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  • Writer's pictureKarleen L.

Build A Support Crew. Not an Entourage!

When I decided to build my brand and company, I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me. I was also from an immigrant family that saw earning a college degree and landing a fortune 500 job as the way to success. So as you can imagine, I did what anyone in my position would do. I didn't tell anyone but a core group of people about wanting to start my business. However, this was a job in itself.

One of my favorite Pastors, Michael Walrond Jr., Senior Pastor of First Corinthians Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, likes to remind the congregation every now and then that "not everyone will clap for you," and some of those people will be folks you call friends. However, no matter how strong you are, you need champions. So this is how I built mine.

In our lives, there are always people who see the things in us that we can't see. I am sure there have been friends who have told you to start your business. Engage them!

Join groups with other entrepreneurs and attend networking events for small business owners. Yes, you are there to network, but sometimes the benefit of meeting someone can be to find allies. They will be the people who can relate to your challenges and offer ways to navigate the anxiety of entrepreneurship.

Seek out your faith if you have a practice. Turning to an elder or a church member to confide in if you worship regularly can be helpful. However, I say it cautiously. Sometimes even our church family wants to protect and may naturally influence others to shy away from risk. Risk is a big part of entrepreneurship, so seek out someone who may be running a small business or working with someone who does. They will then naturally offer insight from a place of reference and experience.

A good three to five friends you can turn to is valuable. However, any more than that will make you feel obligated to prove success to an audience instead of having a cheering squad.

Stay away from "yes, men." Good friends, mentors, and champions should be able to tell you "no" or that they don't like an idea. They will never help you sharpen who you are if they can't. If you know someone afraid to hurt feelings and may not be honest with you, they should not be on your team.

Finally, when you do have your team, recognize their worth. Always thank them, and when possible, reward them for their time. It can be something as simple as a thank you text, email, or card.

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