Earlier this fall, I had the privilege of being part of the Founders Only Retreat, organized by Emerging Prairie. A gathering of founders from North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, the retreat was an opportunity to unplug, create a support network and invest time in reflection away from the day-to-day noise that we all juggle.
What was most obvious was the absolute worth that comes from connecting with people in your shoes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a nonprofit or a late-stage company hitting major revenue milestones. It doesn’t matter if it’s a team of one or a team of fifty. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or who you’re selling to. What matters is that founders need founders.
Founders need the validation of being able to share their stories, challenges and successes with someone else who understands how valuable just being heard is. Founders need people to view their problem through a different lens and if asked, offer perspective on how they faced a similar challenge. Founders need a jolt of support when the hard stuff is coming faster than the good stuff and the creep of fear of failure sets in. Founders need to know they can ask questions about how to handle their first key hire, compensation packages and what giving away part of their business may feel like. Founders need to be able to wonder out loud about fundraising, a world that is overly confusing and can feel like the rules of the game keep getting changed.
What I know more than anything is that female founders need this just as much as male founders. Female founders need to give themselves permission to step away from the hustle and personal commitments and be okay with investing in themselves for two days. Their companies need them to do it.
Founders, mark your calendars for next year: November 7-9 @ Maplelag Resort in Callaway, MN.