Ask the Experts
How SME’s can benefit from establishing a local network of like-minded business owners
22nd January 2019, 2:04 pm
Why forging a network of other business owners may be the best thing you ever do as a small business.
As a small business owner, making a concerted effort to establish a network of other like-minded entrepreneurs can create a multitude of beneficial outcomes.
Networking can be extremely valuable for SMEs by opening up unexpected opportunities, including new lead generation, the chance to win fresh business and gaining an advantage over competitors. All of this can help to boost business growth.
In a world that is more inter-connected than ever, it doesn’t make sense for businesses to operate using a silo mentality.
Each business has its own unique goals and purpose and it will be shaped by the individual ambitions of its management team. However this doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t look to other businesses, particularly those in the same geography and sector, to share ideas and even collaborate, where possible.
Building relationships with other small businesses can be hugely advantageous for SMEs. Some of the potential benefits include:
- New opportunities:
This can include: partnering with likeminded businesses, which can be of strategic benefit to win new contracts or pool resources, gaining new leads (customers) and suppliers to fulfil your business needs.
- Knowledge exchange:
Whether it’s asking for feedback on your latest marketing idea or new product, it helps to get another perspective, particularly from someone in your sector. If you establish a broad network of connections, it’s likely you’ll know at least a few people who’ve been in your shoes who you can reach out to for advice and guidance.
- Raising your profile:
Exposing your business to a wider circle is a good way to start building awareness of your brand and extending your reach. It can also be an excellent way to build your confidence and fine-tune your proposition by putting your ideas out there.
Where should you look to build your network? Two of the best options are joining a local or national trade body that represents your sector and attending co-working spaces.
Local and national trade bodies can provide an easy way into an established community of businesses, as well as being good places to gain assurance, local market insight and competitive data to help you plan your business strategy.
Organisations, such as the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce offer services to members including seminars, webinars and conferences, all of which are good places to meet fellow business owners. Some trade bodies also provide added perks like free legal advice.
Attending co-working spaces is another easy way to make direct connections with other businesses in your city. At B Works on Market Street, we’ve built a one-stop-shop for Manchester’s local businesses and entrepreneurs to learn, work and bank all in one place. It offers extensive co-working space and private meeting rooms, as well as a purpose-built studio where SMEs can create digital marketing content and more.
We’ve also partnered with the city’s leading business development organisations and Universities, alongside Manchester’s own fashion giant, Boohoo.com, to offer a series of totally free events, mentoring programmes, 1-1 sessions and other services in-store. And you don’t need to be a customer to come in to experience the space.
Overall, forging a network of other SMEs as a small business should be play a part in your strategy. It’s a small investment of time but can have big benefits.