Being a founder of a startup can be a lonely existence.

Even if your startup is well established, boasts a strong team of staff and is based in a busy co-working space, it’s easy to understand why you may experience bouts of loneliness from time to time.

You’re the mainstay holding the whole show together. You figure out how to best use your existing resources, attain new streams of income and funding, recruit new hires, manage relationships between team members, create and implement business strategies and more. A founder’s job spec incorporates a vast (one might say never ending) array of responsibilities.

While staff, family and friends may sympathise with and support you as best they can when you're feeling under pressure or overwhelmed by the job, it may be difficult to confide in or seek advice from them. 

Being a startup founder is a unique experience that comes with challenges and emotions that oftentimes only other founders can truly understand. For that reason, it’s worth surrounding yourself with a supportive network of founders who you can easily reach out to when needed.

Lady on video callI’m not talking about an advisory board. Its function is to provide insights and advice regarding your businesses strategy among other things. A founders support network, on the other hand, consists of both new and veteran founders who can offer you moral support during tough times. They may be experiencing similar challenges to you or may have done so in the past. In the event that they can’t offer you specific advice, they can help you flesh out some solutions to the problems you’re facing or simply act as a sounding board.

So how can you go about building a network of founders? 

Start small. Connect with founders you may know through friends, family, school or even uni. Next up? LinkedIn. Reach out to startup founders you’ve connected with in the past and identify and link in with startup founders you don’t know personally or professionally. Send them a message or an email or ask mutual contacts to introduce you. Attend networking events and don’t use the pandemic as an excuse not to. Loads of networking events like The Freelancer Club’s Showcase event, are online. 

You may roll your eyes when I say it, but a problem shared is a problem halved and this old proverb is more poignant now than it ever was. 

The pandemic has presented many startup founders with an unprecedented amount of challenges, stresses and strains. For many, it’s been the wake up call they needed to seek out and build a founders support network for themselves.

Don’t wait until you have a big problem on your hands or you’ve reached a breaking point to seek solace in other founders. Start building your network now so that when you come upon hard times or need someone to bounce an idea off, you’ll have a group of founders ready to listen.