Two years after launching my consulting business, I had doubled growth and built multiple high-exposure brand partnerships. This was a bittersweet moment for me. Professionally, I had achieved many of my goals — but it was to the detriment of my physical, mental, and, at times, emotional well-being. Hardly anyone noticed.
No one sent flowers. And that’s OK.
Entrepreneurs often struggle to keep going without the support of family and friends, but I always tell them this: Friends and family don’t pay your bills, and people who don’t share your career ambition or background simply may not understand what you’re doing. I once obsessed over who did (or didn’t) read my book, or who supported me on social media, and then realized I was just spending mental capacity on something that would never yield tangible results for my business. The only thing I really needed to worry about was my business, so I put my head down and started strategizing.
Here’s the most important thing I realized: To succeed, an entrepreneur must learn where their target audience lives — and then move towards them. Your delighted customers will support you, and so will many of the entrepreneurs you meet and collaborate with. So I started formulating very specific partnerships and collaborations. I poured every ounce of myself into my consulting engagements. My business grew as a result. Many of my family and friends didn’t notice, but I no longer cared.
So, what can you do to get the support you need to grow? Focus on these three areas.
1. Build your reputation
To grow your business, the right people need to trust your ethics and standards. Treat every client, regardless of size, like they are the most important in your portfolio. Treat every business partner with respect. This is how you build retention and long-term engagements.
Consider this: If you mistreat a key partner who then slows down or holds back their services, how will that impact your business and, in turn, your customers? When everyone feels supported by you, they support you in return — and enable you to build a reputation that drives referrals. Client testimonials carry significant weight over your best friend or mom and dad. Aim for these.
2. Network in like-minded communities
Go where you are understood and where your conversations add real value. That will look and feel different to everyone, but you can start by filtering every social and professional setting through this question: Is there a mutual exchange of value here? Are you feeling and providing support? And are you teaching and learning?
This also helps you recognize what you can get from each setting. Friends and family may be able to provide a morale boost, but you’ll need a different crew to help you with business advice. Seek out organizations online and in person that can help you find answers, get support, connect with the right people, and grow.
3. Support and validate yourself
You don’t need other people for validation; you can validate yourself. But it requires pausing to reflect. Many entrepreneurs ignore their small victories because they’re too focused on the big ones. That’s a mistake, and it can rob you of well-deserved mental breaks.
The path to success is based on many small milestones. They are worth celebrating. When you do this, you will recognize that you are succeeding and creating your pathway to success — because it is the journey, not the destination, that builds us.
Ultimately, you are the only one who knows what it takes to get where you are. The world’s most successful entrepreneurs don’t sit around worrying about why people aren’t patting them on the back. They’re out there working hard and finding motivation in the right places.