None of us are born knowing exactly how to run a business. Some of us learn in school and some of us in the school of life. Some of us have better natural instincts than others but even those who do will eventually get to a point in their business when, if they want to continue to grow, they need outside help.
Sure, there are very expensive consultants who can help you become "public-facing" if you're ready for that step. But what about the smaller businesses? Those steps, like hiring the first non-family employee or creating additional revenue streams, can be just as daunting as a public offering. Here are a few places you can turn for help that you might not have thought of.
The Chamber of Commerce
Chambers can help in a lot of different ways. From direct suggestions to referring you to the right business coach to inviting you to a mentor program or a mastermind group, the chamber has solutions for all sizes of businesses in every step of the business lifecycle. Share your growth dilemma with them and they'll likely have a list of resources for you.
There are countless resources on social media. You can strike up a conversation with a business owner on Twitter from any area of the world. You can also join a Facebook or LinkedIn group that focuses on your industry or business size. Do a search for resources. The best thing about social media is that you can build relationships at a time that works for you.
Just as there are social media groups for most types of businesses or industries, there are likely also conferences. Search (your) industry conference to start. Often by doing that you'll find other leads you hadn't thought of. Don't ignore sponsored posts. These have targeted you because something you searched for appeared to make you a good fit. Ads can be valuable too so don't discount them.
Books and Blogs
Books are an incredible resource full of stories from people who have "been there, done that." Many books also have online resources these days. So, while you might start out at your local library, it may lead you to a special online group created by the author. If you are a smaller business, check out Michael Port's book, "Book Yourself Solid" for good advice on getting more clients.
Blogs are also a helpful place for information. Often, it's easy to connect with the writer of the blog (assuming the person isn't a blog celebrity who no longer writes their own material) by leaving a comment or filling out a contact form. Blogs have become much meatier these days than simple opinion posts of the past. Start following business people you respect. Don't forget local bloggers as well.
Online Business Courses and Videos
There are a number of free business courses out there as well as paid sites like Udemy and Lynda. Many entrepreneurs share their secrets on daily video blog posts and other video resources where they can address issues as they happen. In some cases, you may even be able to pass along an area of interest to the video blogger and the business person may just record a special video about it.
Don't let a lack of knowledge hold you and your business back from immense growth. You don't need an Ivy League degree to expand your operations or go to the next level. You just have to be resourceful and lucky for us, there are many resources out there for the choosing.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.