The excitement of starting your own business and realising your dream is energising, motivating and certainly all-consuming. When starting up, you’ll flourish on sheer adrenaline, and the thrill of continued growth will drive you to reach goal after goal in the early stages.

But sadly, with every upside, there’s often a downside and the one thing you won’t understand until you own your own business is you’ll work incredibly long days alone. What follows is a strong feeling of isolation and loneliness that business coaches encounter time and again with our clients.

There’re times when you’ll feel so disconnected from the everyday world you left behind that you’ll want and need to reach out to others for advice. It is when you’re in this vulnerable and ambiguous state that many of us begin to look outwards for ways to feel supported and unfortunately, sometimes, the support we receive can be misguided and become expensive.

Finding your network

In my experience working with small business owners, I notice all too often that while seeking a cure for their isolation, people will join a business growth programme  designed to help them grow their business. The outcomes are varied, and I always ask the question “What are you really looking for? Are you looking for ways to feel less isolated or is it purely and solely about growing your business?”.

When investing in a business growth programme you’ll expect to get a commercial uplift, upskill, be held accountable, and to create and work to a plan. Another fabulous benefit of joining these groups is the opportunity to create connections with likeminded people – something you’ll most certainly be lacking and longing for most days in your business.

When people spend money their business can’t afford on programmes such as these, with the hope that it will bring them commercial uplift, in many cases their greatest outcome is often feeling more inspired and hopefully more motivated to achieve their goals rather than finding a way to increase their profit.

While I’m a strong supporter of group peer-to-peer coaching and business growth programs, it’s important that you hold your programme to account for every dollar you spend and decide on what would be a fair return well in advance. I can’t recommend that enough.

Determining what’s right for you

Before you decide to join a group, especially when making a large monetary investment, separate the two needs. If what you’re longing for is the ability to make connections with others then look at business networking, collaborations or a more affordable business growth programme. If it’s commercial outcomes you’re seeking, decide on a fair return for every dollar you spend and if you don’t see the returns you were hoping for, be prepared to walk away regardless of whether you’ve created connections with others in your group or not.

It’s impossible to understand that feeling of isolation you have as a business owner unless you’ve experienced it firsthand but in supporting each other to achieve our dreams, I urge you to be clear on your expectations and needs. Seek advice before making a large investment so you can determine what’s a fair return for your business, and ensure that both your expectations and your goals are aligned.