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IoD 99: more than just a start-up network

27 Oct 2017

Regardless of how well you know an industry, when you embrace your entrepreneurial calling and begin work on a new start-up venture, things can escalate very quickly. And not always in a good way.

Seemingly unreplicable success stories are trumpeted in industry press, and all too familiar news of pitfalls and failures can really add exponential pressure to getting a business up and running.

Everyone needs a support network. For some that comes in the form of friends and family - loved ones who can share the burden, bear the brunt of fears and frustrations, and encourage and inspire burgeoning dreams.

One group of entrepreneurs have established a different way to alleviate anxieties and placate their mental health stresses. United by their IoD 99 memberships, the trio of founders have instead looked inwards, at the start-up community established by the Institute of Directors, to gripe, troubleshoot, and motivate each other in their respective endeavours.

Business partners James Morris and Thom Gibbons joined the IoD 99 in its infancy over two years ago, where they met fellow telecoms entrepreneur Emma Clarke, founder of Brayford Numbers. James and Thom run B2B telecoms consultancy Babba, while Emma’s company provide virtual telephone numbers to international clients.

While some IoD 99 members will come together to provide practical solutions to problems with their business, such as Tara Mei and her 99 collaborators for Bread and Jam Festival, James, Thom and Emma tend to focus on a more psychological benefit.

“It’s great that we can share good days and bad with friends,” says James. “Even though we operate in very similar fields, we all experience our own challenges and issues on a daily basis, but we can help each other when we’ve experienced something similar.”

“It’s a group that’s not censored in any way,” adds Thom. “We’ve had tears over the phone because of work, that sort of thing. It’s powerful that we’ve developed that relationship and that we’re now able to talk about all sorts of stuff.

“Outside of the business sphere, if your friends and family aren’t entrepreneurs then it can be very lonely,” says Emma. “You start to see their successes in a very structural way, and question why you’re doing things on your own.”

“No matter how much you grow and employ new people, it can still be isolating at times. So it’s great to have the IoD 99 and groups of people to talk to who are in the same boat.”

We know that starting your own business can be a lonely journey at points and we are extremely proud of our IoD 99 community and the way they come together to support each other when things don’t quite go accordingly to plan. There are people here to talk, help, or just be an ear to listen.

Metal health is an area the IoD is championing and is a topic the whole organisation feels passionately about. We have put together a hub of free mental health resources and first hand accounts for anyone who wants to find out more about the help and support available, and how we can all make sure our businesses are supportive, open and inclusive.

Watch Alex’s full chat with the group, above. Got a collaboration story with some other amazing 99-ers? Let us know!

Find out more about the IoD's amazing community of start-up founders and entrepreneurs, the IoD 99.

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