Starting and running a small business can be extremely rewarding, but the venture is not without its set of challenges and stressors. There are more than 28 million small businesses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which means you are not alone. If you are in the process of launching an entrepreneurial ventureor are facing a few obstacles with an existing business, don’t be afraid to reach out for some help from experienced business owners through online support communities and offline networking groups.
SBA Small Business Development Centers
The U.S. Small Business Administration maintains several Small Business Development Centers around the country. These are designed to provide assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs in the form of free business consulting services, affordable training programs and valuable guidance. SBDC assistance is available in every state, and many centers are located in area community colleges and universities. Business owners can apply for counseling to explore opportunities and access the resources they need to manage their business successfully.
This popular magazine’s website is chock full of valuable tips, resource guides and information relevant to entrepreneurs across all industries. Fromproductivity tips of successful peopleto how-to guides explaining the ins and outs of online marketing, the site serves as a one-stop shop for any business owner looking for advice from leading experts in the industry. The company also runs an Entrepreneur Coaching program where business owners can work through a strategy session and learn how to run and grow their business with the help of an experienced coach.
Launching a startupcan be overwhelming. Entrepreneurs who need help making business connections or want to learn the ropes from seasoned professionals can join StartupNation for insider tips and strategies. The site features comprehensive guides on starting and managing a startup, and members can access private groups and forums to participate in discussions and contribute success stories – or share challenges. This is a growing online community with a wealth of resources for business owners in any industry.
Small Biz Nation on LinkedIn
Get connected with LinkedIn for small business advice from business owners around the globe. This group is comprised of industry experts and technology leaders from HP and Intel – participants can get advice from business marketing strategists, operations managers, consultants and CEOs. With more than 20,500 members, this is one of the more active LinkedIn online networking groups and offers a wealth of opportunities for small business owners to make connections and gain valuable insights from leading experts.
American Express Open Forum
In addition to its library of tips and guides for running and maintaining a business, the American Express Open Forum hosts a series of webinars and in-person events at various locations throughout the year. The online articles and guides can be especially helpful for small business owners who are looking for expert advice from other small business owners. Entrepreneurs and small business owners looking for networking opportunities can participate in boot camp sessions, promote Small Business Saturday events and get to know other business owners through conferences held in larger cities throughout the year.
Small Business Forum
One of the larger online business forums dedicated to small business owners, Small Business Forum features a range of topics related to business opportunities, franchises, sales and marketing and business law, among others. Even though it can be challenging to find answers to specific topics, it’s fairly easy to get a response from active users and participate in discussions. Visitors can introduce themselves in a dedicated section to get to know other community members, get advice about writing a business plan and take advantage of low-cost services available to the community at large.
So what are you waiting for? Get to being entrepreneurial!