Support is a word that is as tricky as it is ubiquitous; it's a word we throw around to mean many different things. As moms, we support our kids in becoming well-rounded humans that will eventually contribute positively to their communities. As mompreneurs, we operate businesses that support our families financially and, on a larger scale, help support our economy.
Sometimes we say support in relation to something necessary for existence: like the beams in your house. Other times, we talk about support as a feel-good catch-all: a local public radio station thanking listeners for their support or a card thanking a supportive friend.
But what does support for a business-owning mom really look like? On a personal level, we create and rely on our support systems when we are sick, when emergencies inevitably crop up, or when we need to take time for self-care. But what about support for your business? Many mom entrepreneurs are also solopreneurs; we don't have employees or colleagues we can easily delegate to, bounce ideas around with, or look to for advice.
A traditional office environment comes with this support built in. But you can't wait until your business grows enough to hire employees and create a company structure to get support for your business. Instead, you need to seek out and cultivate supportive business relationships intentionally.
Now, I'll pause for a moment for you to call up your most sarcastic voice and ask, "Oh, is that all?" I get it; it's easier said than done. But it CAN be done. It needs to be done! This doesn't mean you have to attend countless industry conferences and schmooze at networking events, hoping to find a handful of unicorns who can offer connections, business simpatico, and a willingness to form a relationship. Instead, try to seek support in places where it is already being delivered and/or sought after.
If you are a mompreneur in need of support, here are a few places where you can begin to cultivate your support network:
- Online communities. A word of warning: many online communities are anything but supportive. Mommy wars, one-upmanship, and sales pitches in disguise are all alive and well. But, if you wade through these, you can find genuinely supportive communities online. Alternatively, if you notice a handful of consistently helpful participants amongst the trolls, consider reaching out to them and starting your own small support group or mastermind.
- Mastermind groups. Mastermind groups come in many flavors, but whether they are paid or free, regimented or free-form, these groups can offer your support, accountability, and the peer connection you need to be supported as a business owner.
- Small, live courses. I really enjoy being a student, so perhaps I'm a little biased, but small live courses (online or in-person) are a great way to connect with like-minded people. Being in the same class means you already have common ground. Make it a point to communicate with individuals in these classes to keep the discussion going after the course ends.
- Local small business owner meet-ups. While in-person events for local business owners may not yield industry-specific contacts, it does connect you with your neighbors. As an ecommerce entrepreneur, I had connections around the world that I could rely on for support. But, I found a different type of support and connection when I found out my neighbor (literally one house away) was also a mompreneur growing an ecommerce business. The affinity that stems from "Can I borrow your pallet jack?" and "I can't figure out this shipping issue! Can you help? I have tequila!" offers a perfect chance to build a robust support system.