Back to Mental Wellbeing

Mental Wellbeing

5 ways community meet-ups can save small businesses

by Holly

Never underestimate the power of human connection and female friendship. Sharing fears, gaining comfort and hearing hard won wisdom can be the key things that changes your whole outlook when you’re ready to quit. Oh and very often belly laughing till your cheeks hurt, too. But even if you get together on a more serious note, meet-ups can be like rocket fuel for your business. 

If you’re ever feeling low or like you just want to give up, sometimes all it takes is one chat to change everything. Even if you’re not a sociable person and the idea of meeting a group of founders makes you feel about as excited as a damp flannel or even slightly terrified, the benefits of pushing yourself to do so aren’t just ultimately good for you, they can be invaluable for your business.

You see you can get the kind of golden insight from talking in person in a way you just often can’t online, from people who’ve been there and done it or are going through what you are.

It’s why societies are built around community. People have craved human connection since the beginning of time. It’s the glue that holds us together on the path to progression. So whether you want to call them your clan, your tribe, your gang or just your people, here are some clear ways you can benefit from meeting up. 

1. It stops you feeling alone

Your community is your comfort blanket. Founders can, at times, feel isolated and stuck, especially in an era of Zoom calls and when we’re going through a time of extreme crisis. There’s a notion that building a small business is a lonely affair — and back when notonthehighstreet was created, believe me it was. 

In 2006, there was no WhatsApp, Instagram or group technology as we know it today. There were precious few female founded businesses and all in all, not many places to turn if you needed a sounding board.

Now there’s really no excuse to find yourself alone. From Facebook to Insta groups, there are so many ways for small businesses to connect — and finding a community could be the closest thing to a silver bullet that you’ve got. 

One of the greatest joys for me in the pandemic was starting SME: SOS; an hour daily on Instagram LIVE where we brought people together when we needed each other most, and worked through the challenges sprung upon us. I can’t tell you the number of problems that we solved between us — some of which were truly business critical — and we did it. 

There’s also something special about talking to people on Instagram who you then meet in real life. Yet does it really need to take a crisis to get to know our neighbours? Anyone who’s listened to my podcast knows I always use the analogy that running a business is like being on a rollercoaster. Well meeting physically allows us to hold the hand of the person next to us as we momentarily scream in fear, and feel infinitely safer with them by our sides. 

We get to lay it on the line, warts and all, with people who understand what we’re going through in a way that others can’t. We have such common ground both personally and professionally. If your homelife isn’t stable, it can have a hugely negative affect on your business and vice versa. With other founders, you just get it. If your partner’s having a hissy fit about how much time you’re spending at work, there are others who will give you a knowing nod and that can mean the world when you need that the most.

It’s why societies are built around community. People have craved human connection since the beginning of time. It’s the glue that holds us together on the path to progression.

2. It gives you a shortcut

Talking to your community can be a time saver and major insight provider. If someone is dealing with an accountant who’s really working out for them for example, you can try them out too. Or if someone else is firing their PR because they’ve realised that compared to somebody else’s, yours is actually a little bit useless. 

You get the benefits of your community’s hard-earned wisdom for free. All you need to do is turn up and have a conversation to get a whole new, tried and tested approach. 

Plus it’s not just the practical side of running a small business that you can get mentorship on but the emotional side, too. Who can you turn to if you want to understand ‘Mum guilt’? Or how terrible it feels to fall out with a family member you’ve hired? Who has been there and done it who could save you the heartache of getting it wrong? Our strength is in our community.

This is also what people are turning to more and more to shop. Since the pandemic, a WARC report on the role of community commerce showed that in the UK, an average 85% of people have purchased a product or service after seeing it advertised or reviewed on social media¹. So many of our key buying decisions are coming from our social communities — and if we’re all using it in that way for shopping, we should strive to understand how it feels to really be part of one ourselves.

3. You get different points of view

Our Holly & Co-mmunity Facebook Group hold their Creative Meets-Ups regularly in our Work/Shop in St Margarets. Organisers Siân from Robin Bobbins and Danielle from The Richmond Cake School post an open invitation on the Facebook page. Around 20 people attend from the local area, with a wide range of types of business and diverse, eclectic skill sets and ideas — which essentially means you could be twenty times more likely to learn something you didn’t know before. 

They have a different theme each quarter to help focus the conversation and draw on their collective wealth of experience. May’s one was about Pinterest, for example, and they’ll discuss what works for each of them and share any tips. 

Siân said, “We’ve started using the Holly & Co Advice Hub articles which are a fabulous kick off point. They provide a wealth of inspiration — perfect for drawing on and sparking further discussion.”

Do they share resources? Horror stories? Successes? Absolutely. Sian said, “There was an open and inclusive environment to the session where everyone was given an opportunity to convey each founder’s current use, experience and hopes for how Pinterest can help their business. This was followed by a ‘speed date’ style look at a range of Pinterest accounts from a handful of attendees who had given their permission for us to use them as a case study.

In small groups we discussed them and then fed back to the larger group about what we felt particularly worked, areas for improvement and to ask any questions that were sparked. At the end of the session we reflected on three actionable areas, moving forward, to help grow our use of Pinterest.”

@rufensham who came along to a previous group said on Instagram, “Loved the morning. Felt inspired and energised walking away… these are just a snapshot of the wonderful community who I feel I have “travelled” with over the past year… who have helped me navigate Brexit and Shopify — and the blessed influencer culture and more — I have learned more from them than any other business group.” And that’s just one example. Different points of view can bring different solutions.

Now there’s really no excuse to find yourself alone. From Facebook to Insta groups, there are so many ways for small businesses to connect — and finding a community could be the closest thing to a silver bullet that you’ve got.

4. It helps us rise by lifting others

It’s not just what we get from building or belonging to communities ourselves but what we get out of helping others. It lets you see how far you’ve come. It can also be a great way to give back. Thinking about all the people who have kindly given their time and energy to boost my businesses over the years, I always make an effort wherever I can to support others. 

There’s also a lot to be said for just laughing together. Us independents know each other’s worlds in a way that nobody else does so you’ll likely blow off steam and that can help reset your approach in a life changing way. I’ve made friends I’ll know forever in this community. It’s given me hope, reassurance and relief when I needed it the most. It’s so important for women to come together to help other women. It is one of the greatest resources we have. 

5. Finding your tribe feels awesome

Not every group will be for everyone. You need to find the people that feel right for you — and there are plenty of options so it’s easy to do. Even just with Holly & Co, you can follow me on Instagram, sign up to my weekly emails, tune in to my Business Pharmacies or join our Facebook group. You’ll soon be in touch with all kinds of founders from all over the UK — all ready to share business-saving advice and guidance that can be pure gold. Just know that you don’t ever need to struggle on alone. There’s a whole community out here who absolutely can’t wait to meet and help you.


  1. WARC Report ‘The role of community commerce’ 

Products featured:

  1. ‘Community’ one-word painted sign, by Modo Creative
  2. ‘Our community is our strength’ print, by Rebecca Strickson
  3. Facebook embroidery commission, by Make & Mend

“It’s like having Holly Tucker in your pocket” and what could be better than that?! Sign up to our weekly emails here.

Share this article

Back to Mental Wellbeing