Community Benefits for Founders
One of the things that we are told growing up is to choose the people around you wisely. The communities that you surround yourself with can shape your future and success. As entrepreneurs, we have a tendency to take on the world by ourselves. But there is much to benefit from when we look for support from like-minded individuals of business owners that make up our community.
Business communities are made up of people from who we can find inspiration, share ideas, ask questions, and share resources. An entrepreneur community can be found on an online platform such as Facebook or locally in the city that you reside in. Building these connections offer many benefits to help entrepreneurs, particularly those who are starting out become the business leaders of tomorrow.
Why you Should Join a Startup Community
Before you get the cool office space with the collaborative spaces, ping pong table, and beer on tap, you need to have the support entrepreneurs who have that growth mindset to help motivate and inspire you to keep innovating through changing times.
Investors, aspiring startup founders, developers, corporations, and students can learn and grow by joining an entrepreneurial community. Your time is valuable as you are growing your business. The business resources, feedback, and getting to learn from other successful business owners will be well worth it. Here are some of the key benefits that joining a coworking community brings to entrepreneurs:
Solicit Feedback on Passionate Individuals
Nothing fires up a business owner as much as coming up with a new and exciting idea. We’re driven to start going down that new direction, but may not always have all the right answers on how to get there.
Having a community of technology enthusiasts who are as passionate as you are a great opportunity to share your ideas. They can provide feedback and thoughts that will help refine your idea so that it is actionable in the world.
There are also interactions that happen between founders and interest groups like investors and corporations. That makes it a possible way to get your idea off the ground with funding.
Learn from the Mistakes of Others
Getting a sense of what’s going on with other people’s businesses can lead to a deeper understanding of what is happening in the business world. When you see the actions that others in the group are taking, it may give you ideas of what may also work for your business.
You may also be able to avoid some pitfalls by adapting the direction you’re taking with your own business by seeing what is happening to others. Entrepreneurs as a whole, tend to be truthful and open about what is going on with their business.
There are more failures than success tied to being an entrepreneur and the best ones arguably fail more often than others.
Pass on Valuable Knowledge or Find Mentors
One of the key functions of an entrepreneur community is to be a space for experienced professionals to pass on the knowledge they have gained to less experienced professionals. It is also a place where you can become a mentor or find a mentor.
Mentors can help mentees by providing advice when they need to make a big decision or guidance on the path they should take. Having a close tight-knit group of entrepreneurs that you are a part of is an invaluable asset.
Exchange Helpful Tips
Becoming an entrepreneur is an exciting journey, but the beginning is marked with a lot of unknowns. That’s why it is so helpful to have other people who have gone through this experience available to give you tips on how to navigate.
While you can find many great tips online or through books, being able to hear the experiences of others brings a different perspective. You may also have your own tips based on experiences that you have learned through starting your business that others may benefit from.
Fostering this exchange of tips of the trades can further build deeper relationships with people within this community.
Find the Right Business to Invest in
To be a viable business, you must consider what the future looks like and what type of business would fit. A founder network community will expose you to a portfolio of diverse industries including e-commerce, health care, logistics, and finance.
With this birds-eye view, you can evaluate which business is the best opportunity to showcase your passion. The added benefit of having investors as members of these communities is that those conversations can lead to a new, innovative business.
Make Strategic Partnerships with Corporations
Corporations have been getting more involved with startups in recent years. There are several benefits that corporations can gain from these relationships. The strategic partnerships between startups and corporations have been an effective method of skills and knowledge.
Not every startup is the right partner for a company, however. To adequately evaluate startups, corporations can use these startup communities to find mutually beneficial partnerships by finding these new business opportunities. These networking opportunities can lead to partnerships or allow both parties to learn new things.
Opportunity to Learn outside the Classroom
For students with an entrepreneurial spirit, a startup community gives them the chance to become immersed in a different type of learning. Students can learn the thinking processes and industry insights have that lead to emerging and established new businesses.
Interacting with a business community of founders will often be an inspiring experience that helps to shape them into the individuals they wish to be.
Learning about innovation and entrepreneurship is best done through gaining immersion into the real world. Students can grow and improve their presentation skills and become more effective at networking. These are the key skills that a future founder needs to become successful.
How to Build an Effective Startup Community
Entrepreneurs, community builders, government officiations, universities, investors, and other stakeholders have realized the benefits of a community of business leaders to foster innovation and positively affect economies. Since the gains of innovation is a continuous process, it requires a long-term approach.
Here are some of the key items that experienced entrepreneurs and other stakeholders like Brad Feld have identified as the critical success factors of a startup community:
Startup Ecosystem Makeup
To create an innovation ecosystem that allows for long-term communities of support and information sharing, taking a bottom-up approach is more effective. This runs contrary to how governments, corporations, and other large players typically run.
Entrepreneurs in more traditional businesses and local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a different model from an innovative startup. Defined by Steve Blank, a startup is an organization “formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model”.
