Here are 20 online and in-person groups to help you make friends, learn about your industry, and feel less alone
by brittany taylor | November 24, 2017
Running a business feels very isolating. When you take yourself out of a corporate environment, with its cube farms and break rooms and coworker gossip, and put yourself in a home office or a bedroom or a coffee shop, it feels like you’ve lost something.
And you know what? It’s not just the boss or the 9-to-5 hours you’re missing. It’s the camaraderie. It’s having someone to turn to when you have a question or a problem. It’s having someone to tell you what to do when you’re lost.
Running a business is hard, but don’t think for a second that you are in it alone. The truth is, there are thousands of us standing there with you, terrified and isolated and wondering if we’ve made a huge mistake.
The first thing you need to know about running a business is that you might feel alone, but you aren’t. We bosses are everywhere, and we want to share. That’s what this post is all about: stepping out of isolation and into the online business owner community—and mining the collective knowledge of your peers to run your business better.
This is me, sending you hugs. No matter how long you’ve been in the game, it’s tough. I know. But it’s about to get easier.
Find a community of business owners you click with
The turning point for me between when I was “just freelancing” and when I began to buckle down and take my business seriously was the moment I stumbled into my first creative entrepreneur Facebook group.
Seeing people with different backgrounds and ambitions in the same place of know-nothingness that I inhabited was…freeing. Encouraging. Uplifting. It made me realize that we were in it together and that, unlike the corporate environments I’d experienced so far in my life, we could work together to build incredible things without cattiness and competition.
I’m a solopreneur running a business of one, but I couldn’t do it without my boss friends on the internet. They save me and push me every single day. I want that for you, too. Here’s where to find your own community of business owners:
I’ve joined (and left) a bunch of online groups. There are a handful I’ve stuck with over the years, and I’m so grateful to their creators and administrators for making them the vibrant, encouraging places they are today.
New Facebook groups for online business owners are cropping up every day. If you’re not happy with the groups you’re a part of, join a new one. Stick around for a few weeks, take note of the types of conversations that are occurring and the people who are active. See if it’s a place that makes sense for where you are and what you need. If it is, start contributing. If it’s not, find something new.
What I love about Instagram is how so many bosses are turning to the platform to take their followers behind-the-scenes of their businesses. They’re opening up, sharing emotional low-points and mistakes they’ve made. You know I love a story, and this is the place for storytelling. Often, interactions here can feel more one-on-one, which makes it a great place to start if you’re feeling shy about speaking up in larger groups.
Some people don’t like the idea of “paying for friends.” Truthfully, though, I think that’s hogwash. Whenever I join a paid group, I find the members are more committed to being active in the community because they’ve invested money in order to be there. And often, you get bonuses, whether that’s one-on-one calls with the group facilitator, exclusive content, or early access to new products.
Prefer face time to messaging? Depending on where you live, you might just be in luck. Some cities and small towns are meccas for creative entrepreneurs. Even if none of these groups are in your area, you’re not screwed. Get to know local small business owners or search online using location tags to find bosses near you who might be willing to form a community.