Whether you’re starting up your first business, or you’re a seasoned professional, having a community of like-minded individuals and quality resources at your disposal is vital. You can read all the reports you want, and do all the business courses you can get your hands on, but nothing beats speaking to and reading the experiences of other entrepreneurs and business people on the ground, who have real-life experience in setting up and running a successful business.
With remote work the norm still for many, these communities and resources aren’t just great for learning and understanding the SME landscape, but also as a source of community, networking and marketing.
Below are the top online communities that you should follow to connect with like-minded business-savvy individuals.
Founded by entrepreneur Jeff Sloan in 2002, Start-Up Nation offers a free-to-join community where industry pro’s offer information, inspiration and network connections that startups need to start and grow their businesses. You can find forums, groups, articles, blogs and more in a number of business sectors to encourage and help entrepreneurs entering the space. You can even reach out to the platform to become a content contributor if you feel you have the experience and knowledge to offer.
The Small Business Bonfire
The Small Business Bonfire is a well-known global community that every entrepreneur should follow. It is a free community founded by Alyssa Gregory in 2011 and provides tools, tips, resources, articles and inspiration for small business owners. It also offers a community forum, groups and networking opportunities. Their goal is to “to create a valuable online destination where aspiring and established small business owners worldwide can find the small business help and advice they need, every single day of the week.”
It wouldn’t be an SME community list without mentioning the 1-grid blog. Starting in 2017, the blog provides a wealth of SME tips, guides and advice for both aspiring entrepreneurs and experienced business owners. The focus is on guiding SME owners through getting their businesses online, but it also offers insights into the general small business landscape in South Africa.
From creating an e-commerce website to understanding web hosting, domain registration and the benefits of business email and cybersecurity, the blog educates, guides and inspires startups and entrepreneurs to make the most of their brand presence online.
You can find almost anything on Reddit, and that’s the point. Whatever industry you’re in, the level of business skills you have and the point of your business journey you’re in, Reddit has a forum of like-minded individuals to connect with. Reddit covers topics from startups, entrepreneurship, and small businesses, to subtopics or subreddits of marketing, finance and technology.
Founded in 2005, you can search the platform to find information, conversations and even market your business to other members. If you’re looking for first-hand industry knowledge and experiences Reddit is your place to be. The platform has become so popular that some community forums have even reached over 400,000 members.
Linkedin is not just another social network, it’s a global platform designed for professionals including job seekers, employers, and businesses. It’s essentially the ultimate virtual CV that helps professionals promote themselves and their businesses.
But it’s so much more. By featuring professionals from all industries and sectors, LinkedIn offers groups by and for entrepreneurs to find and swap information on different business needs and ideas. No matter where you are in South Africa, or the world, you can connect with industry experts as well as find the right people for your business.
Founded by Derek Andersen in 2010, Startup Grind is a global community of founders, startups, and entrepreneurs working towards overcoming the many challenges SMEs face when launching and growing a business. Startup Grind not only offers a membership community filled with articles, advice and conversations but also startup programs, global events and conferences.
They have a community of over 3.5 million individuals globally. Their main goal is to provide entrepreneurs opportunities and education to grow their companies. They even have a student program and community that advises students to try out in the world of business. Depending on your business’s size, you can either choose the student, startup, or partner package.
SME South Africa
SME South Africa is a well-known, local resource for business owners. Find advice about business planning, finance, marketing, HR, operations and even insurance to set you up for success. On top of advice, the platform offers recommendations, price comparisons and quotes for a number of business-critical services including loans, software, payment solutions, e-commerce platforms, accounting services and more.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or newbie to the SME landscape, we all need a bit of encouragement, advice and motivation at some point. Take advantage of these communities and resources to help you along your business journey to success.