What is it about community that gives entrepreneurs the heebie-jeebies?
I mean seriously. The minute someone realizes they need to create a community, they slump over in their swivel chairs, rest their faces in their hands and sob uncontrollably. Or you know…something similar.
There are many reasons for this reaction though, but the good news is…the pain is self inflicted. Let me explain.
The biggest issue is the myth that running an online community takes far too much time and energy, and once you “break the community seal”, you’ll be chained to your desk and iPhone deleting self-promotional bullshit from your members, breaking up digital fisty-cuffs or trying to bleed engagement from your members like blood from a stone.
All of these concerns are valid…if you don’t set the foundation correctly or set boundaries, but again, this is something you take care of when you set up the community (before anyone has even touched foot on the digital carpet).
What are entrepreneurs getting their knickers in a twist about?
It’s funny because there are 3 common “what ifs” that people worry about (two of which are complete opposites…so you’re pretty much fucked either way…or so your mind would like to have you think).
Here’s the headliner, the idea that a community will be all you think about and work on, all day long.
Sort of like a bladder infection, you know how that feels right?
You can’t get your mind off of it and when you do manage to eek out a bit of the old pee-pee (accomplish something in your community) the relief is fleeting and soon returns to “fuck I have to pee!” aka fuck I need to engage them more, or delete more self-promotional BS.
Now, in some cases this worry is valid. When you slap up a group for your course and don’t plan it out and think about what both your students and YOU want to get out of the community, it can turn into a shit-show pretty quick.
That’s why I always recommend taking a step back before you cut the red ribbon on your community and ask yourself how much time you actually want to be in your community, and also learn how your members want and need to feel when engaging in it.
If you’d like to set it and forget it (at least on the weekends) check out chapter 6 of my other beefy guide: Chapter 6: The key to building a profitable community that protects your time and sanity.
There you’ll discover how to take this “what if” and lay the smack down on it. I promise…YOU are in control of your community. It doesn’t (or shouldn’t) control you. If you do feel at the mercy of your community…something ain’t right and it’s up to you to sniff it out and fix it.
I get it. Being an entrepreneur feels like a one-man show, especially when you’re just getting started and you haven’t got cash flow to hire some badass experts to take care of the shit that leaves you looking like Bambi at 6am.
But this right here is a mindset issue.
First off, stop telling yourself this shitty-ass story. Just stop.
It’s like choosing to tell your 5 year old a scary story night after night and then later being annoyed that they wake up at 2am bawling their face off because they think the boogie-man is hiding under their bed.
If you tell yourself a shitty story, you’re going to act as if it’s real…dude.
So the buck stops here.
Saying, “I don’t have enough time for community,” is basically saying, “providing my students with a safe space to get support, help and create a connection with other students isn’t important enough for me”.
That very well might be true…but when we go a little deeper what you REALLY are saying is,
“I’m ok with my students not completing my course and I don’t really care about their success. Why would I want to go above and beyond for them? I already got their money.”
You see…here’s the rub. Community is a mutual back scratch my friend. It’s a win-win!
So again…stop the shitty “I don’t have time story” and replace it with, “This is a win-win for my students and my business”.
Still not convinced?
I work over 30 hours a week for my clients, wake up before my entire family and get in around 10 hours a week for my biz (like writing this guide), I finish working by 5pm almost every day, regularly read for 30 minutes before lights out at 10pm…oh and I have a 5 year old that puts the Energizer Bunny to shame, a husband that likes to spend time with me…and friends. Yes, I have friends too.
If I have time, then you’ve got time, or you can find it.
One last thing…it’s never about time. It’s about priorities.
Free online communities…waste of time. I’ll give you that. Course communities and memberships? Worth it. Period.
Remember how I said that there were two “what ifs” that were the opposite of one another?
Well here she be. One minute you’re thinking you don’t have time to manage or engage a bustling community (too much engagement), and the next are biting your nails off because NOTHING might happen.
You know what I’m talking about.
You pop into the community and the flat line buzzes in your imagination. Beeeeeeeeeep! Nada…zip…zero. No one is doing ANYTHING.
It’s like having a dinner party and everyone is sitting around looking over the rims of their wine glasses, but not saying a fucking word to each other.
I’m here to tell you that this can happen, but it’s easy enough to solve. Because your community revolves around a course. You know that everyone has that one thing in common. This is when you’d identify (if you hadn’t already) the emotion (or top 3) that your members want to feel and then trigger it until the cows come home.
Imagine your members want to feel supported and understood.
So you create a post that shares a story (your own or from one of your students) highlighting how they have struggled with a certain part of the course. You can get vulnerable and really be honest here.
If the share is from a student, you (as the host) could offer your own advice BUT an even better idea would be to call on the group to rally together and share THEIR experiences and advice. You could even tag in 2-3 of your minions (I’ll explain the “find your minions” technique in chapter 14) so they can get the ball rolling.
Rather than simply giving your own advice, you bring the community together to support one another (which is another emotion that many communities thrive on…feeling helpful/useful). Once the community comes together, you can drop your advice in the comments as well.
I was getting to know a potential client recently, and something stuck out for me. A member of their team told me that they hated Facebook communities (especially during launch time) and that it felt like the wild west, and not Will Smith’s version btw.
The community was always on her mind and it was the last thing she checked at night and the first thing she checked in the morning.
This is a classic case of a community controlling us, when it should be us controlling and facilitating the community.
To be honest, it’s like being a parent.
The community is your child and in order to not hate said child, you need to teach them how to be a cool human. You teach them what is right and what is wrong and how to behave in different situations.
When you establish those rules, then you can give your child a bit of freedom to explore and grow.
It’s the same with a community. It should not be something you dread, but something you look forward to checking in on. By the time you’ve finished reading this guide, you’ll see your wild west in a whole new light.
If you’re still sceptical I want to give you an example from my own life. I’m the Community Manager (CM) for Ramit Sethi’s Accelerator program. Myself and 2 other amazing business coaches (Marc Aarons and Felicia Sphar) provide an exclusive group of GrowthLab students personalized business coaching (live calls every week) and a special community.
In the past, when I first started managing the community…I’ll be honest. I was in it ALL THE TIME. I couldn’t help myself. You see…I LOVE being in communities. Wait…that’s wrong.
I love being in exceptional communities with exceptional people…and Accelerator is exactly that.
I joined Accelerator as a student and after a couple months of not being able to help myself from making the community better, I was brought on as the CM and a business coach.
So how did I go from being in the community 24/7 to clocking out at 5pm daily and not touching it on the weekends?
To put it simply…I created the boundaries for myself and stuck to them.
The only reason I am able to do this is because we have guidelines (that have been enforced so consistently that our members know the drill). I don’t spend hours a day deleting self-promotional posts, or shitty questions, because we’ve trained our members to provide context, information and ask great questions to get great answers.
So my pet…you CAN clock out at 5pm everyday and leave your community to it’s own devices over the weekend without losing any sleep. All you need to do is establish your guidelines, enforce the shit out of them consistently and voila! You’ll learn how to do that all in this guide.
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