Going through the entrepreneurial journey alone is no easy task. Chasing your passions and running your own business while fulfilling comes with his own set of challenges. Women entrepreneurs have to overcome many social, cultural, financial barriers and find that ‘lonely at the top’ syndrome is real. One way to overcome this is to find a network of peers that understand the difficulties of starting one’s own business and can support you with ongoing growth. Being part of the right organization can lead to new relationships and connections, partnerships, business ideas and even new clients and customers.

Benefits Of Joining Support Organizations

1. Business Referrals

Entrepreneur support groups attract like-minded people and give you great opportunities to pitch your business to a diverse group of people. Having the support of the network increases trust and you can be referred by people you meet during the meetings to the right set of clients. This is especially beneficial to businesses in the B2B sector and can be the right place to find new customers.

2. Networking

Today’s consumers trust recommendations from their network rather than paid advertising. These organizations help you develop your network and build relationships with potential customers. It also helps you make new connections with potential vendors who can be verified as genuine before entering any business contract with. The network can help you find the right type of suppliers and at the same time provide an audience for your product.

3. Skill-Building & Leadership

As an entrepreneur, one knows that learning new skills is a lifelong journey. These groups can help you develop your core skills required in business, like public speaking, sales, and other professional skills. This can be an opportunity to gather resources to build your business and networking skills. Also, certain organizations host panels and conferences where you can hear industry greats discuss their journey and learn many business lessons from them. You may also find industry mentors who can guide and support you in your entrepreneurial journey. Connect with experts, mentors, and Influencers who can support your professional and entrepreneurial aspirations and engage with members with your interest or domain expertise at any organization chapter around the world.

4. Forum Discussions

These support groups can not only help with your professional life but also your personal life. Managing a business can sometimes put a strain on your relationships, health, and cause personal issues. They offer a format where the complex intersections between your business, personal life and community engagement can all be addressed head-on so that you can achieve fulfilment in all of your endeavours. They foster peer-to-peer sharing between members in a trusted and confidential environment.

5. Events

As a member, you’re invited to attend one-of-a-kind chapter events built around learning and engagement held in your city on a regular basis. You are also invited to regional and global events that provide unique resources, learning opportunities, and a chance to socialize with a broader business community. This helps you manage your mental health and ask for support from people who have been through the journey before you.

5 Support Groups For Entrepreneurs

1. BNI

BNI stands for Business Network International. It was founded in 1985 and currently has more than 2,70,000+ members across 74 countries in the world. The mission of BNI is to help members increase their business through a structured referral marketing program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. It is very easy to become a part of the BNI organization. Start by finding a local BNI chapter online and choose to attend their next meeting. There you will be given a chance to introduce yourself and the business and meet the other members. If you believe it’s a right fit for you, you can fill an application form and go through an interview with the membership committee. 

2. Startup Grind

Startup Grind is the world’s largest community of startups, founders, innovators, and creators. They host local events, flagship conferences, startup programs, partnerships, and online media and content which collectively reaches over 3.5 million individuals worldwide. This is a great platform uniquely suited for early-stage tech startups and investors. To join Startup Grind, you need to fill an application form online and you will receive a reply within 2-3 business days. Selection of your application is based on a number of factors, such as founding team experience and expertise, product, market size and timing, unique differentiators and GTM strategy among other things. A few of the benefits of joining Startup Grind include direct introduction opportunities to top investors and partners, free access to Startup Summit (their annual global conference), weekly members-only virtual workshops, keynotes, and discussions from leading experts, mentorship programs, and brand promotion opportunities to Startup Grind’s 1.2M+ audience.

3. TiE

TiE Global is a nonprofit organization devoted to entrepreneurs in all industries, at all stages, from incubation, throughout the entrepreneurial life cycle. With a global reach and a local focus, the heart of TiE efforts lies in its five foundational programs, – Mentoring, Networking, Education, Funding, and Incubation. There are currently 15,000 members in 61 chapters across 14 countries. TiE also has a subsidiary organization dedicated solely to women entrepreneurs. Becoming a TiE member is very simple and involves paying a membership fee of USD 1500 for a charter member and USD 150 for becoming a member. They hold pitch competitions and organize various events for startups to access learning and investments.

4. Entrepreneur’s Organization

Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a high-quality support network of 14,000+ like-minded leaders across 61 countries. We help entrepreneurs achieve their full potential through the power of life-enhancing connections, shared experiences and collaborative learning. Along with structured educational content focused on the​ core areas of first-stage businesses, the Accelerator programme by EO affords you the unique experience of learning from and connecting with other members. They also have a separate program for student entrepreneurs. To join the organization, one must be the owner, founder or majority stakeholder of a business earning a minimum of US$1 million in revenue during the most recent fiscal year. Venture-backed companies must have either privately-raised funds of at least US$2 million or publicly-raised funds of US$5 million and a minimum of 10 employees. Once you submit an application to a local chapter, you will be interviewed and pay the membership fees before undergoing an orientation program.

5. Young Entrepreneur Council

As the name suggests, YEC is specifically for young founders. To apply, one must be 45 years old or younger and the founder, co-founder, owner or co-owner of a company, and your company has either generated or raised funding at least $1M in annual revenue and submit an application form. Member benefits include building your personal brand through media exposure, revenue and leadership growth through expert coaching, and partnership benefits from other firms.

These organizations support you in your business endeavours through coaching and networking opportunities along with helping you find friends whom you can confide in and discuss the challenges of running a solo business. As women, finding support in the business community can help better prepare you for the challenges that lie ahead and make it less lonely.