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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?


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.
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