Ever since I started my business, I've struggled with this dichotomy: I'm an introvert that spends (and prefers to spend!) 8-10 hours a day alone, making or writing, working in my own head and hands… AND I know that community and connection is absolutely the most powerful tool for business growth.
Luckily, I live in an age where I can connect to millions, while still working physically alone everyday. I've been blessed to be part of supportive communities, from the first time I wandered into the then-brand-new Etsy in 2005, all the way to building my own community aboard the Starship. (I'll be sharing more about my personal history with communities and how they've changed my business in tomorrow's podcast.)
But as easy as the internet makes “connecting” – I know I'm not alone in having a hard time finding real friends and connections, both online and off. For starters, it's easy to think of connecting as just wasting time (even when studies prove that the more we maintain connections, the more successful we'll be.) Or to actually waste time and title it “connecting”. (Refreshing Twitter does NOT equal building relationships.)
On top of the whole time issue, it's really hard to find people who get it, who are not just creative and dedicated to building a business, in the same way we are (with gentleness, curiosity, and sustainability.)
But no matter how hard it is, you DO need community.
Even the most driven among us (and I was raised by two Marines, so yeah, I’m pretty internally-motivated), can’t keep up the sustained, long-term work that a business takes, in a vacuum.
When you don't have support, it often presents as laziness – a lack of focus, or lack of commitment – but beating yourself up is NOT the answer.
The saner (and more sustainable!) solution is to find a support network, to “outsource” some of the accountability to your community.
People to who will check in (kindly!) with you.
People who will give you honest (gentle) feedback.
People who will remind you to celebrate your success!
Whether you find these people on Twitter, Facebook, in a forum or even at your local coffeeshop – knowing that you're not the only one that cares about your business, is mightily powerful. It will motivate you to stay focused, to keep working (even when you want to quit), and to try just a little harder. When you spend time with other businesses, you'll begin to believe that more is possible, and you'll get more and more clear on what the path to your success is.
If you're having a hard time finding a community that will keep you accountable (gently!) and spark your motivation, check out the Starship. It was built for crafters, makers, artists, and writers, who need a bit of support, as they work hard on their own business + dreams (and it closes this Friday!)