As a small business owner in a crowded market it can often feel hard to compete with the large corporations. However by joining forces with other small businesses you can harness the power of the community and grow together. Whether formally or informally, seek out collaborative relationships with other like-minded businesses and individuals and stop thinking of them as competitors, rather as partners.
Below we have highlighted a few examples of how you could join forces with your fellow small business owners:
1. Join a Networking Group for Small Business Owners
In the small business world business is driven by referrals and connections. There are hundreds if not thousands of MeetUp and networking groups across BC focussed on small businesses, which encourage a community of collaboration, support and most importantly referrals. Use the groups to build your relationships and gain advice from fellow entrepreneurs.
To find these groups visit Meetup.com, your local chamber of commerce, your industry association, local coffee shop notice board or the Small Business BC events calendar.
2. Join an Online Community
If your target market is not really in the local community, or if you do not feel comfortable with in-person events, why not join a social network or professional forum. There are many online communities and forums out there which encourage the group to support each other in developing their business, refer business to each other and build partnerships.
3. Remember to Give as well as Receive
Networking is not just a one way street. It is just as important to keep a look out for opportunities for fellow small businesses. By bringing opportunities to those in your network you will attract attention to your business and bring it to the front of their minds. As the old saying goes –give and you shall receive.
4. Change Your Suppliers to Small Businesses
Adopt a ‘support your local community’ mindset for your own business. Where possible seek to work with local independent businesses as your suppliers, vendors and service providers. If you are encouraging your clients to support small businesses and work with you, it is important to listen to your own words.
5. Create Your Own Network
Already have a set of local suppliers who you trust, or a set of competitors who you would trust to look after your clients if things get too hectic? Create your own informal network and trade contacts and work with them. It can be as simple as guest blogging on other businesses blogs or recommending the other businesses on Facebook and Twitter. Or you can go one step further and seek partnerships where you only refer each other to clients providing each other with a small kick back for the referral. Linking with these businesses will bring added value to both you and your customers. As well as providing an opportunity for those businesses to return the favour and expand the visibility of your business to their own audience.