It is no secret small business owners work long and hard. Understanding how to leverage community resources is essential. So how do you capture that extra edge for your small business?
Community resources should be understood and leveraged wisely. Over the years I have explored and used various community resources (some more than others). The fit and benefits for the various community resources ultimately depend upon the business owner and the business. The following is an overview of community resources I have leveraged over the years.
When first starting a business, a wide range of skills are suddenly needed, from marketing to human resources to sales to finance to inventory management and much more. Furthermore, it’s not only about making your product well, it’s about establishing work practices and business infrastructure, such as accounting software, services (accountants, bookkeepers, lawyers), reliable supply sources and much more—all while running the business within budget.
The good news is that there are resources that may help with getting an idea of how to start and move in the right direction, covering areas such as recruitment, training and sage business advice, as well as micro-financing and micro-lending. Organizations such as SBA, ACCION and local universities provide advice and resources. If you have certain challenges in your small business, it is worthwhile to explore these types of public/government resources and determine how they may help.
Hyper-Local Community Associations
In Logan Square, as in many other communities, there are local chambers and neighborhood retail associations to encourage local shopping to build a stronger community.
Many communities, including Logan Square, also have established hyper-local, hyper-targeted communities around a centrally important initiative, such as I AM Logan Square (@IAMLoganSquare), which supports arts and culture within Logan Square. These types of specialized local organizations are excellent sources for small businesses to tap into a highly concentrated knowledge and resource base within the community.
Additionally LoganSquarist is an example of a hyper-local organization with a mission to connect and build a strong community. In doing that, the organization has a finger on the pulse of the community, while also providing a forum for local resources to connect to one another.
Establish a Junto
The concept of a Junto was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1727. As a business owner, I had done something similar for myself, and found it valuable. This is effectively a support group for small business owners to share their challenges with trusted and respected small business peers.
As an example, there was a time I needed to find a good bookkeeping service, and the last approach I wanted to use was “trial and error” in finding the right person. I shared this internal business challenge with a group of noncompetitive peer small business owners, and they had plenty of local, high-quality references to offer based on personal experiences. As a small business owner, I have found this type of peer group invaluable.
Finally, and potentially the most important consideration before starting to tap into community resources: Your involvement with community groups will demand effort, time and take away from other business activity. Choose carefully which community initiatives you will pursue, if any. Keep in mind the value derived from the community resources must bring significant benefit and value to your small business.
Photo: Arielle Thomas