The how-to guide for finding your online community

Being a solopreneur is an exciting journey. You have a business that you love and are eager to grow. However, one of the things that many solopreneurs are not prepared for is the loneliness that can come from wearing all of the hats. As you grow your venture, it’s helpful to have a community of like-minded people on a similar journey who can help you navigate the waters. Joining an online community is about more than just making friends and feeling a sense of belonging (although it is admittedly one of the best parts).

 

The power of the RIGHT community

Online communities can educate you and provide you with opportunities for growth that hustling alone just can’t. When you’re a solopreneur, you don’t have a team around you to fill in the gaps that your knowledge or expertise doesn’t cover. That can leave you vulnerable to slower growth and making more mistakes in your business.

In addition, online communities can help you with advice and support in areas that you’re not familiar with such as investing, finance, business planning, social media, and more. Not to mention, these communities can also serve as powerful networking opportunities, in referring you to new business and clients.

When you’re running a business without the support of a community behind you, it can leave you hustling for everything on your own. When you’re part of a community, not only do you benefit by receiving, but you get to contribute to the community with your insights and expertise as well. It becomes a powerful exchange where everyone wins.

There are several types of communities that you can join, ranging from free to paid. The type of community you join depends on the needs you have and the types of interactions you want to have within the community.

 

Here are a few types of communities for you to consider.

Masterminds

Masterminds are usually (but not always) paid groups where business owners of varied expertise and common goals come together for mutual support. There is a facilitator that brings everyone together and sets the agenda for meetings. In mastermind groups, everyone gives and everyone receives. You bring a concern, challenge, or question to the group, and you get the perspectives of everyone in the group to support you in choosing your way forward. Mastermind groups often meet once a month, but that can vary from group to group.

These groups work best when the members have complementary expertise instead of the same or competing expertise. If your business is not the focus of the mastermind, but learning a skill is, then you want to make sure the mastermind group is full of people with different experience levels. For example, if you’re a freelancing social media manager, you may want to join a mastermind group specifically for social media managers about work-life balance.

These communities are usually on the higher end investment-wise, and they often require six months to a year of participation. These are intimate communities that foster a sense of camaraderie and belonging.

 

Referral-based groups

Referrals are a powerful way to grow your business without having to hustle yourself into the ground. Referrals are an organic, leveraged way of growing your client base. There are several groups dedicated to this kind of support, including free and paid options.

Some of these groups include places like Alignable: a free online platform for small business owners who are open to sharing referrals with one another. A paid group, BNI (Business Network International), is the world’s largest referral networking group. By joining a local chapter, you can network in person and online with other business owners in your area who could be great fits for sending you referrals.

 

Membership communities

Membership communities are among some of the most popular online forums today. They’re a lower barrier to entry because the investment is often low and the educational resources they provide are significant libraries of material. Many of these communities also have an ongoing social component that members can access daily with ease.

 

Here are a couple of online communities that have been positive for female solopreneurs.

The Female Entrepreneur Association is perhaps one of the largest membership groups dedicated to helping women grow successful businesses. Started by author of She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur, Carrie Green, The Female Entrepreneur Association holds over 40 masterclasses in their growing resource library to train their members on all aspects of growing their businesses.

With a mission for women to grow businesses that are successful and help them to thrive, this is a great place for female solopreneurs to start their education and begin networking with other business owners who have been in their shoes.

Hey Mama is another powerful membership group for female solopreneurs. With a community full of moms who are also business owners, all dedicated to supporting one another and learning together, Hey Mama is a beacon for working mothers to congregate. From sick days to unexpected Zoom meeting crashes, it can be difficult raising a family and growing a business. Hey Mama provides a safe place for mama solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and leaders to feel seen, heard, and understood while they navigate the trenches of taking care of their children and their businesses at the same time.

 

Finding your place…

If you’re looking for the social aspect of a community as your primary motivation, then referral organizations and membership groups may be a better fit for you. However, if you’re looking for more long-term commitments with closer relationships being built, incubators and masterminds may suit you better. No matter what type of community you explore, remember that even as a solopreneur, you don’t have to be in your business alone.

 

 

 

Kellee Marlow is an Impact Entrepreneur, Empowerment Accelerator, and Motivational Speaker. She built her career by embracing disruption and identifying innovative concepts and technologies that challenged companies and people to think differently. Her over 20-year career spans corporate, entrepreneurial, and advisory roles across technology, business services, consumer products, real estate, and retail verticals, with experience in finance, marketing, business development, and public relations.

In working with companies and organizations including Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle), Healthnet, the University of California, the San Francisco Medical Center, and Royal Cruise Line, Kellee developed a data-proven success mindset, focused on people empowerment, high-performance, and innovation that guides companies and organizations to successfully realize their goals in inclusive and sustainable ways.

After working with corporations, Kellee specialized in development at the venture accelerator, O2 Venture Partners, and founded the private investment group Lion Ventures Group. In these businesses, she evaluated potential acquisitions and helped emerging technology prospects crystallize their value proposition and target markets.

Now, as the founder and host of the Spark on KXSF.FM, and its podcast broadcasted on over eight online platforms that stream worldwide, Kellee interviews leading change-makers in psychology, wellness, business, sustainability, and innovation, including Charles Hoskinson, Ashish Gadnis, Gretchen Rubin, David Meltzer, David Siegel, Dr. Frank Lipman, and more.

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