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5 Top Online Communities for Small Business

5 Top Online Communities for Small Business

We all need advice from time to time and this is especially true for business owners. There are numerous challenges that need to be tackled on a regular basis, from staff to money to growth. Even if your business is doing well, dealing with these issues is simply the nature of owning a business.

Business owners also regularly need support and advice to keep taking the business to the next level. Feeling supported and able to reach out for help when needed, can be the difference between giving up or pushing forward at times in your business. As a small business owner (or an aspiring one), one of the greatest resources you want to take advantage of are online communities for small businesses.

Communities allow like-minded entrepreneurs to connect, share experiences, advice and tools to succeed in business. There are numerous advantages to being part of a community, here are my top four.

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1.  Access to a wealth of information

You have all the information you might need in one place. All the communities provide key information from business planning and marketing to growth strategies and building a website. Almost all business related topics are covered in these communities and you have a free resource center with heaps of information to help you in any area of your business. You can learn the best practices, share, and receive advice from other small business owners who have faced similar challenges as you.

2.  Get the support you didn’t know you needed

It is important to surround yourself with people who will support and help you to get to the next level in your business. If you want good advice, listen to those who are where you want to be, those are the people who you want to take advice from. In the communities, you can reach out for support through the forums, posting questions and by participating in discussions. You might not think you need support, but when you feel supported, you will understand how valuable this is for your growth.

3.  Free marketing tool

Communities are also great marketing tools. When you join the community, take time to create a strong profile. Make sure that your information is clear and captivating to anyone reading it. Always include your website address, who you work with, and what solution you provide. Finding some potential clients would be great, but this shouldn’t be seen as the main objective. It’s just an added benefit.

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4.  Build relationships and network

These types of communities are the hub for building relationships and networking for free. You can network with other small business owners and talk about your business and what you do. Networking allows you to generate leads and increase your business. Networking also opens up more opportunities for your business and you can build some great connections.

You will meet amazing people and you could even find the perfect joint venture partners to work with. Building relationships is key to success. No one succeeds completely alone.

Top Online Communities for Small Business

There are many online small business communities or even groups available for you to join. What might be best for you however, might not be the best for someone else. Before joining a community, take a look at a few and get a feel for what the community offers and if you like it.

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Here are a few of the top online communities to get you started

Start Up Nation was founded by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. It is a free service so there is no charge to join. It is the top leading community for entrepreneurs and provides you with everything you need to know to grow your business.It has a wealth of forums, groups to join, articles to learn from, blogs, networking for members, and much more.

This amazing community provides you with guides, templates, videos, articles and information in all forms and a blog to share your ideas. They also have a group on LinkedIn where you can participate in discussions, share, and get advice on specific topics and connect.

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The Small Business Bonfire is a smaller community, but it is top of my list. It is also a free community and you have access to amazing tools for small business owners which you definitely can’t get anywhere else. It also provides a forum, groups and networking. Other communities definitely worth checking out are:

  1. Partner UP – Social networking for small businesses.
  2. Entrepreneur.com – Everything you ever need to know in one stop, definitely worth checking out.

If none of the 5 communities provide you with what you are really looking for, why not get creative and build your own community? Building a community is definitely time consuming but there are so many benefits to you as a business owner that if you can do it, do it! You will need to be very active and provide high quality content, connect on the forums and keep the community growing. Communities don’t need to encompass everything from the beginning, rather view it is a place for like minded people to connect, share ideas, resources and learn from others. You can do this via a forum, a membership site or even a mastermind group to get you started. So what are you waiting for? If you feel like you could use some more support and guidance in your business, take the first step now and reach out to a community. If you know of other communities that should have been listed here… please share below! To your success!

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on May 20, 2020

What Are Analytical Skills (And How to Strengthen Them For Success)

What Are Analytical Skills (And How to Strengthen Them For Success)

Everybody makes bad decisions. Some people, however, are more capable of making better decisions that inch them closer to success.

These individuals are not ruled by emotions, desires, or hunches. Rather, they depend on their analytical skills to overcome challenges regardless of urgency or complexity.

What Are Analytical Skills?

According to Richards J. Heuer Jr., a former veteran of the CIA,[1]

“Thinking analytically is a skill like carpentry or driving a car. It can be taught, it can be learned, and it can improve with practice. But unlike other skills, it is not learned by sitting in a classroom and being told how to do it. Analysts learn by doing.”

Analytical skills can be considered as one of the critical life skills that are not taught in schools. It comprises of visualization, critical thinking, and abilities for gathering and processing information.

Here’s a closer look at some of these abilities:

Visualization

Also tied to a person’s creativity, visualization is the ability to predict the possible outcomes of strategies and actions. In a professional setting, visualization involves the analysis of data – often through illustrations like charts, graphs, and detailed lists.

Critical Thinking

Simply put, a person’s ability to think critically can be measured by his or her consistency in creating reasonable decisions. It pertains to the ability to evaluate information, siphon what’s useful, and draw conclusions without being swayed by emotions.

