If you've ever felt the loneliness of being an entrepreneur, or you want to start your business but you're afraid of becoming that lonely entrepreneur, I think you're going to be inspired by this article.
I hope so anyway because I don't just want to talk about how paid communities is shaping the future of The Influential Woman, but also how paid communities could shape the future of your business too.
I'm going to show you the tool I'm using, Circle.so, to create a real community. And by real community, I mean one where we learn, do business together, share ideas, network and grow together - as well as access a directory of members.
Full disclosure by the way, I am being paid for writing this article. BUT... if you know me well enough, you know I ain't gonna put finger to keyboard for anything I don't believe in 100%.
Also, some of the links include my Circle.so affiliate link, so if you choose to purchase via one of these links, I will receive a small commission, but it will have no bearing on the price you pay.
So now we've got the legit legalities out the way, let's get to it! 🙂
One of my mottos for The Influential Woman for the past few years has been...
We're better together than we are apart
Sadly, I haven't seen this played out enough in the entrepreneurial space as experts are all too often more interested in becoming celebrities and forgetting to extend a hand to "help a sister out!"
I believe community is the new metropolis for entrepreneurs where we meet, learn, share and grow. It's why I've built an entire membership around the paid community model. More about the membership in an upcoming article.
For now, allow me to share why I believe community is the new membership model that entrepreneurs should either be building or at least be a part of.
First, The Backstory
In 2016, Entrepreneur.com wrote an article titled, "The 8 Biggest Challenges for New Entrepreneurs."
Whilst I don't intend to talk about all 8 of them, number 6 stood out as one that is more prevalent today than it was back in 2016, and that's loneliness.
And just so that I don't misinterpret the article, this is what it said...
It’s a rarely mentioned problem of entrepreneurship, and many new business owners aren’t prepared for it until it happens. Being an entrepreneur is lonely. It’s a singular position, so you won’t have teammates to rely on (completely). You’ll be working lots of hours, so you won’t see your family as often.
I can see your head nodding! Mine was nodding and shaking at the same time because I know that lonely feeling! And sadly, I know too many good entrepreneurs who have given up running their businesses because they lacked the support that would at least ease, even if it didn't eliminate that loneliness altogether.
Before I'd even came across this article I had decided that the digital landscape somehow had to change to allow for real collaboration - not just saying it to attract sales, but meaning it by doing it. To allow for real networking, promoting each other and the sharing of ideas.
It seemed that whilst attempts were made to bridge the community gap with solutions such as groups on social media...
We were actually widening the gap by promoting more information via "high ticket" coaching and an ever growing library of membership content.
I can hear Number 5 from the movie Short Circuit having a field day... "More input! More input!"
But we're neither robots nor university students yet even they seem to get more support than us rainmaker entrepreneurs.
So How Do We Fix This?
Allow me to go back to 2020...
Truth? I was more disillusioned with Facebook than I was the pandemic.
And nah, it wasn't about the politics, people's views on COVID etc, no, it was more about how communities seemed to be more fragmented in a time when we were supposed to be working together.
You had the authoritarian group leaders ban you for even adding a 3rd party link to answer a question another group member had asked. Then another group leader who made it clear that they were the only ones to give advice in the group. Say what!!!
And the Jamaican in me remembered what my Grandmother, who raised me, used to say... "don't fight people for their tings (things)." 🙂
So if I'm not going to fight them, I'd better find my own solution right?
And hunting I did go...
I know... Sounds like finding Nemo! It was almost as tough.
I explored Mighty Networks, the Kajabi Community, the New Zenler community but like God presenting all the animals before Adam, I couldn't find one that satisfied.
I saw that Pat Flynn was using a piece of software I'd never heard of before for his new community, SPI Pro, called Circle.so.
It truly was love at first sight. Seriously, I loved the aesthetics, the ever growing addition of rich features and the quality of the cohort. I need to say that part again...
"The Quality of The Cohort!"
I signed up to the Pro Membership level and quickly organised my content into what Circle call Spaces.
My first thoughts were, this wasn't Facebook. It didn't feel like Facebook, it didn't operate like Facebook and it felt like real conversations with grown ups who wanted to make an impact in the world.
This was a community that made me feel as though I belonged.
