One of the things I didn't fully expect when I started my own business was how isolating it can feel. I'm pretty introverted, so I didn't miss the 'water cooler chats' aspect of office life - but I did slowly find that I missed having other people who were emotionally invested in the success of projects I was working on - and who really understood the context I was working in.
Unless you're very lucky, friends and family are likely to glaze over when you try to discuss the details of a new business direction - and they're just not likely to have the background knowledge to be able to help you decide between different options.
Particularly working in the online world, it's very hard for those outside the arena to be able to offer useful advice.
Social media means that in some ways we're more connected than we've ever been, and yet so many of us feel lonely and isolated. We're hungry for depth and emotional connection. In my work I want to build a space for people to come together in real community and collaboration.
As a coach, I support people to make business decisions on a 1:1 basis, but in the process of running my first Mastermind group it was a revelation to see how much more support people can get from being in an intimate small group environment.
In the Mastermind, we meet all together once a fortnight for a group coaching session, but we're also connecting almost daily in the private group forum, throughout the twelve weeks we're in session. When someone has a big task for the day that they've been putting off for ages, they can post asking for accountability, knowing that people will check back in with them later in the day to see how it's gone.
Just knowing that other people know and care about what you're doing makes a huge difference, but actually having other real live small business owners to help you chew over a tricky decision is invaluable. Not to mention all the times someone can recommend a tool or app that will solve your problem, or steer you away from a course you were considering, or connect you with someone who can really help you.
Here's what some of the previous group members have to say about the community aspect:
"I would definitely recommend it to other heart-centred entrepreneurs. It's great that we all check in and support one another - it feels empowering and active."
"The small group aspect is lovely; I've learned so much just from hearing the others talking about their own businesses."
"The biggest challenge working on my own is the lack of stretch and perspective to my thinking. It's been great to hear new thoughts, fresh ideas and how other people handle their challenges.
Even when the business may be very different to mine, hearing someone else's thought process always seems to unlock a new way of thinking that I can apply to my own."
If you feel that this kind of group support would be helpful - and you like the idea of having a small group of like-minded people who are gradually getting to know your business really well to bounce ideas off - then you might be interested in finding out more about the new round of the Mastermind.
You never know, you might just make business friends who will be there by your side for the rest of your working life.