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Capture Greatness! founder Melissa Rowe‘s column, Social Good and the Solopreneur, is dedicated to local change makers who are doing their part to make their corner of the world a better place. Melissa will discuss launching passion projects to build businesses on shoestring budgets and with a single-person army.
If you’ve just started a business or are bringing a passion project to life, it’s likely that you’ve worn out the ears of those closest to you.
The joy and excitement that you get from bringing on a new client or finally figuring out how to engage people on Twitter will probably not be the topic of conversation at Game Night. And that’s the problem. As entrepreneurs we never wear thin of discussing what’s working, how to get better, how to grow our business.
But who in the world are you going to talk to about it? The other insanely driven freaks who are commenting on your favorite blog? Well, yeah. But you want real, face-to-face friends who get you and entrepreneurship, too, right?
You don’t have to tell me how lonely it can get being in business for yourself. See, when we take the path less traveled there are, well, fewer people on that road. But don’t fret. I have some ideas on where you can start to build your own special community of people who get you and that thing driving you, too.
I bet you beat me to this conclusion, but I think it’s still worth mentioning. Philly is ripe with coworking spaces and sometimes it takes a little time and research to find the one best suited for you. Take a day or two and check out some of the local offerings. Each has its unique vibe and will attract a different demographic of entrepreneurs.
If signing up for a full-blown membership is out of your budget, ask about community access and guest passes, to offset the cost. Spaces like Turnkey and CultureWorks will offer you occasional access at a daily rate. On these flexible plans, you can even space hop and buy day passes at several coworking spaces to meet different people, more frequently.
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If you are considering joining a coworking space, make sure to check out their community events and benefits to members. Look at their events calendar and really get a feel for the type of people who work out of the space. Hey, if you have a friend with a membership, show up once a month for a “meeting” and get some work done in the presence of good company.
Small Business Development Centers
Guess who else is totally geeked about profits, client retention and social media strategies? Other entrepreneurs! Yes, and these folks tend to invest time and money in learning how to establish and grow businesses. So, where can you find them? At your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), of course. You might have a community brewing in a SBDC just waiting for you join them.
Both Temple and Penn operate SBDC’s to serve business owners in Philadelphia. These places are hubs of resources. You’ll find much more than your typical business plan writing class. These centers offer expert consultations, startup incubation services and events to connect you to lenders and investors.
Who knows, you can make some friends and get some dough, too.
Workshops and classes
Maybe you aren’t looking for something as formal as the SBDC. Philly offers a number of options for networking and business building that don’t demand extended time commitments.
Perhaps you’ll find your tribe in spaces like Entrepreneur Works, The Enterprise Center, or SCORE. These organizations support entrepreneurs in more a la carte ways and usually offer one-time workshops and flexible mentorship to help you as you grow.
To stay in the know, visit their websites and sign up for their newsletters. This way you won’t miss events and opportunities to network.
The local café
Sure, Starbucks is an option, but I was thinking that laid back chill zone around the corner from you. Granted – in your neighborhood, it might not be a cafe. It could be the vegetarian place or smoothie shop. The point is if you want to find a community of like-minded people, you want to be where they are.
Lucky for you, we all gotta eat and feed our caffeine addictions. Let’s capitalize on that! Some of my favorite little spaces around the city are Buzz Café in Kensington, iMunch Café in Brewerytown and Green Soul in Chestnut Hill.
So, pack up your laptop, find you some free Wi-Fi and slurp up a smoothie in the good company of your soon-to-be community.
Meetups and events
Let’s leave the beaten path for this last option. Community is, indeed, what we make it and sometimes you don’t need to be surrounded by a bunch of business-minded friends. That’s why I love scrolling through Meetup and Eventbrite to find groups and events that appeal to other facets of my life.
You love hiking? There’s a whole group of people waiting for you on the trail. Want to get people to critique your writing? They have folks who are more than happy to. You can use meetups and events to help you connect to people in your areas of expertise, to your ideal clients or to a healthy outlet to decompress.
Whatever you do, let your friends and family off the hook. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody, but there are plenty of people in Philly to help you create a vibrant community. Think outside the box a little, and see if you don’t find a group of friends in no time.-30-
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