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Networking and Outsourcing: Making Your Small Business Decisions Easier
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With small businesses making up more than 99 percent of businesses in the U.S., the small business owner community seems as though it should feel like an all-inclusive club. It’s probably safe to say that everyone either is, knows or does business with a small business owner. But with so many different types of businesses falling under the “small business” umbrella, it can be difficult for business owners like you to feel camaraderie with the owners of businesses that are very different from yours.

In fact, many small business owners say they feel that they’re all alone when it comes to running their businesses. A survey conducted by The UPS Store through Small Business Buzz – our online community of small business owners to whom we often turn for thoughts and feedback on a number of topics  – found that small business owners don’t get the support they need to cope with challenges,  and many say that others don’t understand what they’re going through.

As the daughter of a small business owner, I grew up knowing the ins and outs of my family’s business. I knew our customers, and our neighborhood, and what it took to be successful. I’m proud to say that today, in my role at The UPS Store, I’ve expanded on these lessons I learned early on. I know that for many small business owners, building relationships with customers and being successful are key priorities. At The UPS Store, we offer products and services to help small businesses of all kinds, making it easy for business owners to focus on what they do best – running their businesses.

But even before I knew about all types of small businesses, when my small business expertise centered around my own family’s business,  the knowledge we had could certainly be beneficial to other small business owners.

I’ve learned there is a commonality among small business owners: a commitment to your expertise. Whether you’re a plumber or a daycare provider, an accountant or an artist, there’s a shared passion for the services you provide. Sometimes, you may have a common target market, yet you don’t compete for customers.

Small business owners – you can help one another. Lend your expertise to others. I propose the following: consider including networking and relationship building in your business plan. How?

  1. In-person networking: Seek out organizations in your town or city that bring business owners together, such as chamber of commerce events or organizations that are appropriate for your business.
  2. Mentoring: Mentors can provide valuable advice and assistance, and it can be helpful and potentially cost-saving to learn from someone who’s been through similar experiences as you.
  3. Outsourcing: The responsibilities that come with being a small business owner can be daunting. Consider outsourcing tasks where you might not feel as confident, whether that’s creating marketing collateral or managing your finances.

Building relationships with other small business owners – regardless of industry – doesn’t have to be complicated, and the results can be advantageous.

Michelle Van SlykeVP Marketing and Small Business Solutions, The UPS Store
Michelle spent the first 15 years of her career at Ford Motor Company and more recently at Jacuzzi Group Worldwide and Raley’s, a supermarket chain. She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Southern California as well as a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame.
TheUPSstore.com | @MKVanSlyke | SmallBiz.TheUPSstore.com | More from Michelle

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