Business owners often find themselves alone when they have small business questions to ask. Have you ever wanted some help with a decision only to find that there’s no one around sufficiently capable of giving you advice? This kind of thing happens a lot, and there are places where you can get help.
American Express just recently unveiled a new version of its “Open Forum” platform, where entrepreneurs, mentors, and small business owners congregate to discuss various issues within small business. The platform is currently in beta, so you’ll need to request an invitation.
Surprisingly enough, what would otherwise be a boring credit card company has really made a stunning effort in creating a dynamic community. Within American Express’ Open Forum, you can read thought leadership pieces from startup CEOs, read up on what other tips small business owners have to share, and share your own tips with others when they ask a question. It’s really a “you’ve got to see it to believe it” kind of deal. Perhaps one of the most pleasant parts of Open Forum is the fact that you can tie your LinkedIn account to it (a big plus, since most entrepreneurs, professionals, and business owners have accounts there anyway).
Not to get carried away with Open Forum, I’ll also direct you to two other places where you can discuss with other business owners about problems you face and seek advice:
- The Business Advice Forum – This seemingly simple forum is teeming with life. Business owners talk about sales, marketing, SEO, news, website development, and other business-related topics. Be aware, though, that not all topics posted on the forum are completely relevant to the business culture.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration Discussion Boards – This one’s quite a mouthful! The forum may not be as alive as the Business Advice Forum, but it’s full of many helpful posts that users have made to assist small business owners in the decision-making process. Feel free to pop in with a question when you have one! Their discussions include events, help with registering a business, loans/grants, self-employed businesses, government contracting, and marketing. They also have an idea exchange and a place where you can say a few words about yourself to the community. Considering that the oldest posts on the forum are from near the end of 2010, I’m inclined to think that this is a rather young forum. Give it a chance, and it will grow on you.
If you’re stuck somewhere, it never hurts to swallow your pride a bit and pop a question in one of these three venues. You’re most likely to get supportive responses from other members that have been in the same situation. You’ll never know what possibilities you have until you reach out!