While listening to a business speaker recently he mentioned that it's vital to monitor who you hang around with when you're trying to build a business. And this got me thinking about who I tend to hang around with and whether I actually keep the right company.
You see, it's been very well documented that you often end up becoming like those you spend the most time with.
For example; if you spend a lot of time with folks who swear a lot you're quite likely to become someone who swears a lot. If you start going out drinking regularly with drinkers then there's a strong chance that you'll become a habitual drinker (and maybe an alcoholic). Children who grow up with parents who smoke normally end up smoking too. And so on.
Those of us who are parents will know that we don't want our children hanging around with those who swear, smoke and do stuff that's disrespectful and often illegal. Most parents want their kids to hang around with folks who are intelligent, respectful, and well behaved. We instinctively know that attitudes and behaviours are contagious when it comes to kids.
But why do we seem to think that we're any more immune to the bad (or beneficial) influences of others when we're older?
So, let's have a think about this: does it not make sense that if we want our children to hang around with good influences then maybe we all ought to seek out good influences, despite how old we are?
Look at it this way: if you want to become better at a sport it makes great sense to get some coaching and also to hang around with those who are good and positive role models.
A good example is that I used to play basketball (OK, you can stop laughing now). I'm not very good but my play certainly improved when I started hanging around with those who were better than me. I was able to observe what they did and how they did it, ask for help and then try and put some of that into effect in my own level of play. It worked.
And so it is with being in business. When you run a business, who you hang around with matters more than ever. Very few of the regulars at your local bar will be able to educate, influence or inspire you to be a better business person. Unless they're running a business of their own they just won't understand your challenges, your motivations or your decisions. And, if you took a good look, you'd find very few business owners in the bar every night anyway.
So, what should you do?
As a business owner the answer is really simple: go where the successful people are. Go to events where people in business go. The local Chamber of Commerce is a good start. Are there other business groups that meet regularly where you can rub shoulders with those who are heading in the same direction that you'd like to go?
However, I must warn you that this kind of stuff can be quiet intimidating to begin with. But I promise it'll be worth the initial discomfort.
Perhaps you could start a mastermind group and invite people who are already successful to come along and make a contribution?
How about asking a successful person if they'd consider mentoring you as you get started?
To be honest, having good positive influences around you will seriously speed up your development as a businessperson. After all, what could be better than to be able to pick up the phone (or send a quick email) to someone who's been there and done it?
Now, back to thinking about who you hang around with now: I'm not saying that you should ditch all of your friends immediately but it's a sobering thought that you only have to look at your friends to take a look at your probable future. If you're happy with what you see then I wish you the best of luck.
But if there are things you'd like to change then don't just kick your friends off the radar completely, we all need friends (even if they will never understand your life in business).
However, I would certainly encourage you to take your time and have a think about the value that some of your friendships bring to you. Ask yourself whether your friends are lifting you up or bringing you down, helping or hindering you in any aspect of your life.
And this is especially worth doing if you're starting or running a business.
So I hope that you'll begin to think a little more about who you hang around with but if you've any further thoughts on this then please let me know in the comments section.