Looking for support as you navigate the challenges of running a business? Online resources and books are a great place to look when you have questions. Another option to consider: Finding local, national, and online community groups where you can engage with fellow business owners who can relate to your situation.
Here are some places to get started as you look to build out a support and community network as a business owner.
Local Chambers of Commerce vary across locations, but they’re an excellent starting point. Usually, for a small membership fee, small business owners can expect to find opportunities for networking, events, discounts, mentorship, and professional development sessions. It’s also a good place to learn about local groups more specific to your business.
You can find out more about your local Chamber of Commerce here.
On top of its funding programs, the U.S. Small Business Association also has a network of district and regional offices. Like a Chamber of Commerce, a local SBA office is likely to host in-house activities and have a network of local partners — such as mentors from Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers — for training, coaching, and discussion.
The Square online Seller Community network helps you find answers, share best practices, and grow your business with fellow entrepreneurs. The Seller Community also hosts digital events and offers a Beta program with access to newly designed features and tools before the rest of the world.
Some recent examples of Seller Community discussions and posts:
Local affinity groups
When Công Tử Bột, a Vietnamese restaurant in Maine, was recognized in the New York Times as one of America’s favorite restaurants, the owners posted on Instagram to highlight the work of local affinity groups that help make businesses like theirs possible, including Unified Asian Communities, Tender Table Maine, and Portland Outright.
There are more organizations like this across the country that offer support, community, and opportunity for traditionally underrepresented groups across all types of businesses.
SCORE is a mentor service for small businesses, offering a network of experts advice at in-person chapters or remotely via email, phone, and video.
Reach out directly
If there’s a business or business owner you admire, don’t be afraid to network with them directly and ask for time to connect. Strike up a conversation in person, send an email, or reach out via a message on social media. Many business owners love telling their stories and offering their perspectives to entrepreneurs looking to follow their path.
Square has the tools to run your business — on your own terms. To help celebrate businesses paving their way forward, we partnered with Forbes on the Next 1000 initiative to spotlight bold entrepreneurs and share their most valuable lessons. By sharing firsthand experiences, we’re helping businesses celebrate resilience, build skills, and explore what’s next. See how Square works, and get more expert guidance for the next era of small business.