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Beating loneliness as a business owner

In the beginning years of my business, I was afraid to reach out to other business owners, particularly in my niche. Mainly because I was afraid there weren't enough customers for both of us or my competitor would steal my ideas.

I had felt this feeling of fear and distrust before - when I started coaching high school volleyball. I assumed that every time my team stepped on the court, we would be united against the common enemy: whoever we were playing.

It didn't take long for me to realize that the enemy lived among us (infighting, jealousy, parental interference, etc.) and there was always one other person in the gym who knew exactly what I was facing: the opposing team's coach.

I was so fortunate that a veteran coach took me under her wing and became a friend. And she was the first of many. I looked forward to coach meetings more and more every year because they became my support system. And even though I don't coach anymore, I apply these concepts to business.

Here's what I've found:

1. There are enough clients for all of us. You can't trust everyone with your deepest secrets but you can find community within the competitive climate. Competition actually helped me find my niche, which is senior night sports gifts. I often recommend another Etsy seller to clients who are looking for a lower price point.

2. Competitors WILL follow you and take your ideas if you are successful. The win for me: competitors copying me forced me to innovate and find new ways to set myself apart. Plus, if I'm honest, my entire business was built upon a DIY idea I saw on Pinterest, with a twist for my niche. If it's a good idea, more than one person will have it. (Don't believe me? Check out the toilet paper aisle!) 

3. Make a business friend outside of your niche, someone with whom you can pitch and catch ideas. For instance, I talk business constantly now with three friends. The first is a calligrapher who also sells on Etsy. The second is a friend who is a business/health coach and the third is a massage therapist.  We share our social media numbers, wins, failures, frustrations with clients, and goals for the future. 

4. My final tip would be to find a community on Facebook to join. There are paid options and free groups. One that changed my life is Social Curator, so bookmark that page if any of this resonates with you, {{first_name}}! 

Do you have any questions? Reach out! I'd love to encourage you as others have encouraged me!

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