Build a Small Business Network to Help Your Business Succeed

As a small business owner, even though surrounded by several individuals, you will always feel isolated.

How can this be? The reason is that many owners of small businesses keep their business problems to themselves. For that matter, they don’t want staff, or clients, or suppliers, or family and friends, to know that they have business challenges that could be hard to handle.You may want to check out Local Business Spotlight for more.

Consider creating a business network to help you handle your problems and expand your business, if this describes your business climate.

What is a network of small businesses? In this case, it is a network of small businesses that work together to help each other solve their business problems and also to help each other manage and expand their businesses, whether similar or different.

For similar firms, let’s explore an example of a small business network.

A group of eight to twelve business owners create a peer business network in the same sector but in non-competing locations. They meet (either face-to-face or online) to discuss their small business plan and concerns on a regularly scheduled day and time (maybe monthly or quarterly) and each request and receive input from the rest of the community — all established business owners of similar businesses.

Some of the discussion could concentrate on aspects of human resources, such as training, recruiting, firing, turn-over rates, and comparable wages or salaries. Other discussions could involve common customer-centered problems such as turn-around times, over-promising and under-delivery, efficiency, service, and challenging customer handling. Some sessions may concentrate on business planning, marketing planning, planning for sales or planning outcomes.

Business owners could meet through national or international industry trade associations in order to form this kind of group. Participants must sign confidentiality agreements and non-compete agreements in order to make this form of network work—even though companies are non-competing today, there is no assurance that they will not compete tomorrow. At the beginning of setting up this form of network, it is vital that legal advice is obtained — your group would need to know what is permitted or not permitted by government competition acts.

The benefit of this kind of network is that the industry is already recognised and understood by all participants and can bring that experience and expertise to the discussions.