That makes startups a subset of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Each ecosystem is self-governing, self-sustaining, and self-organizing. A startup community must be densely-connected, open, and have a trusting network because founders in startups don’t have as many resources available to them. That means they are more reliant on their external environments.
Startup entrepreneurs have their own unique mindsets and experiences which makes the best choice to lead these communities. It’s critical to have a balance when there are larger players involved in these ecosystems to not upset the viability of these communities.
There is a sense of camaraderie that is formed with successful entrepreneurial communities. An important aspect of communication and knowledge transfer in these communities is storytelling. This method fosters learning and may also spread through media channels.
Complex Adaptive Systems
These startup ecosystems are not linear, therefore the focus should be on interactions and taking a holistic approach. There is not a set formula or way to replicate each of these ecosystems and over time they will evolve differently.
Without a set model for creating these startup communities, the development of a successful system will entail learning, experimentation, and feedback. Startup communities should be influenced and guided, but not be controlled. This is particularly important for the government and corporate entities to understand.
Creativity must be encouraged in these complex systems through gaining synergies and allowing for self-organization. This has been the result that is best seen through how open source software has grown in recent years. This phenomenon is known as emergence. The effects of this occurrence are unpredictable and unexpected over time as there are new leaders that emerge.
Including successful and engaging entrepreneurs belonging to the community is also integral. When it comes to the network, it is quality over quantity of actors. These leaders can help drive collaboration and inclusion within these communities so that the next generation of startups is well-supported.
Large firms should steer away from becoming gatekeepers in these communities. They should also be open and receptive to feedback they may receive from entrepreneurs. The community must discourage cliques and factions within their ecosystems to form. Entrepreneurs are more prone to be resilient towards these groups and may even leave the community completely.
It can be useful to compare and benchmark the startup ecosystems in different cities. After all, there are many valuable lessons that can be learned through the success of Silicon Valley. However, cities must avoid trying to be the next “Silicon Valley” and instead look inward to find ways to improve themselves.
Core Principles and Values
Building an effective startup community that can be sustained over the long term must be supported with a set of key principles and values. Here are some that many successful startup communities have adopted:
- Good faith
- Having a sense of shared purpose
- Continuous activities
In particular, it takes some work to implement principles of diversity and inclusion within these communities. This is due to the fact that people are typically hardwired to have a distrust for those who are different.
The best ideas have often come from the most unexpected places, however. That’s why it is important for people of different races, genders, skills, origins, and fields to be embraced by these communities.
Everyone who is a part of a startup community has something to contribute and gain. Holding events and activities that encourage this positive-sum game is critical to building the right culture in the community.
Storytelling activities, community spaces, and collaboration opportunities will allow those within the group to bond and build bridges. Holding regular stimulating activities including hackathons, topical meetups, and demos is important to cultivate these entrepreneurial communities.
Finally, it is critical to have a long-term view of cultivating these startup ecosystems. Leaders must be committed to this approach to help ensure that it will sustain for years to come.
Startup Communities You Should Know
Do you lead the life of a nomad lifestyle? Or are you in a city that is too small to have a local community for entrepreneurs? An online community can also be a great resource to foster relationships. Even women and black entrepreneurs can find their communities in online communities through platforms like Facebook.
Here are some startup communities that you might consider while you live that digital nomad life.
If you’re looking for a community of makers and product lovers, Product Hunt might be up your alley. The main thing that you can do with Product Hunt is submit your products to their homepage. This enables the community to vote, comment, and rate them. This is a great way to get your new product out into the world before any marketing starts.
If you become their top product of the day, week, month, or year, that will earn you even more visibility on their page and a spot in their newsletter.
Product Hunt has a ton of active daily users which is great for when you’re planning to launch a product. It is one of the best online communities for tech product enthusiastic who wish to get some valuable feedback.
They also have a tool called Ship which is like a toolkit to help you launch products. For example, you can build a landing or come soon page that you can capture people’s email addresses from. After subscribing, you can send these people surveys, updates, etc.
Y Combinator Startup School Forum
This accelerator has a very active forum where you can get feedback, share your launch, and find early adopters for your product. The community is very supportive and has a high sense of camaraderie with one another since almost everyone is in the same boat.
Y Combinator Startup School Forum also runs an online 8-week course for founders. Called Startup School, you can post weekly check-ins and updates to help keep focused on your business. There are also group sessions with other founders that you can participate in.
/r/startups Reddit Group
This subreddit group caters more to sharing information than launching your product. /r/startups is a place to ask questions, discuss problems, and solutions. The community encourages people to learn and find inspiration from startup ventures.
To be a solid member of this community, expect to be able to hold a discussion and be able to explain your point of view in a way that benefits the entire group. There are high-quality discussions, with less spam or promotional ads. Moderators of this subreddit group ensure that useful information stays on top and does a great job of removing spam posts.
Check out our community-based program at M Accelerator.