For many entrepreneurs, running a small business can be a lonely experience, with nobody to share the ups and downs with, to bounce ideas off or to just chat with. Studies have linked loneliness to physical and mental health issues, so it’s important for entrepreneurs to build a strong support network. Listed below are some of the support options that are readily available for small business owners.

 Online groups

There are online groups out there for every type of interest, so it shouldn’t take long to find the right one for you. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook all provide platforms for online support groups, which can be great for sharing tips and tricks, training webinars or just having a sounding board. For business owners in the Co. Louth area, Twitter’s #LouthChat (each Tuesday from 8-9pm) offers a fantastic community for local networking, support and promotion.

Networking groups

Find a networking group that fits into your schedule. You may choose a networking group based on the industry in which you work, your locality, or other shared interest. Many entrepreneurs are members of several networking groups that meet different needs. This can be a great way of building relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs and developing business leads and referrals.   

Sub-contractors

Surround yourself with a trusted team of sub-contractors e.g. accountant, lawyer, web developer, virtual assistant and other professionals who can offer their expertise and work in partnership with your business. Working with sub-contractors gives you access to expertise without the commitment of employing people directly in these roles.

Mentors

Find a mentor who has already walked a similar path to you. They will have faced many of the same challenges you face and will be able to advise you on how best to handle them. Many networking groups offer mentoring services, as will your Local Enterprise Office.

Family and friends

Last, but certainly not least, are your family and friends. More than anyone else, they know the sacrifices you have made for your business and they understand your motivation. Make time for your family and friends – they will be your unconditional support network when you need it most!