave a lasting impression with a well-designed business card. Get in touch with Proforma, Industry-Leading Print and Promotional Products Supplier to help create the print materials that connect you and your network.    

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