The thing about being an entrepreneur is that often, it's a lonely battle. You're so busy running your own business that there's rarely time to get together with other entrepreneurs and share ideas. Also, a lot of networking groups cost a bundle.
Two new organizations are aiming to change all that.
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, which has long focused its philanthropy on initiatives that enable entrepreneurial growth, earlier this month started Build A Stronger America. Billed as an entrepreneurs' movement, Build A Stronger America aims to provide entrepreneurs with "a central hub to share their stories, hear about issues affecting them and create a unified voice."
The movement has political overtones--it's hoped the movement will "assist entrepreneurs and business owners in influencing the current dialogue on the economy to ensure that their specific needs are at the forefront of the decision-making process." In other words, power to the entrepreneurial people.
Entrepreneurs can register at the Build A Stronger America site, and can also upload 60-second videos discussing their entrepreneurial ideas. Chris Gardner, author of the rags-to-riches story The Pursuit of Happyness, is among those who've already posted their thoughts.
The other new opportunity doesn't have a political angle -- it's just about entrepreneurs supporting and learning from each other. The Entrepreneur's Club of America started as a local support group in Cleveland; then, two years ago, entrepreneur Kip Marlow took over. Looking for a way to give back after the successful sale of his company, Marlow Surgical Technologies, Marlow has ramped TECA into a national network with 3,000 members to date.
The big difference between TECA and other entrepreneurs' organizations? Membership is absolutely free. Marlow says groups meet monthly for lunch, generally to hear a speaker and allow members a chance to support and network with each other.
So far, clubs have formed mostly in the Midwest--Ohio, Illinois and Michigan. There's one in New Jersey.
You can contact Marlow at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in starting a TECA group.
Have you found other good, free sources of support? If so, leave a comment and let us know about them.