Many entrepreneurs work alone or out of a home office. The absence of co-workers can lead to loneliness—not to mention a lack of support and feedback from your peers.

I’ve been working solo for almost 13 years and though I love working independently, I couldn’t manage without my creative group: 8 independent graphic designers that affectionately refer to ourselves as “extraJumbo.”

When we first created the group, our goal was to collaborate on a promotional postcard mailing. The mailing was successful and we continued our regular meetings after the project was completed. Several years (and new members) later, we’ve discovered the group holds many benefits besides simply business promotion: it’s turned into a group of “co-workers” who can brainstorm, collaborate, and support each other in our creative businesses.

Here are some ways a creative group can help you get out of the house and grow your business.

·         Promotion opportunities

If you are promoting your small business with a group, you can combine your time, resources and contacts to be more efficient and reach a larger audience. With our promotional mailing, we reached 5 times as many people as we would have individually.

·         Support group

A creative group is the perfect place to reach out with industry, technical, or software questions. It can also just be a place to vent during a rough day.

·         Portfolio review

Feedback from your peers is essential, but sometimes hard to get when you work solo. In my creative group, we get together a few times a year to review and critique each other’s portfolios—and offer project feedback as necessary.

·         Referral source

A creative group can also be a great source for referrals. Since you know each other’s style or specialty, you can easily share referrals or collaborate on projects. My creative group has saved me on several occasions when I was overloaded with work.

·         Lunch buddy

No co-worker to go out to lunch with? One of your fellow creative group members will likely be happy to leave their house and join you. 

How to start a creative group

The easiest way to start a group is to talk to a few like-minded or industry friends. Decide on a frequency for your meetings (weekly, monthly) and stick to it. Creating an email list or Google group can help manage conversations and resources—especially if your group becomes larger. You may intentionally decide to keep your group small (as we did), though if your goal is to grow into a larger group, a website like may be useful.