Networking: Getting Involved In Your Community

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How networking can lower your stress levels

overwhelmed For most small business owners, the crises never end. You have, staff, suppliers, and clients, inspectors, assessors, OH&S, landlords, councils, work-cover, insurance claims, license renewals, compulsory professional development points, tax, the bank, paperwork, marketing, IT, sales, quality assurance and the list goes on. You run around from brushfire to brushfire all day, and no one seems to be able to do anything without you. As a result, you just don’t get around to doing the stuff you would actually like to do.
And to top it off, your health suffers, your family barely see you and even when you do take a holiday, you are always on the phone, just so the business will still be there when you get back.
Most business owners feel overwhelmed and stressed and unsure where to focus their attention next.

Nobody “gets” it

Try and explain your life to someone who doesn’t run their own business and the chances are their eyes will glaze over before you’ve even finished the first sentence.

Nobody else “gets” it… You may be surrounded by well-meaning partners and friends, but they rarely understand what it is like to be in charge every day, wearing all the hats of marketing, sales, finance, customer satisfaction, quality control, tax, work cover, staff wellbeing, systems and innovation etc etc. etc The buck always stops with you and nobody else.

The feeling of being alone adds to the consistent feelings of overwhelm and stress and can cost the business owner dearly on a personal level, and on a business level from bad decision making and stifled business development.

Soldier on

Yet most business owners just “soldier on” regardless, because they don’t know what else to do and they often feel trapped.

Is any of this starting to feel familiar?

So what can you do to get out of this trap and start to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come?

As a business coach who specialises in working with people in trade businesses, I often ask my clients what they believe is the most valuable resources of their business.

The most frequent answers are:

  • My Staff
  • My Customers
  • My Machinery.

In actual fact though, nothing will ever be as valuable to your business as your time and your health. Everything else in your business you can hire, buy or borrow more off, but your time and your health are the only truly limited resources that your business can not live without.

Time to look after you?

So take a deep breath and ask yourself: Is it time to treat those two key resources with the respect they deserve? Time to start to look after yourself and acknowledge that you just can’t do it all on your own?

The good news is this:  There are other people out there who ‘Get it’ – honestly – they are called fellow business owners and getting involved with fellow business owners may be one of the most effective things you can do to lower your stress – and build your business.

One of the most effective ways to build a business that sustain you for years to come is to take the time to get involved with local business communities.

The benefits of doing this are well documented and include:

  • Support and feedback from others who do get it!
  • Shared Knowledge and access to experts.
  • Building relationships and alliances for future business development.
  • Support when you are struggling.
  • Assistance from those who have probably ‘been there and done that’ before.

Jamie gets involved

plumber A client of mine, Jamie, has a small plumbing business based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. A few years ago Jamie’s life looked just like I described above, he wasn’t sleeping and was stressed and worn out.

One day a mate of Jamie’s with an electrical business invited Jamie to come along to a weekly business breakfast group. Although Jamie had never been much of a networker he decided to attend.

The meeting was a revelation for Jamie, because there, at the breakfast table, were 35 small business owners who were all ‘in the same boat’ and they met every week to support each other in the development of their businesses.

To cut a long story short, Jamie joined the group, and has attended the business breakfast every week for the last three years. The change in Jamie’s outlook on life and business has been amazing. He said to me: “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel again and for once, it’s not a train”.

Jamie’s advice

Besides attending the breakfast meeting each week, Jamie also regularly meets with his fellow members one-on-one. He’s often asked for advice and for once, people’s eyes don’t glaze over when he talks about a pressing issue. On the contrary, they roll up their sleeves and want to know more.

One of the objectives of the group is also to refer business to each other, and by the end of year three of his membership, Jamie’s business has grown by 50%, largely as a result of joining the group.

The best news is that Jamie doesn’t feel so isolated anymore, he is even sleeping again and his family get to see him again as well.

Options

Here are some options for getting involved:

  • Join your local professional body’s barbeques, trainings and other gatherings.
  • Join your local or State Chamber of Commerce and get involved.
  • Join a business referral group, such as BNI (BNI.com.au) and get involved
  • Join an advisory board program.

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will reduce your stress levels and be one of the best business decisions you ever make… I promise you.

Jamie will be involved with his community for years to come… What will you get involved with?

So go on… get out there!

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