“You know what’s fire? Cultivating relationships with people who genuinely want to see you win and pouring that same type of love back into them. Building community with the right people.”Michell C Clark
The most confident I ever was in my idea, my business plan and myself was the day I left my corporate job to work on Ama La Vida full time. I was convinced that the world needed what ALV was providing and that I was scrappy and stubborn enough to build it into a successful business.
Every day since, I’ve doubted myself.
I’ve doubted my ability to steer this ship. I’ve questioned why people would want to work for ALV. I’ve worried if we would make it financially. At times I’ve even gotten so lost in the nuance and slog of the day-to-day that I’ve forgotten why we were doing this in the first place.
Building a business is a ridiculously difficult undertaking. I don’t care how experienced you are or how well-funded you are. It can feel like a constant battle, and it’s easy to get lost in your own mind.
What brings me back to a place of clarity, sanity and optimism is almost never the numbers on the page or the dollars in the bank. It’s the people around me. What’s even gotten the numbers on the page and the dollars in the bank in the first place is not the brilliant business plan I wrote. It’s the people around me.
In addition to having the good fortune of an amazing co-founder, I’m surrounded by other smart, caring and generous humans. My group text with some of my closest girlfriends is filled not only with “I believe in you’s” but also with “I’m recruiting for this role. Know anyone’s?” and “I’m struggling to get this deal closed. What advice do you have for this meeting’s?” It’s these ladies that give me the willpower to keep going when it all feels too much.
From legal to sales to PR, I’ve had friends donate time, energy and connections to help get ALV off the ground and continue to grow. When I’ve needed a creative approach to recruiting or a new software to fill a gap, it’s people in my network who have given me answers, solutions and resources. When I’m having one of those – why the heck did I even do this days – it’s other founders who lift me back up and encourage me to stay the course.
Networking can feel like a chore. No one hates small talk and awkward exchanges more than I do. But building friendships, alliances and your community is anything but awkward… it’s life-giving. It’s not just an extracurricular activity to do when you have time. It *is* your job.
My network (or honestly I prefer to just call them my friends) has given me more answers than Google, more leads than ads and more motivation than any quote on the wall. It’s the people who know us, love us and want us to success that will help ensure it is so. So when you’re ruthlessly trying to decide how to prioritize the bazillion possible things you as a founder can do with your time today, make sure connecting with friends, old and new, is at the top of the list.
And the upcoming Founding Females event featuring Disha Gulati, of Here Here Market, will be a perfect opportunity to not only get your questions answered, but be in community with other entrepreneurs and grow your network. Be sure to join us!