By Trevor Shorte
There’s an old African proverb that says “It takes a village to raise a child” which means that a child is better off when the entire community plays a part in raising and teaching it. The same thing can be said of creating and building your startup. The beginning of a business can be the equivalent of birthing a child!
It can be quite overwhelming for many entrepreneurs when they are just starting out. Having a place where they can go and get help with some of the challenges that they are facing is vital to their success. In most cities and towns, you can find a local group of founders and entrepreneurs who are all looking to get ahead. Enter Startup Communities. So, what exactly is a Startup Community? It’s literally what you think it might be. It’s a community of like-minded entrepreneurs coming together to provide advice, give support, and help educate each other. Typically, they have activities like regular meetups or host learning workshops and seminars. They have a library of educational resources, and highly engaged social channels, all with one goal in mind; To create a network that can help a founder on their entrepreneurial journey.
What benefits do Startup Communities offer?
An Opportunity to Learn from Other Entrepreneurs
Regardless of the type of challenges you are having with your business, more than likely there are others in the community who have had a similar experience and found a way to address it. From idea validation and product development, all the way to managing finances and hiring strategies, somebody has “been there, done that” and can help guide you through it. By tapping into this wealth of knowledge, you can learn how to solve the challenge you’ve got, or even discover some that you had not thought of yet.
Expand Your Business with Strategic Partnerships
I have talked about this before, but when you are part of a Startup Community, there’s a good chance that you could find another business that markets complementary products or services to the same target audience as you. Finding a way to work together to share leads, or cross promote your businesses, can increase your brand awareness and boost your sales.
Identify Sources of Potential Funding
One of the things that a lot of entrepreneurs are challenged with is figuring out how they are going to find the money to build and run their business. Startup Communities are a gold mine for you to find out about potential investors who you can talk to about your business. These investors are sometimes members of the community and often sponsor things like Pitch Events where they will hand out prize money for the entrepreneurs with the best business pitch.
Build Your Personal Support Network (and maintain your mental health!)
When you become an entrepreneur, it can feel like it is a long and lonely road. You will find that it can be one of the hardest jobs that you will ever have. But can also be the most rewarding. Having a network of other entrepreneurs that you can lean on to help you through those hard times and give you encouragement can make a huge impact not only on the success of your business but your mental health too.
In Ontario, some great startup communities that you can look at are:
Startup communities exist to help entrepreneurs succeed. When you become part of one and find your village, it can accelerate your business to heights that you can only imagine. Have you had a great experience with a startup community? Tell us in the comments!