One of the biggest challenges that founders experience is loneliness. These days, being an entrepreneur means that you’re often working long hours, in sustained isolation. So when you’re running a business, it’s inevitable that you’ll be juggling multiple responsibilities.
Having access to a community of fellow-founders is invaluable for getting out of your head — especially during moments when you’re in need of advice or an extra sounding board. Remember — it’s about quality, not quantity.
Here’s a handpicked curation of tips and platforms for founders to seek collaboration, wisdom, and insight.
If you’re feeling like it’s tough to “get out there” these days, you’re not alone. As humans, we’re social creatures. But being social creatures these days is hard given the confluence of societal challenges.
We gain value from being in shared learning and discussion environments. Here are some online environments that may be a good fit for you:
Description: Startups is an ecosystem of resources to help startups launch faster. Education, playbooks, and discussion forums are available to help entrepreneurs at every stage. With so much information available, you can choose your own adventure. Startup’s Library is a good place to begin your exploration.
Description: IdeaMensch curates and publishes interviews with entrepreneurs, creators, and makers. The goal of this media is to facilitate the sharing of wisdom and insights. You can browse Q&As by industry, business model type, and other criteria. This resource provides simple, valuable information-sharing between peers. You can participate in the storytelling by submitting your own interview.
Type: Venture Capital Firm
Description: First Round Capital is one of the most highly regarded venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. The VC has committed to supporting a culture of learning across its ecosystem through mentorship networks and other resources for portfolio companies. To increase the accessibility of these insights, First Round Capital maintains a publication called the First Round Review. So even if you’re not in the Silicon Valley VC ecosystem, you can still learn from this valuable resource hub.
Description: As a founder, you probably know how valuable it is to publish content. If you’re looking to do more than write a blog post or two, Substack could be a great environment to hold yourself accountable to your writing practice. In addition to publishing your articles, you can subscribe to content from fellow founders (and writers) for inspiration. Substack also hosts classes and events where people can connect to one another.
Description: The Kauffman foundation is a 100+ year old organization based in Kansas City, devoted to helping more people discover an entrepreneurial path. There’s a physical campus that hosts more than 75,000 visitors per year. The organization offers grants, publishes a magazine, and provides education to people looking to start and grow their businesses. One way to get involved with them is to subscribe to the mailing list and to start following the publication.
Description: Sometimes, you just need realtalk to remember why you’re “in it” with the stressors of your business. In those moments, Indie Hackers offers a space for candid conversational honesty. If you’re not in the mood to talk with people in the discussion forum, you can check out the site’s podcast and interview curations. Indie Hackers, in its own way, feels like its own world.
Description: In addition to being a popular platform for event technology, Hopin runs a directory for people to find workshops and conferences. Take a moment to browse through the ecosystem to see if any events catch your eye. These events are also potential funnels into interesting, independent groups. Here’s where to find them.
Description: Product Hunt is a community for people who enjoy discovering and sharing new tech products. It’s a place to keep an eye on trends, find inspiration, and connect with fellow enthusiasts. Conversation is the heartbeat of Product Hunt, if you’re looking to jump into an interesting discussion. One way to jump right into the conversation is to check out Product Hunt’s maker stories. Or, you can browse what other builders are creating.
Description: Formerly known as Women 2.0, this community is a place for entrepreneurial women to gain access to wisdom, mentorship, and resources. Women 2.0 started out as a global movement of meetups for people who identify as women — and their allies. The community directly targets conscious and unconscious biases that create glass ceilings for women founders. There are different levels of meaningful support that Switch offers: access to venture capitalists, pitch training, and published educational insights. To start immersing yourself in Switch’s orbit, start with their media hub, The Conversation.
Description: Foundr originally launched as a magazine to help everyday people learn from accomplished entrepreneurs. The content was so popular that the magazine grew into a platform for online courses, podcasts, and other educational media. If you’re looking to get started with the community, be sure to check out Foundr’s free entrepreneur training.
Type: Venture Capital Firm
Description: Based in Silicon Valley, Y Combinator has evolved to become one of the most highly regarded startup accelerator programs in the world. One of the challenges that Y Combinator runs into is its ability to reach everyone. So the team launched freely available education and discussion forums for anyone to access. Startup School is Y Combinator’s free online program and global community.
With all the time you’re online, don’t forget about the real world. There’s good stuff out there, and you may be surprised to learn how many awesome groups are nearby. Sometimes, you just need to ask around to find the right direction. Here are a few ways to find communities IRL.
Seriously. Next time you talk with a local entrepreneur, ask for event and community recommendations. Even if the network has nothing to do with your industry, there’s still plenty for you to learn. Who knows, you may even enjoy getting out of your company’s headspace for a while.
Co-working spaces are growing in popularity — especially with people wanting more flexibility in where they work. So when was the last time you checked up on local co-working options? Even if a membership isn’t right for you, there may be an awesome event worth attending. If you’re not sure whether a co-working space offers events to the public, just ask. You can even step up to host an event.
Eventbrite is an online directory for finding local and online events. You can start by looking for one-off events or workshops. As you do your research, you’ll likely come across communities, groups, educators, or experience hosts. Do your research to see what seems enjoyable or interesting.
Even if you’re no longer a student (or if you never went to or finished school), college campuses are great places to meet people and learn about interesting topics. Many universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges offer their events to the public. To find potential events, you may need to ask around a bit. Put in a little bit of effort to see what you find.
If you’re not finding the community experience that you want, you can always start your own. You don’t need to host an event or build an online platform to do it. An easy first step to take is to start a newsletter and to begin publishing material on interesting topics — or, host a webinar with a small group of people. A community could even be as simple as a Slack channel that brings together your friends and peers in a shared discussion environment.
Don’t get discouraged. If the community you need isn’t out there, you can always get one going. Learn more about Capchase's community.