Using Community to Power Profits

Using Community for Profit
As a small business owner do you feel alone? Frustrated? Wishing for a regular 9 to 5 job (horror!) simply to enjoy some water cooler talk?

Perhaps you dream of your own, super successful, online tribe. I’ve always wondered if those exclusive, VIP, secret entrance, James Bond-esque clubs exist. Do I need a single use drop box to join?

*Ahem*

Back to business.

Water cooler discussions, and their online equivalents, continue to exist because they serve a purpose. They build community. Managed properly that community can be an asset.

Be warned – mismanaged, bloated, or neglected communities can become business quicksand.

How to Use Community to Power Your Small Business Profits


This post is part of the August Word Carnival. The topic is It Takes a Village: Small Biz Success & The Power of Community. Click the link to get a variety of perspectives from an amazing group of small business experts.

Community Powered Profits: Find Your Watercooler

Whether you’re an irrepressible extrovert (me!), or an acute introvert, you need contact with others. Having a business group with whom you can discuss the latest twist on your favorite show, pick apart your sports team’s latest game, or even your weekend activities is good for your business. Really.

These chats give your brain a needed break. Studies have shown that short breaks improve concentration. Plus these seemingly irrelevant discussions can and do spark business ideas.

So why other business people? Why not your bestie from middle school, or your Great Aunt Betty? These informal talks build community (thought I forgot about that didn’t you?). You feel closer, and more connected with this group because of those seemingly inane, irrelevant discussions.

Be sure to keep the water cooler analogy front and center. It’s important because the setting is casual, and you are standing up. This gets your body moving (again proven to help productivity) and keeps you from staying too long. Quick, light breaks are the key.

Community Powered Profits: Join the Club Tribe

Time to turn from the water cooler to the conference room. Communities both online and offline can serve a variety of purposes in your business. Just a few of the benefits your business can get from a community:

  • Sounding board for business ideas
  • Accountability (a common issue once you’ve become the boss)
  • Resource to learn about new tools
  • Networking for leads and referrals

Common examples include; Mastermind Groups, Co-Working, Blog Groups (like the Word Carnival), Twitter Chats, Facebook Groups, online forums,

Community Powered Profits: Ditch the Square Wheel

Do you need to create your own community? It’s tempting to say yes, only *I* can create the ideal community for my business. That’s ego talking.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a healthy ego too. You need one in the dog eat dog world of start-ups and small business. But you also need to keep it in check.

There are two compelling reasons to consider joining an existing group.

1. Re-inventing the wheel takes a lot of work. Unless you have strong evidence you can monetize the community, that time could be better spent on building profitable products.

2. You’re a crappy inventor who can only design square wheels. Building and maintaining a vibrant community takes more than work. To be successful, you need to have or learn specific skills and abilities. It’s not so easy a cave man (or even some dude from the Middle Ages) could do it. If you’re dead set on giving it a go, check out the book “Design to Thrive: Creating Social Networks and Online Communities that Last” by Tharon Howard.

Final Thoughts

What are your community needs? How are you meeting them? Is it time to start your own, or is there one out there that is a perfect match?



Nicole Fende is The Numbers Whisperer™. Her mission is to make finance fun and profit easy. Check out her recently released book, How to be a Finance Rock Star: The Small Business Owner’s Ticket to Multi-Platinum Profits.
 
© 2012 Small Business Finance Forum LLC | All rights reserved.


 
 

25 Comments

  1. Profitable is always better. Unless you just want a hobby. Then it doesn’t really matter, right? Businesses that make a profit are only doing so BECAUSE they got help from other people. It’s never too early to build one either — don’t wait until you’ve got your website perfect. Go out there and help some people. Mom was right, choose your friends wisely! They’ll make all the difference in the world.
    Tea Silvestre recently posted…The Quantum Mechanics of Manifesting Your CommunityMy Profile

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  2. Great Points! I love another set of eyes, and point of view. As small business owners we get so caught up we forget that language or applications we use may not roll off the tongue or fingers of all our customers.

    I almost joined a mastermind group but it just did not feel like it was my tribe. Where to find like minded is not easy!
    Haralee recently posted…WelcomeMy Profile

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    • You make a great point Haralee about finding the right people. If I may make a suggestion? Try new ones, even those that don’t feel quite right at first. I’d compare it to a new pair of shoes. They’re a little uncomfortable at first, but if they’re the right size pretty soon they’ll be broken in and perfect.
      Nicole Fende recently posted…Put Your Time Where Their Money Is (Get Paid To Do Your Market Research)My Profile

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  3. Nicole, I love that you acknowledged the downside in mismanaged or bloated groups. I’ve joined a few that just couldn’t seem to ever get it together, for whatever reason, and ended up doing nothing for me, or any other member, except give a false sense of security or safety in numbers. But when the chips are down, who’s got your back? Friends are people who are there when it’s NOT convenient for them to be there, and the same is true to a degree of biz groups. Great piece – and I’m so grateful you’re a part of my “clan”!
    Annie Sisk recently posted…Building a Clan to Get There Faster (and Saner)My Profile

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    • For me Annie one of the biggest culprits with mismanaged groups is LinkedIn. There are so many groups that could be great, but have degenerated into self promotion SPAM. Blech.
      Nicole Fende recently posted…Email Lists – Profit is NOT by the NumbersMy Profile

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  4. Love the one about accountability, Nicole. When you work alone, sometimes that’s the only thing that makes you keep your promises to yourself (promises to clients are no problem, of course).

