Ep 67: How to Build Community With Your Business
February 19, 2019 - 59:38
A few months ago, I read a very interesting article in The Washington Post about a researcher who studied 400,000 knitters. She was learning about my favorite topic: how these women turned their hobby of knitting into a business. She discovered an interesting phenomenon that I’ve actually witnessed for years now through Business Boutique.
Before I launched Business Boutique, I conducted my own research on women with businesses. I noticed an interesting theme: When it comes to turning your hobby into a business, a sense of community plays a key role in women doing it scared. When we have camaraderie and support, when we can lock arms with other women and do it together, we’re more likely to launch the business we’ve been dreaming about.
When it comes to turning your hobby into a business, a sense of community plays a key role in women doing it scared.
This woman’s research reiterated that reality. From the 403,168 individual knitters she studied from 2007 to 2014, the ones who joined a group to craft socially were 25% more likely to start a business.(1) When asked what it was that transformed these women from pattern makers to pattern sellers, the most common answer was that someone they knew had encouraged them to sell their work: Many had already been modifying patterns and designing their own yarn gnomes and cat costumes, but until they heard from others, they lacked the confidence to step out on their own.(2)
I was blown away by this. Not because I had never heard of this phenomenon before (my own research proved it), but because this principle of needing community is still true in a specific industry like knitting and on a massive scale like a study of 400,000 people. There’s no doubt that entrepreneurship can be intimidating and lonely.
But that’s where the power of building community comes in.
I see this every single year at our Business Boutique events. When you bring 3,000 women together from all over the country who work in all types of industries and are in different stages of business, there is a special bond created. Here’s what happens: These women walk into the room with all kinds of feelings, fears and questions about their businesses, and they think they’re the only ones who feel that way.
But once they hear the speakers on stage and connect with other women struggling with the same things, they realize, I’m not so crazy after all. Community opens our eyes to the truth, gives us the confidence and support we need to take the next step, and cultivates a place to belong. It’s everything we need to stop letting fear hold us back from making our dreams a reality.
The Three Types of Community You Need
No matter what stage of business you’re in, if you don’t have a community around you, I want you to make building one or getting into one a top priority this month. You should be a part of three different types of communities:
1. People in Your Shoes
This means people walking in the same shoes as you are or those in the same type of industry or business you’re in. When you come together, you feel a unique connection that you wouldn’t feel with someone in a completely different business. This will be your network of people who understand exactly what it’s like to do what you do.
When you get together to knowledge-share with this group, you exchange very specific advice on things like:
- handling difficult customers
- best practices, policies to protect yourself and vendor recommendations
- marketing strategies specific to your target market
- managing the seasonality of your business
2. People in Other Shoes
This is a group of people who have different perspectives from you because they work in different industries. It is so beneficial to have this community, because oftentimes, we get too close to our business. We can get so deep in the weeds that we truly can’t see the forest for the trees.
But when you seek support from those completely outside your business, they bring in a fresh pair of eyes and diverse ideas. It’s hard to get out of the mindset that the way you’ve been doing things is the only way to do them. When you bring in an outsider, they’re able to step in without the blinders or boundaries that typically constrain you. They help get you off the ground to get a wider and higher view of your business.
3. People You Serve
You need community for your personal and professional development. Well, the same is true for your customers. If you want them to feel connected with each other and with you, build a community where they can do so.
A few years ago, we started a Business Boutique Facebook group. And with almost no effort from me—I don’t post content or do any Facebook lives there—it blew up. We continue to get hundreds of new members, because women want to feel surrounded by other women with a similar mission. They want a place to ask for advice, share their elevator pitch, and simply feel heard. I don’t even have to maintain this Facebook group, because the power of community is in the community.
We have another Facebook community for the Business Boutique Academy. I jump in that group a lot for Facebook live videos and coaching sessions. It has created a different level of community because these women, as members of the Academy, are on the same track. They’re learning the same curriculum, working on the same homework, and receiving training on the same days. They’re able to take all of that to the next level by showing off their work and getting feedback from one another.
