Small businesses are the backbone of the economy of most countries. A quick look at the figures in the USA proves this with the 30.2 million presently making up 99.9% of the whole business sector. If you are thinking of starting up your own small business, then these are certainly encouraging numbers.
However, to succeed as a small business owner you need to understand it will not happen by itself. Hard work, dedication, and a solid business plan are needed to make it work. With 1 in 12 US businesses closing each year, it is vital to do all you can to avoid this happening to you.
Cast your net wide
A major part of any business plan should be networking. That means engaging with other business owners online or at offline events. The aim is to build positive relationships with them that will benefit you both over time.
The issue with networking for many is that it fills them with a sense of dread. After all, talking to strangers and trying to sell your business to them is a scary thought. The good news for any new business owner is that it does not have to be like that.
Lady Barbara Judge is a networking expert and is certainly someone to take advice from in this area. Over her career in business, she has used her networking skills to help others, create opportunities for women in business and forge key business relationships. Her approach is simply to see networking as a chance to meet new people, talk to them and not worry about selling your own company. If you take this approach, not only will networking be more enjoyable but you will get more from it in terms of business benefits.
Your network can help in times of trouble
Following on from taking the above approach to networking, it is important to think about building friendships when you network. Why is this so essential? Very often, it will only become clear when your business is in trouble or you need a helping hand.
At any low points, your network will be there to support you. If you have built up a network of genuine friends, they will be happy to assist. Whether it is letting you use some of their space if your office gets flooded or lending money if you have cash flow problems, networking can often be the thing to save your business.
But what other reasons are there to make networking a priority?
One of the major advantages that networking can bring is the generation of leads or referrals. This is especially true if you network outside your sector but also within it. You may, for example, be a content writer who knows a web development company from networking at your local small business event. If they design a website for someone who also asks if they know anyone who can write content for it, guess whose details they will pass on?
In essence, this is how lead generation works through networking and it can be a great source of new business. Let’s not forget one other important thing here – the leads from networking are much hotter and more likely to convert than from other marketing channels.
Helps build your brand presence
Another reason networking is so significant is that it helps to build your brand presence across your local community, online and around your sector. This is very important for all small businesses as it means you build authority in your industry and attract more business opportunities. This could translate into more sales to consumers who have heard of you through other companies but also more B2B partnerships. It is another way to market your organization and get your name out there.
Networking helps you become a more confident businessperson
It is not only your business that will benefit from networking. Talking to different people online and at physical events is superb for building your confidence. Over time, this will help you to become more self-assured and more at ease in similar situations. When you are closing a big deal with another business you might not know well, the experience can help greatly. Being more confident will help you connect with people and will help your business to grow in the long term.
Build your network and help others
As noted above, while your business network is crucial for helping your company thrive, you should also be sure to help others. This reciprocal arrangement is at the heart of networking and what makes it so special. Making it as a small business is tough on your own and this is why networking becomes essential in so many ways.