3. Create your startup network. You probably already have a network that you don’t even think of as a “network” — whether it’s college friends, colleagues or industry acquaintances. But you’re going to want to know more people who are in the “startup world” who you can turn to for advice, word-on-the-street buzz, partnerships, funding, introductions and, most importantly, support and camaraderie.
Sound scary? It’s not if you start small: First, who can your existing network introduce you to? Ask your friends and colleagues — maybe their former colleague started a biz and you can take her out for coffee. Second, get yourself to startup-focused events. (Find listings at places like Gary’s Guide, The Fetch and Startup Digest.) You’ll have to put yourself out there for the first few, but gradually you’ll begin to make contacts and friends who are as passionate about entrepreneurship as you are. Finally, look into joining a cohort like the Startup Leadership Program or Founder’s Network or an industry group like Naturally Boulder — places where you can connect with a group of early-stage entrepreneurs and peers who will offer support and guidance.
4. Streamline your social calendar. For the next six to 12 months, your biggest priority is starting your business — and that means that your social life is going to have to take a backseat. While I’m not advocating canceling on friends, I do suggest RSVPing “no” much (much) more often going forward. You’ll be working long hours — sorry, it’s the truth — but you’ll also have a more unexpected and volatile schedule. When you’re in charge, you’re the one staying late to make sure something ships on time, and that startup stress is compounded when you’re also feeling guilty about canceling plans. One of the successful founders I interviewed said he didn’t go home for any holidays or attend a single wedding for the first two years! But if you share your dream with your family and friends, you’ll find that most are supportive.
My favorite strategy: Pick one or two things that help keep you sane and connect you to your most loyal, non-startup world supporters (for me, it’s a weekly run with my best friend and a dinner with my girlfriends every other month) and say no to everything else that doesn’t help you grow the business. But once you do say yes to something, consider it set in stone.