6 Small Biz Organizations To Help Grow Your Business

31 May

In light of the recent 2012 National Small Business Week, .BIZ has put together a list of 6 small biz organizations worth exploring. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, sole-proprietor or small business CEO − organizations can provide you with useful tips and resources as well as valuable networking opportunities to help you grow your business.

  1. Startup Nation
    Startup Nation is a leading editorial and community resource made by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. The organization’s mission is to empower everyone to own a business and to provide entrepreneurs with the resources and information they need to be successful at each stage of their journey.

    Biz Benefits: Take advantage of this network to bounce your business ideas off the minds of thousands of successful entrepreneurs who have tackled the same challenges you are dealing with today.

  2. International Council for Small Businesses (ICSB)
    ICSB is dedicated to ensuring long-term sustainability and growth for small businesses around the world. The Council comprises of a unique blend of members, from policy-makers and legislative experts to business owners, educators and researchers, among others.

    Biz Benefits: The world is changing and businesses must enter new markets around the world to stay competitive in the current business environment. ISCB can facilitate professional relationships with your key target audience, across countries and cultures. The Council’s weekly newsletters will keep you updated on the latest trends and policy changes that will affect your business’ bottom line in today’s global marketplace.

  3. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Nation
    The largest business organization in the world, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched Small Business Nation to foster an open forum for small businesses around information and ideas. The Chamber has a proven history of consolidating the many voices of small business into one unified, effective message.

    Biz Benefits: Dive deep into Small Business Nation’s extensive virtual Toolkits, online resources that provide you with practical tips on important topics including becoming an employer, government contracting, insurance, purchasing and inventory. From federal forms and checklists, you’ll get everything you need to jumpstart your business – all in one place!

  4. National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
    By pooling the purchasing power of its members, the National Federation of Independent Business gives members access to many business products and services at discounted costs. NFIB also provides timely information designed to help small businesses succeed.

    Biz Benefits: Join NFIB get access  to the cutting-edge products and services that you couldn’t otherwise afford. The Federation also supplies timely tips on cutting costs and increasing ROI.

  5. Small Business Majority
    The Small Business Majority is an advocacy group that amplifies the voice of small businesses and represents their interests on The Hill. Additionally, the group conducts research around key questions and opinions in the industry and hosts events on key trends and issues.

    Biz Benefits: Run by small business owners, Small Business Majority understands the needs of small businesses and how to partner with government to drive innovation and success. This organization has your best interest at heart and will help defend your business against key issues that influence your ability to grow.

  6. National Association of Women-Owned Business (NAWBO)
    NAWBO represents more than 10 million women-owned businesses worldwide. They strive to be a “one-stop resource to propelling women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.”

    Biz Benefits: A few of the many advantages to becoming a member of NAWBO include access to the online member directory, annual awards, leadership development and advocacy and legislative center, and more.

.BIZ understands that starting and sustaining a business in today’s economy is no easy task. It’s important to take advantage of organizations like these to stay current on new trends, policies and regulations, leverage educational resources, and most importantly, network with others who can provide you with helpful advice and bring value to your business!

Weekly Spotlight on Best of .Biz Nominee – Green Alliance

25 May

We’re excited to announce that Green Alliance, a company dedicated to bringing attention to local businesses that are doing right for our planet, was selected as this week’s .BIZ Site of the Week. Located out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire – Green Alliance is a membership service offering customers discounts to save on local green goods and services. For a low fee of $35/year, enviro-minded consumers get access to exclusive deals and discounts with nearly 100 local green shops, ranging from health and wellness to dining and entertainment.

Join Green Alliance’s mission to help reward businesses that are engaging in sustainable practices and educate others on how they can positively impact the environment through making green-conscious purchases. Click here to become a member or give the gift of green to a family member or friend. You can also sign up for the Green Alliance Newsletter to receive tips on how to become a green-savvy consumer and what businesses are doing to shrink their environmental footprint.

We’re proud to have socially responsible businesses like Green Alliance in our .BIZ community! It’s local businesses like Green Alliance that make our world a better place. To find out how you can join the .BIZ network, visit http://www.my.biz. It’s socially responsible businesses like Green Alliance that make .BIZ what it is today.

Using social media as a means to an end, not THE END

24 May

Today, companies are engaging across a multitude of evolving, never-ending social mediums. But with limited time and resources, it’s important for entrepreneurs to treat social media as an enhancement to their sustainable growth strategy instead of making it “THE” strategy. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the social gadgets and gizmos available; start small and use social media to amplify your existing business plan, reach your goals and tell your story.

In a digitized world, Marshall McLuhan’s famous philosophy “the message is the medium” is no longer true. From Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter to Pinterest, Instagram and Foursquare – the success of a message is now dependent upon the quality of your content, the audience that you reach and more importantly, your call to action.

This week, .BIZ attended the Social Media Forum at the U.S. Small Business Association’s 2012 Conference. Panelist Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz and GrowSmartBusiness and former editorial director at Entrepreneur Magazine, gave simple but sound advice for choosing the appropriate social mediums: Go where your audience is. And if your audience is everywhere? Start with one or two networks where the majority of your audience is engaging. “Create personas of the audience you are engaging with on each social platform and tailor your content accordingly,” Rieva advised.

So you might be wondering: How can I make social a means to an end for my start-up? First, focus on building credibility among your target market and driving them to your website to continue through your sales funnel and convert. Remember that while social is a great tool to drive traffic to your company’s website; it should never replace your website. It’s important to note that engagement etiquette differs depending on the network. Mashable’s article “How to: Pick the right social media engagement style,” provides a few helpful and insightful tips.

After you’ve begun engaging on your social networks of choice and linking to your website, it’s time to start measuring and tweaking your messages accordingly. Hootsuite is a great FREE tool to use that will help you track how many people are clicking on your sites, and from what social media networks. You can also leverage Google Analytics to dive deeper into where visitors are landing on your site, where they are going, how long they are staying, if they are converting, the amount of $ they spending, and much more! We encourage you to experiment with your messages and be creative. Then, monitor your results, build on what’s working and kill what isn’t.

We hope this post inspires you to start maximizing your online communities as a means to an end for long-term business success. Be authentic, create relationships, build trust and use social media to encourage your target market to take the next step in the conversion process − visiting your .BIZ website!