What can we all do to help one another more, as small business owners?


The obvious initial steps are communication, networking, promoting each other, which you've already captured.  The next steps are a bit more challenging. Finding ways to work together. For similar and/or complimentary businesses this can be as simple as co-branding, co-marketing, and solution selling (collaborating on a solution for a customer). This too has its limits.  


Pushing the envelop a bit further requires a bit of out-of-the-box thinking. Going it alone or as a small business can be very challenging with all of the overhead work, costs, and non-revenue producing activities required to keep a business running (not even going to mention social media and networking which is becoming a full time job). Finding ways to work together using a virtual business model is where many of the new / emerging companies are creating opportunities. This involves leveraging technologies (more about this later) to facilitate the communication and collaboration and leverage 3rd party providers to exchange value (not always money) to obtain new capabilities towards achieving your goals. 


okay, so what are a few examples where folks are using these virtual models ?

most small businesses are already using a virtual model, without realizing it (we use accounting services, tax services, legal services, distribution services - FedEx, UPS to name a few). Increasingly, folks are turning to virtual sales & marketing (tons of small businesses have propped up in the last 5 years) because of the growing importance and time required. 


Some companies have gone full tilt and built a virtual business model, outsourcing everything and simply serving as the business concept with a small value add to quickly build a book of business and create scale. Examples include - Website Services firms that are leveraging infrastructure from hosting providers, design tools from 3rd parties, and contract & billing services from yet another 3rd party to design, build, and manage websites and provide add-on services (SEO, integration with mobile & apps, etc.). Everyone in the supply chain gets a small piece of revenue and the Website Service firm is able to quickly deliver value and build a revenue stream. Another example is a small furniture manufacturer who installs cabinets for home owners and builders (of homes and/or commercial space). The manufacturing is actually done overseas by several 3rd party companies and this company assembles the furniture and performs installation services (including custom fitting as necessary). The only overhead is the warehouse, inventory, and insurance.  Distribution is covered by a 3rd party. 


So, bringing the conversation back to our community...what could we do to build a larger value proposition by collaborating on solutions / services for customers we serve today (or would like to serve tomorrow - aka expanding our market) ?  This is where we can use this platform (Web 3.0 tools) to look for synergies and small business owners who are interested in exploring ways to collaborate in new ways. I'm actually working with a small team of folks trying to help mall owners create a multiplier effect to improve their value proposition for retailers and the local community. Anyone can collaborate - it's how we built new survival mechanisms as a species and how many / most of us will build sustainability (for our businesses and our social structures) over the long haul.

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West Deerfield Township Deerfield Illinois United States

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