Back in 2010, after three decades of being a successful entrepreneur, I found myself searching for resources in entrepreneurial development that could help me fill in my business gaps. I knew what some of the gaps were - and I also knew that I didn’t know what I didn't know. I needed help.
Then one day, someone sent me a Facebook Friend request. After accepting I started receiving notifications of a local meetings for an entrepreneurial development community I had never heard of.
After a few months of ignoring the notifications, I suddenly felt compelled to attend one of the meetings.
At first I walked away thinking it was either a quantum breakthrough in entrepreneur development or it was the latest snake oil.
Fortunately, I keep an open mind and I found myself discovering something far more useful than snake oil. I found the tools I needed to fill in my business gaps (known and unknown)... and then some.
Over the years I've discovered seven elements that make the perfect entrepreneurial development community and I believe others could benefit from knowing what I've learned.
1 ALIGNED CORE VALUES
Find an organization that can help you hyper-grow from each stage of your business. Seek a place whose mission is not only to serve its community but to demonstrate that businesses can be highly profitable through effective collaboration instead of dysfunctional competition. (Which is totally in alignment with how I like to roll.)
2 HEART BASE TEAMS
Don’t just seek a skills development organization. Seek one that’s also 'heart-based' of like-minded entrepreneurs and experts who support one another as human beings and who are committed to creating success with others.
3 SELECTIVE MEMBERSHIP
An entrepreneur community is only as good as its members that are integrious, collaborative and successful. The best way to safeguard that kind of culture is through acquiring its members mostly by word of mouth and by encourage personal vetting of each prospect for suitability.
4 TRANSPARENT EDUCATION
Entrepreneurs fail because they don’t know what they don’t know and are unwilling to discover potential gaps. Seek a community that provides an industry-leading blend of full-spectrum entrepreneur knowledge & practical skills development.
5 EXPERT ADVISE
Knowledge and skills mean nothing if you don’t know how to apply them and what to watch out for. This is why it’s so important for entrepreneurs to be able to consult with experts in all aspects of business development. Select a community that provides unlimited access to the experts (speakers) as part of your membership.
6 KEY CONNECTIONS
So you’ve got knowledge, skills, and top-quality advising. But how are you going to make the contacts your business requires in each stage of its development? A top quality entrepreneur community revolves around collaborative networking processes.
Unfortunately typical trade shows don’t always provide this. Find a community whose networking approach can open virtually any door your business will need access to at each point in its development — not just the connections it needs today.
7 LIFETIME SUPPORT FOR EVOLVING GROWTH
A business isn’t built in a week or a month or a year. A lifetime membership type of set up (that meets multiple times a year) is one that’s continually there for you.
In other words, it serves you as your business continues to evolve from one developmental phase to the next; from concept through exit.
Entrepreneurs ordinarily stay with their business for anywhere between five years and the rest of their lives. And if they exit after only 5-10 years they most frequently go on to start another business. Therefore, anything less than lifetime membership is not an entrepreneur development organization or community, it’s an attend-and-forget-it event. If you’re serious about entrepreneurship, look for a lifetime membership organization.
The one I found was what I had secretly always wanted but had never believed existed.
With that said, I've come to the understanding that if one is serious about building a successful career as an entrepreneur they owe it to themselves to find an Entrepreneur Development Community that supports them 100% in accomplishing that goal.