Successful entrepreneurs reap the financial rewards of going it alone, while also enjoying the enviable position of being their own boss—perhaps that’s why they work so hard to run their own businesses. But, just because the buck stops with them, it doesn’t mean valuable feedback, advice, or helpful collaboration with others also stops. It’s actually quite the opposite, as we learned from a May 2019 survey PicMonkey conducted of 500 small business owners ages 18-60+ about how, why, and when they rely on their collaboration networks to propel the success of their business.
A Survey of Entrepreneurs: Four Key Findings
You can read the whole survey here: It Takes a Village to Run a Small Business: How Entrepreneurs Rely on Their Collaboration Networks, or read on for a quick look at four interesting things we learned.
1. Entrepreneurs overwhelmingly rely on collaboration networks
More than two thirds (69%) of the small business owners we surveyed said that they regularly relied on at least one other person to bounce ideas off of and to discuss important issues that affect the success of their business. Their “most important” outside collaborator was not an employee or business partner, but instead a trusted mentor (38%), friend (47%), family member (41%), and in fewer cases, a paid third-party contractor (27%).
So what are these captains of small biz using their networks for? They answered that they sought out their advisors to use as a sounding board for new ideas (46%), to collaborate on a variety of business issues (41%), and to seek answers to specific questions (40%). So, yes, that late night call to your dad to ask about circuit breakers as you exhaustedly put the finishing touches on your new cafe definitely counts as collaborating!
Could regular collaboration and seeking ongoing feedback be the secret to long-term business success? It might just be! We learned that among entrepreneurs who’d been in business the longest (10 or more years), that 60% of them relied on at least one external advisor.
2. Collaboration networks are (nearly) priceless
Big-ticket consultations for strategy and vision planning, marketing strategies, and product offerings do not come cheap at big-time consultancies. A small business owner’s collaboration network is not only helpful, it’s also economical. You could even say that collaborating with your crew is money earned, and for an entrepreneur every dollar saved goes right back into their own business. Ka-ching!
The majority of small business owners told us that they did not pay a fee for their collaboration sessions with advisors, colleagues, and mentors. Interestingly, most respondents (~80%) are rarely or not at all paying for the help they receive from their network. Just 18% indicated they pay for help from their network more than half of the time.
3. Collaboration is related to work satisfaction
Our entrepreneur survey takers told us that when they collaborate with their networks, they experience higher job satisfaction and increased optimism about their businesses’ year ahead. It makes sense, right? Working in a bubble without feedback is difficult and it can be hard to know if you’re making the right business decisions without consulting others. Having others weigh in on your business ideas not only invites fresh perspective, it also contributes to peace of mind.
4. Entrepreneurs’ top advice for new business owners is to collaborate
We asked those surveyed for their best advice for new business owners, and their answers revealed how highly they value collaborating with others, recommending networking, asking questions, and seeking out experienced mentors. Here are just a few of their responses:
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.
Stay true to your plan but look for others to help in areas where you may be weak.
Choose your advisors carefully and remain open minded about their suggestions.
Don’t go it alone. Ask for advice. Ask for help.
Advice from others who have “been there” can save you a lot of time and frustration when embarking upon a new venture.