A couple of months ago I was riding back from a leadership conference with Casey Herrington, a fellow entrepreneur and program director of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). We were talking about the struggles and successes that we have experienced over the past years and the conversation got really deep in the emotional aspect of being an entrepreneur. After ruminating on the topic for some time, we came to the conclusion that entrepreneurs are not super- humans who can do it all. Entrepreneurs need the right group of people around them and the right environment to thrive.
Self-reliant entrepreneurship is a false rhetoric that is often portrayed in the media. Entrepreneurs are people who go through the same struggles as the person next door. In a 2015 study from University of California, San Francisco, researchers found that 72% of entrepreneurs reported having mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and bipolar disorders. Casey mentioned to me the idea of having a peer support group to share life, build friendships and help each other thrive. After thinking about ways of getting this idea rolling, we realized that building this type of program would take a lot of time and resources that we didn’t have, so the conversation stopped there.
I kept thinking about the word “community” for the next days. I realized that we needed to take the entrepreneurial community in Savannah to the next level. A level deeper than just business strategy or happy hour once a month, although those two are fun and important. A level of community where we are completely transparent and vulnerable about the roller coaster of our lives as entrepreneurs, builders and innovators. A safe space for us to share our struggles as individuals trying to build companies and community projects.
Weeks later, Kait Lance invited Casey and I to participate in a focus group for The Creative Coast, a Savannah, Georgia-based nonprofit that works on economic development through entrepreneurship. We were brainstorming ideas to boost entrepreneurship in the area and impact the local economy. It was then when it dawned on me that The Creative Coast was the perfect organization to lead this effort of taking community to a deeper level. Casey and I proposed a new initiative that we are calling, Creative Coast Circles.
Later this summer The Creative Coast will be launching Creative Coast Circles. This is a new movement to engage entrepreneurs, creatives, builders and innovators through community. These regular small group meetings will provide opportunities to build a vibrant community, grow a trusting environment, increase entrepreneurial morale, build friendships and build businesses! Each circle will be composed of 3 – 7 people and they will meet once a week or once a month all over the Savannah area. After we take off in Savannah, we plan on expanding to other cities and states. I am thrilled to see this idea come to life and start seeing the beginnings of a new era of rising entrepreneurs in the south.
If you’d like to join a circle or learn how to become a circle host, contact Creative Coast Community Manager Kait Lance at firstname.lastname@example.org.