Let’s get started with the challenge

Day 4: Cultivate Community

Today's Prompt:

Now, you’ve read today’s prompt about how important community is. Search online or in your neighborhood and find a community in which your idea can thrive, and say "hello."

Going it alone is hard. I (Kyle) have set up a number of ventures both alone and with other people. Working with or alongside other people makes the whole process easier. Today, I want to talk about the importance of community and how you can work with others to improve and launch your idea far more efficiently than if you work in isolation.

Full disclosure, if I am presented with a choice of whether to work alone or collaborate with others, my gut reaction is to choose working alone. I am naturally introverted, and I loathe forced networking. That being said, I recognize the value of working with others. When collaboration “happens to me,” it always works out for the best. So don't feel you need to be embedded in communities already. Mine have been cultivated with a bit of work and naturally over time.

You might find that, like me, you are comfortable in social settings like coffee shops and pubs, even if you dread “forced networking” events as much as a tooth drilling. Context matters. I’ve found that coffee shops and pubs, especially small ones, are great places for “natural networking.” Especially nowadays, with remote working being so prevalent, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at who you meet in such friendly settings if you strike up a conversation with someone sitting across from you.

Even better is if you find that you have a common goal and can eventually work on something with this new stranger. This is a way to get the “networking” out of “natural networking” that takes the pressure off – no more small talk. No more "So, what do you do?" Instead, focus on doing something together.

Casey and I met and became friends when she noticed that I was programming on WordPress. She struck up a conversation with me to ask for some advice about how to sets up her blog. As we talked about websites and marketing, we realized that we had many common interests and goals, and a working friendship developed out of these common interests. Similarly, we identified who we could ask to be founding members and participants of 30 Days of Doing by talking to friends in the community about their interests and goals.

Benefits of building a community

By saying your idea out loud to a group of people, you are forcing yourself to treat it as a “real” idea and to refine your message. You’ll be able to receive friendly feedback and constructive criticism, which can be incredibly valuable, especially when first launching your business.

You may find that you have similar goals with another member of your community, and then you can mutually benefit from collaboration. Skills can be exchanged – for example, in our original group, Karin is a talented photographer, and Casey has an eye for design. Karin and Casey realized that Karin could give Casey tips on photography for her blog, and Casey could help Karin with the design of her logo and website.

Members of your community will also be your loudest cheering squad – and, potentially, your first customers. They’ll be emotionally invested in your business since they’ve spent time giving you advice and seen it grow from the beginning.

By forming a local community group, you open yourself up to the possibility of finding a business partner. This is certainly not a guarantee, but when you surround yourself with likeminded people and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, you may find a way to partner with someone that is mutually beneficial.

Returning to our original prompt

There are many types of communities already out there. Formal networking communities like Business Networking International offer a well-established structure in which to meet others. Local groups with specific niches like Flock, which brings likeminded women in business together in London, are also wonderful and allow you to hone in on the type of people you’d like to connect with. There are online communities, both free and membership-based, that allow people to connect with others globally.

We recommend that, if you’re averse to socializing like me, perhaps you start with an online community first. This will help you recognize the value of community for the lowest possible investment (both time- and money-wise) and go from there.

(Fun fact: Ben Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, established a group called the Leather Apron Club, or Junto, in the 1700s. Franklin and a group of local workers including surveyors, printers, and a barman met frequently to discuss specific goals: bettering themselves, gaining knowledge, supporting each other, and giving back to their community. These small-craftsmen believed that their Junto would inspire them and those around them to do great things with their small businesses. 30 Days of Doing was partially inspired by this concept, and we suggest that you read more about the Junto[1].)


[1] https://www.conversationmatters.com/articles/theartof/benfranklin.html 27 Jan. 2017.  

Reflect on the first three days of action.