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Somebody To Lean On

Build a strong support network to help you through the tough times.

For many, the decision to become an entrepreneur is made with mixed emotions. Excitement results from the realization that owning your own business gives you more control over your destiny. You may be intimidated, however, when you realize that you'll likely be doing most of the work alone or with just a partner--in other words, without the in-office support network enjoyed daily by people who work for others.

So if you're feeling lonely, you're not alone. But establishing a reliable network of advisors and friends you can turn to for support in times of crisis or uncertainty can make all the difference. The goal is to gather a core group of individuals who will be willing to lend an ear or some heartfelt advice when the need arises.

"For a solo worker, a network of friends and advisors becomes a lifeline for success," explains business consultant Terri Lonier, author of Working Solo: TheReal Guide to Freedom & Financial Success with Your Own Business (Portico Press, $14.95, 800-222-SOLO). "Friends and colleagues can help you find clients, provide you with funding or point you in the right direction, sort out new business ideas, offer feedback on that brainstorm you have, guide you in legal and financial matters and keep you balanced between the work and nonwork parts of your life."

As you grow your business and encounter others with whom you exchange advice on a regular basis, your support network, too, will grow. Our Building Blocks entrepreneurs have each reaped the rewards of reliable support networks from the earliest days of their ventures. Here, they share their tips.

A business writer for the past eight years, Kylo-Patrick Hart has run a successful homebased consulting business since 1989.

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This article was originally published in the November 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Somebody To Lean On.

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