Do I need a Support Network?

I love the idea of an advisory group - I usually populate mine with friends I know who have experienced far more than I have in running their business as an entrepreneur.

Simply, they are a group of individuals who provide advice and help my company succeed. I want to make it rather clear that I am not talking about a formal Board of Advisors.

These advisors have skill sets in areas that fill a void within my company. A lawyer to help with legal matters, another entrepreneur for giving advice on scaling up, another experienced in being prepared when it is time to exit and an industry specialist - for me that would or could be an architect. I am looking at them for their depth of knowledge, partnership development and/or an investor for fundraising advice.

This reminds me that my focus needs to be on relationships.

No matter the niche I come across, I am learning that most successful investors, when they are able to make lasting connections, make deals. The connections are genuine attempts to get to know what each other wants out of their business and how they can help each other achieve it. I know it sounds simple and yet I am amazed that this does not happen enough. I am sure there are many in my field who can close a deal, but to build a real estate investment development company there needs to be a focus on relationships.

Why is a support network important?

In our world of real estate investment development, it is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal. In fact, it is the number one criteria when choosing a CRM to manage those relationships. Connecting with investors to create beneficial partnerships, new experiences, guidance, support and valuable business relationships matter.

As entrepreneurs we travel on a lonely road.

When I first started out as an entrepreneur, I never considered loneliness. Entrepreneurship was going to be an energizing experience, right? While there are definitely joys of entrepreneurship, there are also significant challenges.

Most individuals do not understand what we are going through. Whether that involves a business decision or an acquisition decision or even considering that payroll will not be met on Monday.

What is a social support network?

It is simply made up of friends, family and peers. It has been described as being made up of different layers. Each layer has a different view and speaks into your life differently. It is key to understand the difference between information and knowledge. This is important because a lot of people are going to want to speak into your life. While Google may provide all the information I need to perform heart surgery, only a specialist has the knowledge to actually do it. Those are the ones I want in my life - who know how to walk the journey I am on and to walk with me.

Is it hard to connect with someone who has life experience as an entrepreneur?

The entrepreneur mindset is a critical element for success in real estate. It requires a persistent drive and mentality to never stop learning. This mindset is just as important as taking action. When I consider the hundreds of thousands of people who set out to start a business, almost 40% of them will fail in the first year and double that in the next five years. Too many fail to reach their full potential.

So when it comes to connecting, there are a lot of people who think they can be the one, but I need to be very selective about who to allow or who should be able to speak into my life. There are so many that believe, as an entrepreneur, you have bags of money. They do not know what it takes to get to that place. The individuals that I will allow to speak into my life have to add value to what I am doing. I think it is fair to say that you are who you associate with.

It sounds like it would take some very deliberate steps to find someone who could understand what you are going through?

If you are starting a company, you have a limited network and you welcome everyone. As you become a bit more established, that is the time to get selective. Maybe consider five individuals that could be invited into your space. Discernment is required.

How do you navigate - work your way through this?

Have people close to you give you advice. A discerning spouse is very helpful. You need someone because you will see one side of the cube and need another to assist understanding the other sides.

Time is a factor in understanding character. There will be times that you have made the wrong decision. Those need to be reversed. A closer look might be necessary for the next person you hold confidence in.

There will be times where you will need someone to help you and you have no way of returning that favour. That is not something to fret about. When I become older, more established, I can take someone under my wing where I can give into another’s life without expecting a return. If I should be so driven with my vision not to have time to give into another’s life, I may want to take another look around to see if there is someone asking for help. Note: If you run into someone who doesn't understand boundaries, we need to make sure they are clear. Be open and share what they need to know but also make sure that respect is there when it comes to time.

No one can build a great business alone and having access to high-quality advice can enhance the odds of success. Looking for advice from consultants or within your own networks are great ways to do so.

Increasingly, attention is being given to advisory boards. Participation on an advisory board is a great way to give back. Even then, you may find their value system not the same as yours. Changes might still have to be made and you may not find yourself on that team anymore.

When do I look for advice - who else has actually done this and how did they do it?

When I want to scale up faster would be a good example - a growth plan. Advice is now about acquisition. Too many are not successful - how do I make it successful. It has been done many times before - why reinvent the wheel?

I want to find the secret sauce. I have to be cautious of who I take my real estate advice from. Someone in the same boat as myself might not be the best choice. The person who has made it to the other side might be the better option.

People who have given a gift of time have found it the most worthy gift to give. These individuals have given with no expectations to receive back. Many very successful young business people who are making a lot of money, are looking for help. I need to think about what it would mean to walk alongside them.