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    4 Replies Latest reply on May 29, 2008 9:13 PM by NatOnline

    Online Communities for Small Businesses, Is it a new trend with great benefits for business owners?

    mpoweringu Wayfarer
      So, I'm not sure if the moderators here will actually post this topic, but I have started to notice a trend that there are more and more online communities popping up for small business owners. Now, I think that this is a good thing seeing as how our particular "target market" has always been one of the most underserved markets in the commercial world of B2B (business-to-business.)

      What I'm now wondering is, what do we all get from these online communities that actually help us grow and/or change our businesses to attain greater success?

      I recently learned of a BRAND NEW (and I do mean brand new as it is still in beta 'testing' release) online community for small business owners called What'sMyAdvice.com (sort of catchy!) (the URL is www.whatsmyadvice.com)

      NOTE: Let me make this statement first, I know the creator of this site and he asked me to send an article to post for testing. So if you go visit this site, you will see the same article that I have written and posted here and as of right now, it is the only article. So I know quite a bit about this whole project, but it has just got me thinking about what these types of sites really offer for a small business owner like myself!?

      For me, it has become a few things. First and foremost, it is a great place for me to do two things I'm most passionate about... and that is learning and helping others. I love business, I mean I LOVE business! My wife will tell you that I could talk to a complete stranger about their business for hours and never tire of it! I love helping people turn their dreams of a successful business into a reality. It's why I do what I do and why I have created my firm! So on sites like this... I get to post replies, advice, and (hopefully) stories that can inspire, educate, and help other small business owners become more successful. In return (again hopefully,) I gain credibility, new business relationships, potential clients contacting me, free advertising for my business through a link to my business web site, and an increase in my own knowledge and understanding of different topics by reading what others post here.

      So, what is it that you all gain from being a member of online communities such as this?

      P.S. - I will admit that I like this new site I mentioned above. There is a section in it for members to post reviews of their favorite books on business, software to run their business, and soon (as I understand it) a section to rate online and offline service providers. The gist of it (as it has been explained) is that we small business owners can share with others what books have helped us, what software has worked the best in our businesses, and who we would recommend using for a service such as online merchant accounts. Maybe this site can add those features since it already has a great member-base and I think it would be very useful!
        • Re: Online Communities for Small Businesses, Is it a new tre
          websolutions Tracker
          The site you have recommend has very few members and articles thus not very useful. I like the design and ease of use but I don't see how people could benefit at this point. Also, it does not look like it is getting any relevant traffic so it will take time and money before that portal becomes somewhat useful.

          Best,
          WS
            • Re: Online Communities for Small Businesses, Is it a new tre
              LUCKIEST Guide
              Good answer. As compared to this site that just turned 100.
              Congratulations, Bank of America small business online.
              LUCKIEST
              • Re: Online Communities for Small Businesses, Is it a new tre
                mpoweringu Wayfarer
                You are absolutely correct websolutions. I have recently become a part of the team that is working to launch the portal that I used as an example and probably should have mentioned that it is actually only in beta release and has not been publicly launched in any way. Before I got totally involved, I was asking (with permission) for any people on this site to take a look at it and tell me what you think about it. (Basically, I was wanting to see what others thought who I know already use online community sites (like this one) to connect to other small business owners and communicate digitally. So to your point... yup, there are only a few members, hopefully that will only be until the full PR campaign is inacted and new visitors will begin visiting the site.

                The question I was actually posing in this forum was this: are these online communities helpful to small business owners, both to those seeking advice and those who are giving advice. I was posing the question because I had been approached to get involved in this project and I wanted to get a consensus of what other people thought (hence why I asked here.) Is this a trend? Or do you actually find sites like this one useful in your business (whether to identify potential clients or to gain valuable knowledge?) What are your thoughts?
              • Re: Online Communities for Small Businesses, Is it a new trend with great benefits for business owners?
                NatOnline Tracker

                The gain from being a member of online communities such as this for me, particularly for e-commerce, is sharing experience and to bring more information to new online store owners.

                Leaning from professional SEO and participate to expert events offered by Bank of America.