~by Eileen O’Shanassy~
Making connections with customers is the first priority of many small business owners. The second big priority should be making connections with other small business owners. Too often the focus of small business owners in the startup phase is on ensuring business stability and increasing customers. However, it is in the initial phase of a small business startup that making connections with other small business owners can produce business stability and increase your bottom line. This depends mainly on the small business owners’ investment of time and their dedication to the community. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas to help you get started making those connections.
There are several ways to make connections locally and nationally with other small business owners. The first and most beneficial is through the specific industry small business owners are linked to. Industry associations promote businesses in their industry and hold meetings for thousands of business owners. Attend industry meetings to become familiar with other small business owners. For example, SEIA, the Solar Energy Industries Association, links small business owners of solar energy companies and also provides support to members. There are other industry associations that provide programs and current information on industry developments. This is a great way to make connections with other small business owners and to assess the volume of competition for market share.
Making connections with other small business owners locally is as simple as taking part in local business community activities. In some cities and towns, there are special events dedicated specifically to small business owners. These events are an opportunity to become familiar with the local base of small business owners whether their business products are custom embroidery, or services such as HVAC or computer repair. Use these services when you can and support other local ventures you see going on.
Most every town or city has a Chamber of Commerce or similar organization. Become a member of these commerce organizations. In addition to making solid business connections with other small business owners, most of these commerce organizations function at the regional or state levels. This expands the potential for links to small business owners over a broader base. You can use these as an excuse to show off your product and sell your items as well. Custom aluminum carrying cases make traveling to these organizations simple. And they provide for easy access to your wares, whether you sell earrings, clothing, or electronics.
Another great way to discover the most beneficial connections to other small business owners is to check the SIC Code listings at the siccode.com website. This site will not only define the business of other small business owners, but also provide lists of business names and links. Tips for making connections with other small business owners should include regular visits to the Small Business Administration site.
Eileen O’Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking and kayaking. Check her out on Twitter @eileenoshanassy.