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Most small business aren’t started because people have a deep love for business. Most small business owners, when asked why they started, answer, “I had always loved…” “I had always loved sewing.” “I had always loved baking.” “I had always loved design.” “I had always loved piano.” “I had always loved gardening.” “I had always loved math and numbers.” “I had always loved kids.” “I had always loved building.” “I had always loved . . .” What you do day in and day out, is deeply personal. Your business is about making money, sure. But more importantly, in many cases, your business is about doing what you love. Happy #SmallBusinessSaturday to each and every one of you out there today making money doing what you love. You were made to do this. Keep going! The world needs what you have to offer!
I do want to warn you about something that will come up when you create a community for your customers. You will likely experience some fear that, by creating it and connecting them with each other, there won’t be a need for you anymore. While this is a normal thought, it is simply not true. That’s the scarcity mentality that is so detrimental to business.
You are the initiator that introduced them to one another—the glue that keeps them together—so they will be that much more grateful to you for creating a place for their new community to thrive. Do what’s best for your customers. When you stop treating your customers only as individual transactions or one-on-one relationships, you create a movement. And a movement is what creates momentum, loyal customers and a community of people who rally around something.
Building a community is one of my favorite topics to talk about, because I truly believe it’s the difference between winning in business and giving up too soon. This is why we created the Business Boutique Academy, my online business training group where I get in your business with you. In the Academy, I teach on a new topic weekly, host a live coaching session monthly, and connect you with other like-minded women who are winning in business.
Building a Community from the Ground Up with Natalie Franke
Natalie Franke started a wedding photography business when she was in college. While it quickly became successful in her local market, she felt lonely in the world of entrepreneurship. She was craving a sense of community. But when she sought it out, she couldn’t find one that fit her values of camaraderie and support. So, she took matters into her own hands and set out to create a place for creative entrepreneurs to gather.
Natalie now leads the Rising Tide Society. She started this community by gathering creatives in her hometown of Annapolis, Maryland. Within months, the groups were spreading like wildfire around the country. Today, Rising Tide meetups happen across 400 cities around the world!
It’s no wonder these groups have become so popular. Community is desperately needed in our world of business. Humans find fulfillment and thrive the most in relationships, and it’s no different in business. Entrepreneurship is a team sport.
In this episode, Natalie and I talk about:
- having a student mindset in business
- why small business owners have to be in a community and where to find it
- getting rid of the scarcity mentality and moving into one of abundance
- the right way to handle competition
- how to build a community within your specific industry
Don’t Be Anyone Else But You
Several years ago, when I was first named a personality for Ramsey Solutions, I had a consultation with a professional stylist. She was there to teach me how to look good on stage and on video. I’ll never forget the pictures she showed me on her phone. They were images of women she thought should be my inspiration. Every single photo was of a stiff, rigid, news anchor-looking woman with a bob and a navy suit. She kept telling me, “This is so you!” While I kept thinking, You’re so wrong.
She wanted me to dress and look like a woman who was nothing like me. In that moment, I had to make a decision: Either I was going to lean into what this professional stylist thought I should look like, or I was going to lean into what I thought I should look like.
Related: How to Be More Confident
Friends, you have to make the same decision when others invade your life to tell you “the right way” of doing things. You have to teach yourself to lean into what makes you you. That decision is up to you, but I want you to know there is no one in the world like you. No one can do what you can do the way you do it.
I want to encourage you to love and embrace your unique qualities, because that is what God is going to use in you. So what are the things that make you you? I dare you to lean into them. Let your weird flag fly.
On today’s segment, we talk about:
- how to get your customers to stick with you when you change your product offerings
- how to get your products in stores
- what to do during your slow seasons in business
If you have a question, give me a call on my toll-free line at 844.944.1074. You might hear your question on a future episode!
1:23 How to Build Community With Your Business
14:46 Building a Community From the Ground Up With Natalie Franke
45:19 Encouragement: Don’t Be Anyone Else But You
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