Small business owners often find themselves juggling a myriad of diverse responsibilities, from finance and human resources to sales and marketing. Your expertise in architecture, engineering, accounting or law may not make you an expert in human resources or finance, but as a small business owner, you're often tasked with exactly that — making strategic decisions outside of your home base.
Joining an online community can help small business owners like you gain access to the information, support, and direction required to successfully grow and scale. These virtual discussion boards give business owners the ability to connect with one another to troubleshoot common issues, get answers to their questions, and seek guidance on complicated scenarios.
But joining the wrong online group can lead to spam emails and distractions from your work, which oftentimes results in inefficiency — and sometimes even misinformation. Finding an online community in your industry that provides you with the support network you need requires intention and purpose as you search, and if you're like many small business owners, you may find that being a part of more than one group best supports your overall goals and objectives.
Here are some tips to help you get started in your search.
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU NEED
Consider your areas of expertise, as well as the areas in which you could use a little more support. Is there a software or platform you're using where additional proficiency would be beneficial? Is there a specific task or objective that proves to be more challenging for you than others? Target your search to meet your needs, and avoid playing roulette to decide which groups to join (and which email notifications you'll receive in return).
CONSIDER THESE WELL-KNOWN COMMUNITIES
Once you've identified what you're hoping to achieve by joining an online community, you can start to evaluate which ones might work well for you. Some of the most well-known discussion forums for business owners are as follows:
- StartupNation is specifically for entrepreneurs who need connections and/or insight as they start new business ventures
- Small Business Forum offers insight on a myriad of topics, from sales and marketing to business law and new business opportunities
- American Express Open Forum provides training and development through webinars and in-person events (when safe). Small business owners are also able to network and discuss a variety of topics amongst themselves.
CHOOSE VENDORS THAT OFFER A COMMUNITY
When you're choosing the platforms you'll use for accounting, invoicing, human resources, contract management, and project management, consider the vendor's entire offering as opposed to just the product alone. When a vendor offers modules for everything you need — and then couples it with a community setting for learning and troubleshooting — you're more likely to get the support you need from real users, as well as engage in ongoing learning.
Keep in mind that while these types of vendor communities often engage in discussion surrounding the solution — how to use it, how to troubleshoot, etc. — topics ranging from business strategy and daily business functions like accounting and human resources are also covered. Many clients find that they're able to get all the support they need in a single community when they take this route.
COMMIT TO ENGAGING
As a small business owner, we know how it goes: it's easy to get so bogged down in your business that you forget to work on it. Once you find a community that adds value to you and your business, commit to engaging at least once a day, even if it's only for five minutes. Whether you log in to see topics that are rising to the top of the discussion thread, add value by sharing your own experience, ask a burning question, or build a network of like-minded peers, your five-minute commitment briefly pulls you out of your business so that you can work on it. This can result in better compliance, strategy, and long-term growth.
ABOUT THE CORE COMMUNITY
When you partner with BQE's 360° business management platform, you gain immediate access to the CORE Community, which consists of a group of entrepreneurs and small business owners who share insight, advice, and support, while simultaneously building relationships that propel their organizations forward. If you use a combination of solutions — like BQE's CORE, along with Quickbooks, OneDrive, or DesignPay — you'll find plenty of business owners working with the exact same integrations.
To learn more about BQE CORE, which was designed specifically for architects, engineers, and accountants, request a quote today and we'll deliver it in less than 30 minutes. Our pricing is based per module, which means a la carte solutions that work with you, as well as for you. And as an added bonus, once you decide to move forward, you'll be invited to our CORE Community, where you'll gain access to a vast network of experts in your field, extensive discussion, and valuable information surrounding small business operations and CORE itself.