Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey if travelled alone. You can’t share every challenge with your team, your friends and family might not understand, and your own mind plays tricks on you in an attempt to keep you safe. But thriving in business requires being supported. Cheerleaders, a hype squad, people who remind you that you’re brilliant when you have forgotten. The presence of these people can mark the difference between roaring success and disappointing failure. So what’s the solution?
Jadah Sellner is an author and business coach on a mission to help people build businesses sustainably and live intentionally. In order to do this, she said, “you need a support squad.” As host of the Lead with Love podcast and author of upcoming book, She Builds: the anti-hustle guide to grow your business and nourish your life, Sellner is sharing the tips and tactics to find and build your squad, including those she has implemented in her own business.
According to Sellner, your support squad is, “a group of people you can count on to keep you motivated, focused, and accountable, who will provide support on both an emotional level and a soul level as you build your businesses and life.”
Here are the three categories of your support squad members and how to find them.
1. Peers and colleagues
Peers and colleagues represent the first pillar of your support squad tripod. Sellner wants you to ask, “Do I have peers in similar stages of business and life to lean on for support?” If the answer is no, find them. Sellner’s lead sparring buddy is fellow entrepreneur Tamika Lewis. “We schedule a phone meeting for an hour every Tuesday evening after our kids are asleep. We spend five minutes catching up, then we share what we are working on, brainstorm ideas, and identify the next steps we will take before our next call.”
During the calls, Lewis and Sellner share resources and time-saving tools. They encourage each other to keep going. “We not only give each other advice to overcome resistance, we also deepen our friendship.” Sellner believes that building a support system is more than having someone to help you complete your tasks, it’s about, “having trusted friends who will listen and offer advice when you’re in the trenches.”
Book in regular calls with purpose with one trusted person. Or, advised Sellner, “create your mastermind group.” Here you decide who will be in the group, invite them in, decide where you will connect and how you’ll meet, and structure meetings so that everyone can air challenges and receive guidance. Commit to regular meetings to feel supported and watch your business thrive.
2. Mentors and advisors
Your peers and colleagues may act as informal mentors, sharing specific strategies you can implement, but intentional mentorship forms a separate part of your support squad formation. “As entrepreneurs, we often need to close the gap in our knowledge quickly,” said Sellner, who defines a mentor as, “an experienced and trusted person who believes in you and your vision, especially when self-doubt creeps in.” Not only do they help steer you back on track, but “they can share valuable resources with you and make suggestions for strategies you might not come up with on your own.”
Alignment is key here. “If you’re not gaining traction in your business, it could mean you haven’t yet found a teacher who resonates with you.” Following advice you don’t believe in won’t lead to you taking inspired action. Your mentors and advisors should have a track record of work that, “aligns with your personal and professional values.” They will guide according to those references.
Do you have a mentor and coach to guide and advise you on business strategy? If not, seek them out. Ask for recommendations, search the internet and see who echoes your mission. Make your list of dream mentors and ask if they’d be open to giving you a second opinion. Sellner says don’t be shy. “Putting yourself out there may feel awkward at first, but it is so important and will lead you to some surprising opportunities.”
3. Coaches and therapists
The rollercoaster of entrepreneurship can be felt within a single day, let alone over an entire career. “On any given day we can experience emotions from excitement, pride, hope, and confidence to disappointment, fear, anxiety, and frustration,” said Sellner. That’s a lot to work through. “We are forced to examine our triggers and cultivate greater self-awareness because running a business is the ultimate test of personal growth.”
Sellner recommends you have, “a life coach and therapist who support your emotional and mental wellbeing.” The purpose of these people is to, “create a safe space in which to explore what is going on emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually.” They help identify how these issues may be affecting our professional success.
“Therapists are licensed and regulated and can diagnose and treat mental health conditions,” said Sellner. “Life coaches are specialists who facilitate skilled questioning and strategic planning, including reframing your beliefs, helping you get unstuck, and holding you accountable.” She said a life coach is most effective if you are, “looking for practical business and career-building strategies that will help you make progress toward your goals,” but believes that “all the business strategies in the world will not work if there are emotional blocks in your path.” Address the blocks to move forward with ease and grace.
How to build your support squad
“Entrepreneurship brings up some emotional stuff, and we need support, tools, and strategies to move through times of uncertainty and stress,” concluded Sellner. By enlisting the support of peers, mentors, and coaches, you will have your community assembled and be ready to soar.
Building your support squad is simple: ask the question. If you don’t ask, your ideal members don’t know you need them. Sellner’s final guidance is to not take rejection personally. “Many people will not respond,” she said. “This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their commitments and priorities. Take rejection as redirection. Trust that the right connections at the right time will grow into something deeper.” Lay the groundwork by asking the questions and patiently wait to see where they lead.