Issue: September/October 2011
Make Connections to Make Progress
Entrepreneurship can get lonely. You’re spending night and day working to turn your idea into a company and sometimes it might seem like no one gets it. But there are people who do. Finding those individuals and building them into a network of support is critical to not just your sanity, but your startup business.
To grow a great company, entrepreneurs—especially first-timers—need help. Whether it’s an investor to inject cash into your business or a mentor to bounce ideas off of, a network of diverse connections and supporters can help you take your company out of the garage and into the market. Building an effective network takes time and effort. But there are steps you can take at every stage of your business to connect with the people who can keep you moving down the right path.
Start close to home. Friends and family members are often the first people entrepreneurs turn to for financial support. But it doesn’t have to start or stop there. Talk to every relative or acquaintance with business, technology, or entrepreneurial experience about your business. One of them might take an interest or know someone who would.
Get acquainted with your region. The entrepreneurial support system in Northeast Ohio isn’t the same as it was ten years ago. In fact, it isn’t the same as it was just one month ago. There are more pre-seed and seed funds, incubators, and advisers in Northeast Ohio than ever before. A great place to start learning about some of the resources available to entrepreneurs is the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network. The Network’s website gives entrepreneurs leading high growth companies access to a connected group of entrepreneurial support organizations.
Get out there. Many of the entrepreneurial support organizations in the region host networking events, educational seminars, and open houses. These are perfect outlets for you to introduce yourself to the entrepreneurial community and start meeting new people. The best way to learn about these events is through newsletters. Put your name on every fund, incubator and entrepreneurial support organization’s email list and you’ll stay on top of the entrepreneurial events in the region.
Start and then stay the course. It’s going to take a first move, probably on your part, to get a relationship going. Once you do make that connection, maintain it. Whether it’s an investor, mentor, peer, or potential partner, regular interaction and open communication are crucial. Set up recurrent face-to-face meetings, video chats, and conference calls. There are online tools you can use to maintain and facilitate these connections, and IdeaCrossing is one tailored to the specific needs of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs can register for free and set up a private Workspace that lets them engage with their connections virtually to incubate their business idea and advance their readiness for securing funding.
Building a network can be an intimidating task, but taking a first step doesn’t have to be. The region is full of entrepreneurs and people who support them. Get out and meet them.
This sponsored article is provided as a resource for entrepreneurs by JumpStart Inc.
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