Business relationships and support

How to build a business support network

As a small business owner, having a strong support network around you can be a big advantage. Here are some tips on building your core support group.

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Support from day one

When starting a business, having a strong support network around you will make all the difference. Of course, a support group is going to be invaluable at every stage of your business. But it can also play an important role right at the start of your journey when you’re assessing the feasibility of your idea. 

There will always be many ways you can improve your concept and therefore enhance your chances of success – and the more brains poring over your plans and offering fresh perspectives, the better.

Be careful not to rely solely on friends or family to give you advice about your idea. They may simply want to support your enthusiasm and might not want to hurt your feelings. Instead, emulate successful business owners by surrounding yourself with a team of expert advisers. Advice from one experienced businessperson who’s overcome the challenges of starting a business can be worth far more than the opinions of others who may never have run a business at all.

Build your core group

Whatever type of business you’re planning, it’s a real advantage to select a range of professionals, trusted advisers, and specialists for your core support group. You’re looking for people who can lend both technical expertise and industry experience to help you navigate a range of business challenges.

Professional experts

Engaging advisers, such as accountants or lawyers with experience in your industry, is a must. These advisers can help you assess your business idea and point out any specific issues in your industry. Once you’re up and running, they may be able to supply you with average performance indicators for the industry, such as gross and net profit margins, or stock turn rates. These will help you set performance targets for your business to match industry averages.


A business mentor can be a valuable source of help with your strategic planning, from marketing plans to the financial feasibility of your ideas. They can also be a terrific sounding board when you have a decision to make or an issue to resolve. Running a small business can be lonely, so having an experienced, objective mentor to talk to can be a huge help. Make sure you avoid ‘yes’ people. A good mentor challenges your ideas as well as supports them.

One way to find a mentor is simply to approach a successful businessperson you know or admire and ask for their help – just be prepared for them to say no. It’s usually nothing personal. Experienced businesspeople are often well-connected, so they might be able to recommend someone else who could fit into your support group.

If you don’t know of any likely mentors, investigate available mentoring services. Business Mentors New Zealand is a mentor service who can help you once you’ve been in business for more than six months.


Add specialists to your core group as needed. For example, you might engage an IT expert for advice on website development and matters related to online business. Or a marketing consultant can help you develop a promotion plan for your first year and beyond.

Expand your networks

Networking is simply engaging with like-minded or local businesspeople in your area. Networking gives you the opportunity to discuss the challenges of starting a business with other small business owners at a similar stage, as well as with more experienced owners.

For many people, the idea of networking can be challenging, especially if you’re not a social butterfly. Start small – it could be as simple as going for a quick coffee with the owner of a shop or business you admire. The more you do it, the more comfortable it’ll become. 

You may also feel you’re too busy to network while you’re firming up your business concept, especially if you’re currently working full-time for someone else – but it’s well worth finding the time. Consider it an investment in the future.

Productive ways to network

  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce and any relevant industry or business associations
  • Look for other business groups and networks in your area
  • Be active on business networking platforms on social media, like LinkedIn

Get the most from your business networks

To make the most out of networking opportunities, be systematic. Always make sure you have a business card to give people you meet (or use your phone to swap contact details) and dedicate set times to engage in social media. 

When you attend a networking event, go with specific questions you need answers to. For example, you may want to ask other business owners:

  • What accounting package they use and how user friendly it is
  • How they manage their customer database
  • If they can recommend a software programme.

Continue the process of widening your network throughout your business life. It’ll help you find answers and lead to new opportunities and customers.


Networking for success

It takes a village to raise a child and equally you need a great network to start, run or grow a business. This video will help you with some starters on where to look for people to support you in business and how to engage with them when you find them.

Elevator story template

In the fast-paced business world, attention spans are shorter than ever. So, crafting an effective elevator story is crucial for business owners. Imagine stepping into an elevator with an investor, mentor, or customer. You have just 30 seconds to capture their attention and leave them wanting to hear more from you. Use our template to help craft your unique elevator story and leave a lasting impression.

Contact an ANZ Business Specialist

Our specialists understand your kind of business and the challenges you face as a business owner. We can help you figure out how to make your business grow and succeed.

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