I've experienced some pretty fantastic startup communities this year and am more convinced than ever that it matters not where you build your business, but with whom you build it.
I'm not just talking about co-founders or early employees, interns or investors. The Startup America folks hit the nail on the head when they categorized people as champions, though I'm not defining a champion in quite the same way as they do. For me, a champion is anyone who has made a contribution to your success.
Find the champions for your venture. It could be your family and friends, or it can be your advisors and consultants. It can even be your competitors. Any person from whom you can learn and grow is a champion for your business. People that introduce you to important contacts; or warn you about bad experiences with vendors; your first pilot users, or your 100th paying customer - they are your champions.
Remember that people are what matters. You're building something to help/fix/solve/support/promote/advance another person. Even if you're selling a B2B solution, it's the people that buy, install and integrate your product that matter.
On that note, I'd like to extend a sincere thanks to my champions from this past year. In my first official full year as an independent contractor without an "employer", I simply could not have made it without you!
Thank you and Happy New Year!