The Different Types of Support for Entrepreneurs
Do you need a coach? To buy a program? Or just a regular massage? Support comes in many different forms for our business, but do you figure out what kind of support you need? In this episode, I’m digging into the different types of support for entrepreneurs and how to figure out what’s right for you.
One of the reasons I started BS-Free Business seven years ago is that I was sick and tired of being unable to find the type of business support and support for entrepreneurs that I wanted. While I’d been fortunate enough to have several reliable and trusted business friends as well as contractors/collaborators, I found myself struggling with two key things.
First, I wanted a mentor who knew what it was like to build a service business. I joined masterminds, I worked with coaches, and I joined programs with mixed results. Some of the support for entrepreneurs I received was super helpful, but after a while, I needed something more specific to the type of business I was building. And in other cases, the person I was looking to for guidance didn’t give a flying fig about me or my business.
Secondly, I was fortunate in 2013 to join a community that was full of some of the best people I’ve met business-wise. I’m still friends with many of those people today. The only problem was that I needed something more specialized as a service business owner, as I didn’t want to talk about Facebook ads or growing my email list. At that point, I committed full-on to having an agency; that wouldn’t be the type of conversation I needed to have for the stage and direction of my business.
Honestly, this messed with me, as I started to think it was a problem with me. I wondered if I was wrong to be all-in on having a service-based business, and it resulted in wasted time, money and effort.
Ultimately, it was my business friends who saw things clearly and told me (and my then-business partner) to create what we wanted for ourselves.
I know I’ve shared parts of this story before, but the more time passes, the more I realize how much all the external chatter and input from coaches who didn’t get it did a real number on my confidence. I’m so grateful those business friends cut the BS and gave us the push they did.
Years later, I’m glad I did, as supporting other service business owners has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Maybe it’s because I know the frustration of feeling alone or unsupported on your business journey. Or the questioning when you wonder if you’re missing something.
No matter what the structure of my business has been over the last 18 years, support has been the one constant. And when you feel unsupported, you suffer, as does your business.
That’s one of the reasons I included support as one of the six pillars in the Staying Solo Framework. Earlier this season, I explored the role of support and how pivotal it is for us as service business owners.
In this episode, I want to dig further into the details around the different types of support for entrepreneurs, along with how to check in on what support you may need now or in the future.
Support for Entrepreneurs: Pick the Right Support at the Right Time
Remember a few minutes ago when I talked about how I tried so many different things on my quest to find business support for entrepreneurs? I’m sure many of you really identified with that feeling of trying out other solutions but not getting what you’re after.
I attribute that to a lack of understanding of what support could look like, along with a constant barrage of “solutions” that play on our fears and insecurity. As I’ve mentioned, most of the solutions offering support in the online business world are coaching, courses, or programs.
That’s simply three types of support when I’ve identified 17 possible ways to get the support you need as a business owner. I’ve broken those into four categories, which I want to explore in more detail, as we need to identify which category and, ultimately, the type of support we need at any given time.
Hiring a coach when you need a therapist or joining another course when you need a consultant will likely lead to discontentment and possibly resentment. If you’re seeking out support for entrepreneurs, getting the wrong type of support can do more harm than good, so we need to be able to look critically at what we truly need.
When you look at the definition of support, it means a lot of different things, but the one I like for the context of our business is “to give courage, faith, or confidence to help or comfort.” That’s the type of support we’re all in need of!
And if you’ll indulge a little bit of word nerdy, the root word of support is port, which means to carry. When looking for support for entrepreneurs, consider what you need help with carrying. Support is about helping you carry the load in some way.
Naturally, when we think of services that may support us, we think of coaching. I fully believe there’s a time and place for coaching, but it’s a mistake to hire a coach when you need an accountant, lawyer, or brand strategist.
Sometimes, you need support in doing something and taking action (which is what a coach will help you do), or you need someone to just do it for you. Services such as consulting, professional services, strategists, or other done-for-you services can help support you by alleviating part of your load with their expertise.
Most of us don’t start a business with all the skills we need to run that business, so periodically, we need support to help us build our competence and capabilities. That may be a program, course, or certification that we pay for. Or it could be a book or a free resource.
When assessing skills-based support, take the time to be VERY clear on what skills you actually need and how they will move your business forward. Don’t fall into the trap of taking an expensive 12-month certification to chase a money-making opportunity when you could take a $50 pricing workshop and make more money immediately.
Also, remember, just because something costs a lot does not mean it’s better quality or will give you superior support.
Community is about fellowship and having things in common. Maybe it’s where you live, the type of business you run, your interests, or any number of items. In the online world, community has become a bit of a catch-all for “you’ve all paid for this thing, and I’m going to throw you in a Facebook Group.” That’s in no way a true community.
Community-based support for entrepreneurs is powerful, but you need to have a shared purpose, along with a commitment actually to support one another. One of my favorite things in the mastermind communities we run is seeing people genuinely invested in one another’s success and helping each other.
Community support for entrepreneurs can come in many forms, from masterminds to networking communities to social media to your business friends. The key is having that common connection and purpose, as well as an understanding of how you work together.
Finally, I want to talk about personal support as it often gets overlooked or is talked about in a way that’s completely privileged and infuriating.
I’m not talking about this flippant “hire help” or “outsource your life” type of BS we see on social media where people get all this help so they can hustle harder. What I’m talking about here is having the right structures in place on a personal level so that you have time to do your work and you’re able to run your business sustainably.
Personal support will look very different based on your stage of life and your individual and/or family needs. In the early days of my business, I needed the support of a house cleaner and daycare for my tiny human. Today, I need a therapist and health professionals to deal with my mind and body.
You may need something entirely different, and I want to emphasize that it doesn’t have to cost anything. It may be taking a walk with a friend or family member that you can talk to about your business or restructuring the schedule with your loved ones so you’re not working in the evenings.
Support Doesn’t Have to Be Spendy
Speaking of the cost of support for entrepreneurs, I want to touch on the fact that the online business world engages in some extremely problematic business practices designed to exploit our human need for support.
Celebrity entrepreneurs know many are lonely and want their businesses to work, so they take advantage. To reach their income goals, they design “solutions” that aren’t really about support at all. Then, they fail to deliver as promised. So it’s a double whammy where people pay large sums of money and are deeply disappointed.
I raise this issue as I want everyone to get the support they need when needed, but this isn’t the way. Support for entrepreneurs doesn’t have to be spendy, so please ensure you do your due diligence.
Size Up Your Support
As you look ahead to 2024 (or whatever is next for you), take some time to size up what your support looks like and where you may need new or different support moving ahead.
By taking a little time to review the following questions, you can be strategic and discerning about what support you need and when you need it.
Questions for you are:
- Who’s on my support squad? What else do I need?
- Where do I feel like I need an outside perspective?
- Do I have a community who’s got my back?
- Is there support in my personal life for my business?
- Are there skills or services I need to reach my goals?
Remember, when it comes to support, there’s no right or wrong answer. You get to choose what you need and how you need it.