The Small Business Advantage

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We’re kicking off an ongoing series of articles related to the tremendous contributions of small and mid-sized businesses to our lives and our communities.

The 3 C’s Formula
Maintaining and growing relationship networks requires the concept of the 3 C’s—communication, collaboration, and community— and by keeping these aspects of networking in mind, small businesses of all kinds can carry on their success.

Timeline illustrates the competitiveness of local business throughout the various market paradigms of previous decades and also provides a potential look into the future competitive landscape for small businesses. *Source material by: “hitechofficeproducts” (see above link for more info)

And while small businesses have the advantage of being in touch with their communities, they often don’t spend enough time connecting with their peer business groups and communicating with other business leaders.  Of course, there are 2 different kinds of networking relationships for business professionals: Inter-company or B2B; and Customer-direct or B2C.

Part 1 or our review here is to look at building a strong network with other businesses in your local area (B2B). Stay tuned for Part 2 when we dig into developing deeper B2C relationships.

Works Well With Others
There is strength in numbers. Building strong relationships, especially locally, can lead to business opportunities – like marketing partnerships, technology sharing, peer group coaching and even sales lead sharing. Strong relationships
are formed based on trust developed through this solid network of contacts in your local community. Talking with your local professional peers helps to strengthen ties and develop trust.

A good starting place for any small business owner or entrepreneur is to join a chapter of your local Chamber of Commerce or even get involved with a nearby business network.
Why? Well, the results of a research study conducted by the Schapiro Group showed that businesses that joined the Chamber of Commerce increased customer favorability by 44%, and increased the likelihood of future patronage by 64% – simple but effective!

Having a diverse business network gives small businesses a competitive edge in the marketplace, especially over larger firms. Referrals for customers and peers looking for experts in aligned businesses deepens your relationships on both sides of that equation – the customers is happy for the referral and so is the other business owner!

A helpful exercise is to brainstorm the ways in which your organization approaches its networking activities, and if/how the local community is involved. Visualize the impact of improving your organization’s existing community networking system, and how those changes would benefit both you and your community. Then identify the bottlenecks in your current networking approach. What factors are preventing you from finding, engaging and enjoying participation in an efficient network?

Organize the Chaos
While expanding and sustaining quality relationship networks should be the focal point for local businesses, often times the clutter of our modern technology makes it difficult to stay in touch with the community. Switching between devices & apps for different tasks—getting lost in endless e-mail threads—and finally compiling, organizing, & securing all of your data. It’s easy to get lost in the apparatus of networking versus the human-centric, actual connection!

It may seem simple, but the framework of the 3 C’s is a tried-&-true method to continued small business success. Through networking you can develop strong community bonds through communication and collaboration with other business leaders.

Looking for some additional business network building resources? Try these helpful links:
Small Business Administration (SBA)
Top 10 networks for local businesses
Business Network International (BNI)

As ever, if there’s a way we can help, let us know. We’re pretty good with both communication and collaboration tools.

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