It’s no secret that small business owners have endured a hard time throughout the pandemic, with local mandates requiring many to close their doors for extended periods, staffing difficulties, supply shortages and more. Even as some regions and industries normalize, the recent State of Small Business Report from Facebook found a majority of small businesses (52%) continue to report lower sales despite closure rates being down.
Despite all of these challenges, however, small businesses have shown impressive resilience. From pivoting business models to embracing new sales channels or exploring new marketing techniques – the ways small businesses have managed to persevere are long and varied. One resource that proved to help many business owners was finding an online community to help them weather these trials and tribulations — from having a supportive sounding board to ask business questions to a place to provide inspiration and encouragement to other members.
Here are three ways real small business owners credit online networks with helping them get through the pandemic.
Grow Your Confidence. I joined the Boost with Facebook Leaders Network (BLN) last year for a lot of reasons — from networking opportunities to the various trainings, workshops and more. Being in the group has helped give me the confidence that I need to go after larger opportunities for my business. For example, I was approached by the Northeast Supply Chain Division of Home Depot about supplying them with cakes as Mother’s Day gifts for their employees. This was a large order, but all the webinars and trainings I had participated in through BLN helped me know I could do it, and I did. Home Depot was so pleased with the cakes, they also had me do their Father’s Day gifts in June. Having that self-confidence was so key to my success. — Judith Parrot, owner of Judith’s Dessert Boutique
Find A Supportive Community. I’ve found my online group to be invaluable. It’s a place where I can bounce ideas and problems off other business leaders, a place where I can go for inspiration and encouragement, and a place where I can learn and grow my business. Finding this community of like-minded business leaders has been so helpful, and truly has surpassed my expectations.. — Danielle Easdale, owner of Danielle Easdale Paper Artist
Learn From Others. There are so many trainings, workshops and webinars out there — I don’t ever want to miss an event! It’s so inspiring to hear from other business owners and I’ve learned so much from my peers in the group. You realize that you don’t have to be in the same industry — at the end of the day, we’re all small business owners so we deal with a lot of the same challenges. From finding out about existing funding opportunities and grants to sparking creative ideas, you can learn so much from other business owners. —Jennifer Purnell, owner of September Nail Salon
To learn more about how online communities can help you overcome challenges as a business owner, check out the Boost Leaders Network here: https://www.facebook.com/business/small-business/leadersnetwork. Jennifer Purnell is the owner of September Nail Salon, Judith Parrot is the owner of Judith’s Dessert Boutique, and Danielle Easdale is the owner of Danielle Easdale Paper Artist.
Ciara McCoy is the Head of Small and Medium Business Advocacy for North America at Facebook.
Photo courtesy: Judith’s Dessert Boutique