As a small business owner, you don’t always have the backup of formal social supports offered by larger employers. When things get tough, there’s no manager, HR department or Employment Assistance Program to access, so the onus is on you to be proactive about setting up your own support network.
While there are a lot of professional support services available to small business owners, your business peers can also be a great source of information, pragmatic advice and mentoring.
Small business peers have often “been there, done that” and can relate to your situation by providing support based on their experiences and learnings.
It’s this experience of running a business that makes small business peers’ support distinct from the support of friends and family. They get the sense of responsibility and pressures associated with being at the helm of a business and usually peer support is free.
Growing a peer support network is about getting out and meeting other small business owners. You need to be willing to ask questions and share your knowledge.
Peer support is reciprocal. It’s exchanging knowledge and experience between you and learning from each other, so it’s important to identify people you can trust. This can take time, but it can bring valuable returns to your business when you find people you can connect with.
There are a number of places to get you started:
If you are experiencing a period of mental ill-health, peer support from others with a lived experience of mental illness can be invaluable.
Peer support workers are sometimes available within mental health services, or you could join a support group in your local community. For more information please speak with your GP.