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by DP Taylor | Updated Aug. 5, 2022 – First published on May 18, 2022
Image source: Getty Images
One of the primary traits of entrepreneurs is independence. We feel like we can do everything on our own and figure out every problem.
But there comes a time in running a small business where you realize you could use some advice. You want to know how others dealt with this problem, or if there’s something you’re missing. That’s why it’s important to build relationships with other entrepreneurs, and the best way to do that is online.
The entrepreneurial process is difficult to master, and everyone needs help along the way. So, get involved in one or more of these eight entrepreneurship forums to start developing relationships and get your questions answered.
The eight best entrepreneurship forums and communities:
Startups.com offers a small business forum that provides company founders and others who have an entrepreneurial mindset a place to share their challenges and help each other. They vet anyone who wants to join, so you don’t have to worry about trolls messing with the conversation. It’s a great place to talk about any of the challenges of running a business or getting funding.
The site has an interesting way of growing these communities. They form groups of eight “highly vetted Founders who share common goals” and then coordinate monthly meetings via a group video call. Each meeting is structured so you hit the topics you care about and there’s no wasted time.
If you’re looking for advice, business tips, and feedback to help you get over the hump from people in the same boat you’re in, this may be exactly what you need.
The Fastlane Entrepreneur Forum has more than 60,000 entrepreneurs who discuss subjects based on the CENTS Framework. CENTS is a methodology that aims to test the veracity of a business idea, with the centerpiece being NEED, or relative value.
If you’re struggling or have an idea that you think needs a second look, this is one of those forums for entrepreneurs to get real, honest feedback from other entrepreneurs. Their advice could help you avoid making the same mistakes they made early on.
It’s a busy forum, with multiple comments per hour. Some examples of top posts include a discussion on cryptocurrency, reading recommendations, success stories, and general questions on how to run or start a business.
The Fastlane Forum provides a place where you can ask about anything small business-related. Image source: Author
Everyone knows about LinkedIn, but you may not be using it to its full potential. This social media site is a great networking tool helping professionals meet each other virtually.
LinkedIn also has professional groups you can join, which is where you can have discussions with other people in your line of work. These groups can focus on just about any niche you want. There are groups for female entrepreneurs and digital entrepreneurs and creative entrepreneurs.
Some more specific examples include the industry-based Global Cannabis Entrepreneur’s Network with 1,000 members and the geographic-based East Kent Entrepreneurs group with 89 members.
If you have a LinkedIn profile, it’s best to update it as fully as possible before joining the group so you can connect with the right people. Then, start posting and commenting away.
Alignable is a referral network dedicated to small businesses. It allows people to connect with other businesses, ask for advice, and even get referrals. It’s free, although you can get a premium membership that provides more connections and visibility for your business. The site claims to host nearly 6 million business owners and over 35,000 communities.
To get started, Alignable asks you to fill out your profile, which will allow the site to connect you with those who you know and are in your general area and line of work. Then, the site will help you build business relationships and start a conversation with another business owner via coffee or a call.
The site even offers a weekly 15-minute checklist of what you should do to advance yourself on Alignable, so you’re not just left to figure things out on your own.
A big part of running a business is balancing the books, and Intuit QuickBooks offers a forum to help business owners with that. It’s not as useful if you don’t use QuickBooks, but considering the percentage of businesses who do use it in some way — whether for budgeting or filing taxes — it can be a lifesaver. It’s also a very active forum with lots of posts per day, so you won’t see your post languishing for weeks on end.
You can browse the QuickBooks forum by topic, from employees and payrolls to reports and accounting to taxes. Additionally, QuickBooks offers lots of how-to articles you can explore before asking a question in the forum.
Some recent top topics in the forum include issues with filing 1099s, problems with refunding a customer’s credit card, and navigating sales taxes.
Small Business Brief is a simple website offering articles, templates, and forms to help small business owners. It also offers a small business and startup forum that gets a lot of traffic and robust discussion. Some threads have thousands of comments.
The forum is split into nine main categories:
As an example, one of the top posts under the Small Business Marketing – Online category is a vigorous discussion about whether email marketing is dead, prompting an educational debate among users about the subject.
The Small Business Brief forum has plenty of topics covering marketing. Image source: Author
Small-business-forum.net bears a lot of similarities to the Small Business Brief forum. It is a no-frills business advice forum with a similar layout, but this one is broken into the following categories:
Also like the Small Business Brief forum, it has a lot of activity, but some threads and boards will have more activity than others.
This forum is a little bit more focused on all aspects of running a business, including financing it, dealing with accounting and legal, and even tips on your website.
The Warrior Forum bills itself as the “world’s largest Internet Marketing Community and Marketplace.” It has an active discussion board that you can sort by most recent and top voted. It discusses a host of subjects ranging from freelance jobs that earn $100,000 to questions about Google Ads to time management for entrepreneurs.
It’s not as organized as other forums so you might need to make use of the search box at the top to find topics relevant to you as opposed to scanning the list of posts, which range widely in terms of topic. However, this format may increase your visibility if you post something as it will go straight to the top of the page (for those sorting by recent, at least).
The forum is focused more on marketing, so if you have questions about other aspects of running a business you may be better served by checking out other forums. However, considering how much of your business is focused on marketing, you’ll probably find plenty of information on this forum that is relevant to you.
The Warrior Forum hosts discussions on a wide range of topics. Image source: Author
We all know that becoming an entrepreneur is no picnic. The challenges faced by entrepreneurs are numerous and daunting, and there’s no shame in admitting you need help. And even if you don’t at this moment, it’s good to have those connections when you need them.
So, get started in a few communities. Create a profile on some of these sites and start talking. Ask some questions that may feel basic but are probably shared by many others. Help other entrepreneurs with your own experiences and expertise. By developing your connections, you’ll have a valuable resource as you grow your business.
DP Taylor is a business software expert writing for The Ascent and The Motley Fool.
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