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How can I build my business support networks?

Part of the Buzgate / SME Toolkit Learning Series

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Many of us have been told since early on in life that “it’s not what you know, but who you know” that matters. This holds particularly true in business for several reasons.

First and foremost, it is simply impossible for you to know everything you need to know when you need to know it to start, grow and succeed in business. In addition, by building and nurturing a network of support contacts from a variety of business disciplinary areas, you may also learn about opportunities for advancing your business that you didn’t even know to ask about.

The reality is that there are many people available to help you succeed in business if you know where to look and who to ask? In fact, there is a network of thousands of free and low-cost public business assistance programs available across the country that exists simply to support your entrepreneurial success. Why? …because your success is their success.

Think about it. Small business is the backbone of America’s economy. When you succeed in business, you are often creating new jobs, purchasing goods and services from local suppliers, paying taxes and contributing in many other ways to the social and economic vitality of your community.

To begin building your business support network, visit the SMEToolKit and select what state your business is operating in or planning to operate in from a drop down menu in the center of your computer screen. Once you select a state, you will be taken to a Web page that introduces twenty-one different types of free and low-cost business assistance disciplines including business counseling, funding, marketing, import/export, programs that specifically support women in business, training venues, help with regulatory issues or advocacy initiatives, and government contracting.

You may also locate a variety of special interest groups that offer peer-to-peer networking venues and other avenues of business development such as Chambers of Commerce, Trade Associations, Economic Development Agencies, Academic Institutions and Government Agencies.

In addition to building a network of contacts who can advise you on a broad range of business planning and development issues, it is also important to develop a network of reliable providers of quality goods and services, and with the growth of the Internet, there are now many new and innovative goods and services available on line that can represent significant savings in time and money.

For example, by visiting the SMEToolKit  and selecting Technology in the dropdown menu, you can learn about business solutions in areas of eCommerce, Web design and development, Web marketing, hardware and software, telecommunications, security and IT project management.

There are many reasons why business fail. However, it is a real tragedy when a business is struggling and there are people and programs available to help, but they don’t know where to look for them or they don’t have the courage to ask. Don’t let your business fail for these reasons. Run your business, don’t let it run you.

Focus Points
1. Business Support Network
2. Technology Business Solutions
    a. eCommerce
    b. Web design and development
    c. Web marketing
    d. Hardware
    e. Software
    f. Telecommunications
    g. Security
    h. IT project management

SME Small Business Learning Series

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