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As a critical thinker, you’ll find yourself challenging assertions and finding loopholes in proposed solutions.

Computing

Whether you like it or not, you need to be comfortable with numbers if you want to sharpen your analytical skills. Bear in mind that computing encompasses other skills like cost analysis, budgeting, and performing general calculations.

In business, you need to use computations when weighing the risks and benefits of any given strategy.

Problem-Solving

Remember that analytical skills are used not just to understand problems, but also to develop the most suitable course or courses of action. This relates to your goal-setting skills, which involve breaking down and prioritizing between objectives.

Resource Management

Lastly, analytical skills involve some degree of resource management depending on the task at hand.

For example, professionals with a tight schedule must know how to effectively manage their own time – also known as one of the most important resources in the world.

Business leaders, on the other hand, must know how to manage company resources, including cash and manpower. Take note that the definition of analytical skills may change to match the requirements of a specific situation.

For example, upon hiring a web developer, analytical skills may refer to the ability to determine the needs of online users, understand web analytics for optimization, and identify visual elements that can match a company’s brand.

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The skillset above, however, should be applicable in most if not all scenarios.

Develop Your Analytical Skills for More Growth Opportunities

There’s no question that the right decisions lead to positive results. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a business or simply trying to climb the corporate ladder. By training your analytical skills, you position yourself for more growth opportunities while staying away from negligible actions you will regret.

For example, you plan to launch a new startup in your local community – but struggle to decide the niche you want to enter. Since you’ve been a technophile your whole life, part of you desires to invest in a gadget store. If you’re passionate about your business, success will come – right?

If you have sharp analytical skills, you begin to see your plans in whole new dimensions.

What are the possible outcomes of this venture? Does the local market have a need for a new gadget store? How much do I need to get started – and how much should I sell to make a profit?

Depending on your findings, you can determine the feasibility of your business idea without letting your emotions get in the way.

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Analytical Skills

There are several approaches when it comes to developing an individual’s analytical skills. For instance, psychologists agree that reading fantasy stories as a child can help sharpen critical thinking.[2]

Research also suggests that undergoing traditional education has a positive effect on a person’s IQ and analytical skills.[3]

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But as an adult, such opportunities to hone your analytical skills no longer apply. That’s why you need to devise a more deliberate, active approach yourself.

Below are a few strategies to get you started:

1. Ideate Business Ideas

Developing a profitable business idea, whether you pursue them or not, involves numerous challenges. You need a ton of research, computations, and problem-solving to create a tangible business plan.

You can organize your ideas with a note-taking tool like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. Doing so will allow you to delve deeper into your analysis, organize your findings, and stay focused on roadblocks as well as how to solve them.

2. Leverage Analytical Tools

Aside from note-taking tools, you can also leverage other software that can help with analytical tasks. A money management app like Mint, for example, makes it easy to track your spending habits as well as manage your budget with visual tools. When it comes to prioritizing goals, you can use simple task management apps like Trello or Wunderlist.

3. Have a Personal Learning Library

Thanks to the internet, there’s a colossal amount of resources you can utilize to learn new skills, expand your vocabulary, and train your visualization muscles.

Social media networks like SlideShare and YouTube, for example, offer mountains of tutorials you can access to your heart’s content.

For a personalized learning library, you can download Instagram videos or GIFs from educational accounts like NASA Goddard and the American Mathematical Society. But if you prefer specific, technical skills, then a good place to start would be online learning platforms like Coursera, edX, and Alison.

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4. Participate in Online Communities

The internet is a great place to share experiences, opinions, and sometimes intellectual discussions with like-minded individuals. Reddit, for example, has a place or “subreddit” dedicated for every topic imaginable – from technology to entrepreneurship.

For structured debates, you can head to websites like Debate.org and let other users choose the winner via votes.

5. Seek Mental Stimulation

To keep your mind sharp, make it a habit to engage in mentally stimulating activities, such as chess, puzzles, and brain training apps. A great resource would be Lumosity, which contains dozens of cognitive games designed by teams of scientists and game designers.

6. Keep a Personal Journal

Finally, keeping a personal journal allows you to take a second look at everything that happened in your day.

Remember that writing about learning experiences lets you focus on the lesson rather than the emotion. It will help you analyze how you made your decisions, why you came to certain conclusions, and what you can do to improve in the future.

Here’s How to Create a Habit of Writing in a Journal.

Bottom Line

As an adult, you are required to face a myriad of challenges on a daily basis. Work, school, business, relationships – the list goes on when it comes to the sources of life’s problems. With analytical skills, you can confront and overcome any obstacle standing between you and your goals.

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Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] M. S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences: Analytical Thinking?
[2] KD Novelties: Why You Should Read Classic Tales to Your Children
[3] Economic Inquiry: The Effect of Education on Cognitive Ability

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