If you’re going to be successful and happy in business, one thing is for sure: you need allies. You need people who are on your side, contributing to your vision, and vice versa. Find the wrong allies, and forever feel lonely and misunderstood. Find the right allies and go far together. Joining a community of fellow entrepreneurs could be the difference between these scenarios.
Dan Andrews knows about the power of entrepreneur communities. As the host of the Tropical MBA podcast, he’s spoken about location-independent entrepreneurship for over ten years. He’s the founder of Dynamite Circle, one of the longest standing communities for location independent founders, and the cofounder of Dynamite Jobs, one of the largest remote hiring platforms on the web. Dynamite Circle, known as the DC to its members, is a network of over 1000 location-independent entrepreneurs, running businesses from software to publishing and product to agencies.
I interviewed Andrews to find out the five reasons why joining an entrepreneur community can supercharge your life and business.
Finding your tribe
“Entrepreneurship is so difficult,” explained Andrews. “You’re swimming upstream anyway; you don’t want to make it harder by seeking validation from the wrong people.” Ever felt lonely in a crowd, or compelled into censoring yourself? These are signs that you haven’t yet found your tribe. “If you’re hanging out with people who don’t really understand you or what you’re doing, you’ll get a lot of non-productive feedback that can hold you back,” Andrews added.
“It’s fun being around people who are taking on the same challenges and risks that you are,” said Andrews. “There’s a sense of solidarity that comes from mutual sacrifice.” Let’s be honest, if you’re running a growing business, you probably are making sacrifices in the form of leisure, sleep or comfort. Don’t add friendship and deep connection to that list.
“You don’t have to be coy about your interests and your projects,” said Andrews of hanging out with other entrepreneurs. In entrepreneurs’ networks, members are genuinely interested in each other and want to help, and “it’s nice to be in an environment where you can nerd out and let the full version of you surface.”
“Entrepreneurship communities are a way that you can be around people who are way more successful than you but also able to relate to them,” explained Andrews. “They’re not a product or on Instagram or a billboard, they are just human, like you.” He explained how this, “helps you see how you can mimic their success.”
Not only can you learn from other members and emulate their success, but you will find they actively help and encourage you with your mission, which Andrews said is because, “you’re all on such a rare path, which they too feel relatively isolated by, so they are encouraging you to join.” When selecting a community, Andrews advised to not listen to the promises made by the website or the salesperson, and instead, “join based on the people you meet there.” When you’re surrounded by people who inspire you, you will start thinking bigger. When you meet people who not only make you dream bigger but also help you believe you’re capable of making those dreams come true, you will expand as a person and your business will follow suit.
Andrews knows there is a flipside, in that “communities have the potential to help you think smaller.” In some communities, each member is so caught up in the lives of each member they can miss the bigger picture. Although there can be downsides to too much groupthink, there can be tremendous power in it as well.
Thinking long term
You probably track the return on investment of your ads but doing so for a community might encourage short-term thinking. “The expectation of immediate transactional gain is a negative behaviour we try to eliminate [in the Dynamite Circle]. You can’t treat people as a means or use them like a tool.” Andrews adds that “by following the rules you’re demonstrating you are a highly competent member of the group.” Being part of an entrepreneur community is a long-term game with long term benefits, that those looking for instant gratification might miss.
“There is an inherent responsibility in being part of a community,” he said. “A lot of people get into business because they want to be free from all that, but communities rely on karmic returns and good faith.” To get the most out of your membership you have to give, and keep giving, without keeping score. That might be a challenge, but a necessary one.
Being challenged doesn’t stop at finding ways you can give to members; it also means being challenged by members and by facing your own demons. “Entrepreneur communities are a great place to find new sources of truth about yourself if you’re willing to hear them,” said Andrews. “The people within your community will have witnessed your behaviour over time and will probably have strong perspectives on it. That’s an incredible potential for growth.” Whilst you might find yourself benchmarking and comparing, it’s a force for good. “Over time, you are likely to discover exactly what is holding you back.”
Acquiring timely information
Andrews once spoke in front of a few hundred very successful entrepreneurs. “I asked the audience members to ‘raise your hand if you’re sharing your success story on Twitter right now.’ No hands went up.”
Information has a distribution problem. By the time something is published, it’s often old news. Andrews differentiates between timeless information and timely information, where “timely information is profitable. For example, if you had heard about and started on Amazon FBA or Bitcoin when they first emerged, you’d be in a very different position to someone who began both only this year.” The same happened with the remote working trend, which Andrews said, “actually happened in 2008 but everyone only properly discussed it in 2020.” He added, “If you’re in a community you’re going to access that learning earlier than in books or blogs.”
Founders with incredibly profitable information and guidance often aren’t incentivised to share it unless they’re in a community. Andrews set up the DC to ensure this instant learning happens. “We hold twice-yearly conferences where members share their lessons very soon after the experience. They also share on the forum, in incredible detail.” Another benefit of an entrepreneur network is that it becomes an effective filter for noise. “The focus is on actual success stories, rather than information having a PR slant like in a magazine.”
Making more money
Although Andrews said that “in the community space, making more money isn’t always a popular topic of discussion, it’s the most popular outcome when you join a community.” Joining the right community might mean you stumble into making more money. “A community environment can increase your deal flow,” added Andrews. “It puts you in this pressure cooker of making deals. Developing great relationships and building trust with members leads to referrals and introductions. Opportunities flow across members really powerfully in a community.”
The members within a community might, over time, become your investors and customers as well as your friends. Andrews has seen this happen a lot, adding “there are multiple 8-figure business in Dynamite Circle where the first customers were other members.”
Often the answer is who, not how. Who you meet, who you click with, who introduces you to new ideas and people and champions what you’re doing. “Dissecting success stories often reveals a small community of people behind the initial traction,” added Andrews. “If you’re not exposing yourself to that dimension you’re probably missing out on a lot of opportunities.” Those powerful market forces that take place in the background and result in you making more money begin with the people you know.
Join an entrepreneur network to find your tribe, dream bigger, think long term, learn from others and make more money. Five factors that make the difference between entrepreneurs who go the distance and those who give up and have to find a job. Fellow professionals on the cusp of a wave or doing interesting and important things will make perfect partners for you as you scale your own mountains.