Circle.so was not just new, it was fresh. It was growing but so was I. But months later I had to abandon the software because as much as I was in love with it, I didn't know how to monetise it and make it pay.
I even paid to join Pat Flynn's SPI Pro community to get some ideas but I was new to paid communities and I admit that in my ignorance it wasn't making total sense to me. Why would people pay to join a community?
That Was 2020
A lot has happened between then and now, but let's just say I've literally gone full circle...
Earlier this year, inspired by a client, I decided to take another look at Circle. What I found when I reactivated my membership was nothing short of amazing...
The village green had turned into the town square!
No seriously. It was buzzing!
And now, not only were people using the software to host their communities, they were hosting courses, many of which were fully supported by Circle's new Paywall feature.
Within weeks of me resubscribing, they added live streaming. And then there were was the virtual seminars run by Pat Flynn and others.
And suddenly, it all made sense.
This is what community was all about.
This is what people pay for.
Not more content, but more quality collaborations, support, networking, great facilitation and Mathilde is a welcomed Community Manager and awesome facilitator at Circle.
Here's what the Webster's definition of community is...
a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society
Only, inside the Circle community, we were far from scattered.
Circle brought us together and made every attempt at promoting member communities so others could ethically steal ideas from each other as well as support each other.
It was refreshing to say the least. It wasn't about competition, it really was communities helping other communities for the greater good of all.
So now you know a little about Circle itself, you're probably still asking...
So What Does The Future of The Influential Woman Look Like?
The Influential Woman has always been about helping women make an impact with their message and it's always been my dream to create a community for women to learn, connect and grow.
But up until now, I've never found the right software to allow for real facilitation and I always felt I was adding to your burden by giving you more content to consume. And people I've tended to work with prefer 1-1 coaching which is beyond the budget of most.
Be honest with me now though, how many $2,000 programs have you purchased over the years?
And how many of those $2,000 programs have you finished before you were purchasing something else?
Ummm. I know! The sales copy was great and you could see the millions of dollars flooding in at the end of the program. Trust me, my hands are raised higher than yours, so I'm not throwing shade!
But we are women on assignment and distraction is our greatest enemy.
So earlier I asked the question, "how we gonna fix this?"
Meaning the content trap and the need for "More input."
Like Circle, we have to move from being the village green to becoming the town square. We need our own space to meet, collaborate, share information, network as well as buy from each other.
That last part, buying from each other is one of the aspects of shaping The Influential Woman that excites me the most.
Years ago, I was mentored by Internet Marketer, Alex Mandossian.
Alex was good at was interviewing his students and introducing them and their services to the other students.
We experienced true collaborations and I was getting consistent business as were others in the program.
Circle allows for all of this in one place.
With the live streaming element we'll be able to host live coaching calls directly inside the community. We can also invite up to six people to join us on the platform for hot seat coaching or just to enhance the conversation.
A New Way To Publish Content
Some Circle community members host full blown memberships inside Circle. Check out 1 Minute Media. Scroll half way down the page to see the layout of his community. And if you join Circle, you'll get a chance to watch his showcase video where Dan, the owner of 1 Minute Media, gives you the full lowdown of his membership.
What can I say, no more Facebook! Serious conversations for serious business people. There's no need to ask people to remove themselves from your learning platform to go to a distracting and might I say, toxic platform, to learn more from you.
Don't take my word for it. The Circle community itself is buzzing!
And just as an aside... The test of a good community platform is whether they use their own platform to host their community. Try finding a Circle.so community on Facebook and you'll find it's missing!
The IW Unleashed Community, is more than just a place to consume content. It's a place where we can share ideas, talk about wins, ask for help and yes, there are also "Get It Done, Tech Clinics" to help you fill in the knowledge gap because you don't need a $2,000 program for everything you want to learn.
I know you hear me. 🙂
But as I said earlier, I'm not here to pitch my membership. I want to encourage you to click here and go check out Circle for yourself. Start your own community or join a community and experience levels of growth that can't be obtained by flying solo.
Recently, I was watching a video of a lady who makes millions of UK Pounds per month. She said how she's considering a paid community because entrepreneurship can be lonely and even she needs motivation at times to get things done. What more can I say.
And remember, "we're better together than we are apart."
Click here to check out Circle.so for yourself.
Keep the dream alive!