    Reply
    • Exactly Sharon. It’s easy to put off commitments to yourself and building your business. But when you’ve got some supportive yet tough people holding your feet to the fire it makes a difference.
      Nicole Fende recently posted…Scooby Doo to the (Mentor) RescueMy Profile

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  5. I love the point you make about creating a community from scratch vs joining one! People usually automatically think they need to reinvent the wheel and it’s definitely not always the answer. It really depends on your particular business needs. I totally agree that the value that a community provides for the sheer mental sanity is far well worth connecting with like minds, even if it’s only to talk about hobbies. The ways humans connect may be changing, but we always find a way. Oh and when you find out how to get an invite to a secret Bond-esque club, you definitely need to blog about it ; )

    Reply
    • The lesson on not needing to build your own community is one that I learned from experience. I did give it a go when I first became active online (Fail – my ego made me do it). Then I realized what I needed and wanted already existed. Not to mention the fact that building online communities is not my strength.
      Nicole Fende recently posted…Scooby Doo to the (Mentor) RescueMy Profile

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  6. I totally agree that introverts like me absolutely need to have a break during the day. Whether that’s alone, or with other people, you just can’t discount the feeling of freedom enjoyment you feel when you get time to yourself. Especially if you’re workaholic, taking breaks are a necessary evil when it comes to regaining your concentration.

    I’m very guilty of working myself to death. I work on hours, usually powered by caffeine. On the rare occasions that I do take breaks, I tend to be a little bit more social. Although I’m an introvert, I tend to enjoy engaging with other people – especially if I can confine it to a specific day.

    Adding co-working to my weekly routine was a huge shift for me, I wasn’t used to having so many colleagues who were in the same position usually experiencing the same problems that I have. More than any coworker I’ve ever worked beside, these freelance coworkers were true colleagues. People who knew what I was going through, who understood my issues and problems, and even had an ear and suggestions for what I thought were things I was facing alone.

    Finding that kind of community can be very rewarding, even for introverts. Connecting online, for example with the Word Carnivals, has opened my horizons even more – and I enjoy every opportunity to connect with each carnie when I can.

    Fantastic post, thanks! :-D
    Nick Armstrong recently posted…The Right Way To Ask For HelpMy Profile

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    • Ooh yes the workaholic + coffee killer combo. I share that.

      Co-working / close knit peer groups keep us from feeling isolated, as well providing a good grounding.

      Reply
    • Finding the right fit or tribe is not an easy thing. You may kiss a few frogs first. Even once you find them, it takes time to build trust and community. How / where did you find yours?

      Reply
  7. Your community is a great way to start building customer base. With this strategy you are able to market your products and services and even morph them into buying clients.
    top seo agency recently posted…4 SEO Myths Busted by Yasir KhanMy Profile

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  8. joining a community is good practice but if someone create a community from scratch it will be great for him experience wise as well as profit wise, People usually automatically think they need to reinvent the wheel and it’s definitely not always the answer. anyway its a great post thanks Nicole and keep up the good work…
    jawad zaib recently posted…Archos Arnova FamilyPadMy Profile

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  9. Nice post,the points which you mentioned in the above article is really great and awesome. Thanks for such a great article and great points

    Reply
  10. Making community is very important for the business success..there can be a lot of members added to promote the business….

    Reply
  11. Great advice! I know for a lot of people who are just getting started with their businesses, all the tasks they have to accomplish can seem so overwhelming that finding and nurturing community takes a back seat for far too long. In reality, networking – online or off – can make a huge difference in a business’ success. It can even help entrepreneurs connect with funding sources.

    Reply
  12. I must admit I haven’t even built a community yet only just started getting my site ranked and am learning as quickly as I can but this is definatly on my list.

    So for that thanks lee
    Lee recently posted…Tummy Control UnderwearMy Profile

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  13. Hello, I personally think that it can makes a person lazy if he is doing consistently one thing again and again. Here I get some of very innovative and effective ideas for my blogs and yes community development is one of the best way. I will be taking advantage through this info.Thanks and keep sharing.

    Reply
  14. This is a really good read for me. Must agree that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw. Thanks for posting this useful information. This was just what I was on looking for. I’ll come back to this blog for sure!

    Reply
  15. There are many things to consider to increase the profit of the business. One important factor is the community; by analyzing it, you will going to earn some information that could be vital for your business’ financial success….
    jun recently posted…The Effects of OverpopulationMy Profile

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  16. After reading your informative post i suddenly remembered a childhood days story’s moral – union is strength. small but very nice article. keep it up.

    Reply

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