As some of you may know - Jim Storer and I are starting a business called The Community Roundtable. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect since it is my first go at starting a company. We are still in very early days but already I've had some really interesting insights. The biggest by far is that to build a solid business, it takes a village. And while it is common knowledge that executives need a large 'network' to make things happen, that always had a very sterile sound to me. It always sounded a little tit for tat and transactional to me. What I've experienced is anything but - it is people going out of their way and putting their reputation on the line to recommend me to others. It is maybe the best gift someone can give you - to believe in you and your vision to such a degree that they are willing to promote it without any direct reward for doing so.
What I've realized trying to get TCR up and running is that - as hokey as it sounds - I am blessed. I didn't realize until I was in a position to be helped just how many people were willing to vouch for me and in ways I never would have expected. Many, many people have helped us get the word out and continue to do so. Others have offered to help us out on discrete tasks like creating a logo or testing out our community. Others have enthusiastically offered to affiliate themselves with us. Others have offered to help us with PR and marketing. Others have offered to put us in front of their customers.
The other thing that I've realized is related. I've been through enough of life that I've known for a while what I'm good at, what I'm bad at, what really motivates me, and what I enjoy doing. The relationships that I've built - particularly over the past five years - have all been rooted in that self-understanding. I partnered with Jim and we are building The Community Roundtable on that understanding (see our mission statement for more). That means my business is very aligned with my virtual 'village' of people. My values have driven my relationships which is now driving my business and the same is true for Jim.
People can succeed in a new business without a village but it's much more expensive and not nearly as much fun. I can't tell yet whether The Community Roundtable will be successful but I can tell you there are a lot of people who are excited about it and that is the phenominal first step - and a great foundation for making it through what will no doubt be a rocky first year as we try to keep up with everything.
While I don't want to call out people publicly here I do want to say THANK YOU! We'll figure out how to do something useful to thank them each individually. And my question to the rest of you - whether you are starting a company or just managing an initiative - is this: Do you know who is in your village? Are they the people you need to help you in whatever ambition you have, professional or otherwise? Is there enough diversity to provide the resources you might need? Will they hlep you celebrate your success?
After all, No Man Is An Island to quote John Donne. Don't deceive yourself that you can do it alone.