Starting and running a business is one of the most challenging endeavors anyone can undertake, especially where competition, fast-moving market conditions or uncertain business conditions pose huge obstacles for new business owners. Even under ideal market and economic conditions, entrepreneurs can benefit from the advice and support of other professionals.
All 5 of these business support mechanisms can be easily accessed and work in concert to provide an optimal amount of support.
Starting with the obvious, if your business is associated with a particular trade group or association then it is essential that you join it. Industry groups are often the best resource for timely information, business tools and marketing data.
Non industry specific groups like the Chamber of Commerce or similar business groups in your area, can be a great way to keep up with what’s going on locally and nationally and also to meet potential customers. They usually sponsor local or regional meetings that are gold mines for networking and gathering vital business information.
People of all interests gather in weekly or monthly social settings where ideas are exchanged, pitches are made, relationships are developed and business is conducted. Networking meetings can be found that match your business purpose, your occupational specialty, and even your target market. It is probably the best setting in which to share in the tribulations and successes of other, like-minded people. Online sites like www.Meetup.com can be a great way to find groups with similar social or business interests.
The more obvious networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide avenues for people to join niche communities where people gather online in forums and chat rooms to exchange ideas and ask questions. By participating in forums attended by your customers, you have a chance to make your presence and expertise known by providing answers and information. If you have a web presence, active forum participation can increase traffic to your site.
You can create a more high level, focused support group for yourself out of relationships built from networking meetings or online forums. This is a more formal meeting of a half a dozen or so people conducted monthly. They are usually designed as workshops that include a few hours of discussion on topics of interest to the group and each month one member is responsible for bringing in a guest speaker who offers a unique perspective or expertise.
Find a Mentor
The most effective and direct source of support and advice is through a mentor or coach, ideally one who shares either your business purpose or your entrepreneurial vision. A mentor is someone who is successful and, more importantly, seasoned in the trials and tribulations of running a business. A good mentor speaks his mind and provides invaluable feedback on the positive and negative aspects of your business. They are successful business people who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with you.
If you feel as though your progress has slowed to crawl and you find yourself doing the same thing over and over expecting different results, put some effort into building your business support network.