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17 Under-Appreciated Resources Small Business Owners Should Know About

17 Under-Appreciated Resources Small Business Owners Should Know About

Small business owners often overlook valuable resources that can propel their growth and stability. From getting involved with your local Chamber of Commerce to joining global online networking communities, we've gathered 17 diverse insights from CEOs, Founders, and other key business figures. Discover these under-appreciated gems that could give your business the edge it needs.

  • Get Involved With Your Local CoC

  • Explore SBA Loan Opportunities

  • Embrace Digital Marketing Strategies

  • Utilize Government-Funded Internship Programs

  • Join Local BNI Chapters for Referrals

  • Leverage Industry-Specific Online Communities

  • Use Small Business Development Centers

  • Engage With Community College Programs

  • Adopt Local Product Sourcing Strategies

  • Optimize Business Directory Profiles

  • Establish Customer Feedback Loops

  • Implement Guerrilla Marketing Tactics

  • Connect With Business Mentorship Networks

  • Attend Local Trade Shows and Expos

  • Form Strategic Nonprofit Partnerships

  • Outsource to Freelancers for Efficiency

  • Join Global Online Networking Communities

Get Involved With Your Local Chamber of Commerce

One under-appreciated resource that small business owners should know more about is their local Chamber of Commerce (COC). COCs are organizations that support and promote local businesses within a specific region or community. They provide a variety of benefits and resources that can be extremely valuable for small business owners. 

Here are some reasons why small business owners should consider getting involved with their local COC:

Networking: COCs organize events, workshops, seminars, and business mixers where local business owners can connect, share experiences, and build relationships. Networking can lead to partnerships, collaborations, and new customer referrals.

Business Exposure: Being a member of the COC often includes business listing in their directories, both online and in print. This can help increase your business's visibility.

Educational Resources: Many COCs offer educational resources, workshops, and seminars on topics such as marketing, finance, technology, and business growth strategies. These resources can help you stay informed and develop new skills.

Business Support Services: Some COCs offer services like business mentoring, guidance on permits and licenses, and assistance with navigating local regulations.

Credibility: Being a member of the local COC can lend credibility to your business. Potential customers may view your business as more trustworthy and established if they know you're affiliated with a respected local organization.

Community Engagement: COCs often participate in community events and initiatives. Getting involved can help you connect with your community, build goodwill, and demonstrate your commitment to the local area.

Discounts and Deals: Many COCs offer member-exclusive discounts on various products and services, ranging from insurance to advertising.

While your local COC likely has numerous benefits, it's important to research the specific offerings of your local COC to ensure that it aligns with your business needs and goals.

Robert Reder, Attorney, Blythe Grace PLLC

Explore SBA Loan Opportunities

The government provides SBA loans, which are low-interest business loans with long terms tailored to meet specific criteria. They offer much lower interest rates than banks, and the payback plan is customized to suit the customer's needs. 

For our business, which is seasonal with peak sales during spring, we found it advantageous to have the principal balance term due at the end of our peak season and to pay low monthly interest payments. 

This allowed us to have financial security and avoid large monthly debts during lean sales months. SBA loans are an excellent resource for funding, especially for small startups and new acquisitions.

Embrace Digital Marketing Strategies

In the legal field, using technology to grow small businesses and enhance reputation is often overlooked. I've worked closely with lawyers and noticed that not enough of them take advantage of digital marketing strategies. For example, Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free tool that small- and medium-sized law firms can use to establish a strong online presence and improve their visibility in local searches.

Relying on prestigious listings or badges like Super Lawyers isn't sufficient if a small or medium-sized business (SMB) wants to stand out from competitors. Small and medium-sized businesses should embrace digital marketing more fully. There are plenty of cost-effective resources available online, and investing in these strategies can lead to significant returns over time.

Justin Staples, Business Entrepreneur and Business Owner, JS Interactive, LLC

Utilize Government-Funded Internship Programs

A resource that few small-business owners know about is government-funded internship programs. These programs can be a goldmine, especially for up-and-coming businesses looking to bring in fresh talent without the hefty price tag typically associated with hiring new employees.

Many governments offer subsidized or partially funded internship programs where small businesses can bring on interns. The specifics depend on the particular location you live in, but most times, it's a great opportunity for both sides.

This not only helps with the workload but also opens the door to fresh ideas and new perspectives. Plus, these interns, often students or recent graduates, are eager to learn and contribute. It's a win-win: the interns gain valuable real-world experience, and the business benefits from their energy and the latest academic knowledge, potentially keeping the brightest for the long term.

Small-business owners should explore these programs as they can be a valuable addition to their growth strategy.

Join Local BNI Chapters for Referrals

Finding and joining your local BNI chapter can be highly beneficial if you own a local-focused business. BNI and its networking process could be golden for you, as it's built around referrals and weekly attendance, offering the chance to build long-standing relationships and generate revenue for your business. 

Local chapters only allow single seats for roles like CPA, family law, commercial real estate, etc. If your business focuses on a local market, the referrals could be significant. It's also an excellent way to build rapport with fellow business owners through the one-on-ones you conduct. 

Joining BNI is a great way to learn, grow, and expand your reach as a small business owner.

Brandon Ward, Podcaster and Entrepreneur, Order Within Podcast

Leverage Industry-Specific Online Communities

One resource I believe small-business owners should tap into more frequently is the power of online communities and forums specific to their industry. In our journey at the software research company, leveraging these platforms has been pivotal. 

These online spaces are treasure troves of real-time insights, where business owners can engage directly with peers, potential clients, and even competitors. It's a dynamic environment for exchanging ideas, getting feedback, and staying abreast of industry trends and challenges.

For instance, in the software field, forums like Stack Overflow or specific LinkedIn groups have been invaluable. They provide a pulse on emerging technologies, user preferences, and even direct feedback on our benchmarking tools. 

Small-business owners, irrespective of their industry, can find similar niche communities online. Engaging in these spaces can lead to unexpected collaborations, insights into customer pain points, and even ideas for innovation. It's a low-cost, high-impact resource that enriches business strategies with diverse perspectives.

Use Small Business Development Centers

Small business owners often overlook the value of their local Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). These centers offer free or low-cost resources, including workshops, mentorship programs, and guidance on business planning, marketing strategies, financial management, and more. They can be invaluable in providing tailored advice and support to help small businesses thrive.

Mark Fong, General Manager and CEO, hexagon LED lights

Engage With Community College Programs

I've found immense value in a resource often overlooked by small-business owners: Community College Business Support programs. When we were exploring ways to improve our range of desiccant bags and thermal insulation blankets, a local community college provided invaluable assistance. 

Their business support program offered tailored advice and workshops that helped us refine our product designs and marketing strategies. This partnership not only enhanced our product quality but also strengthened our connection with the local community. 

I believe many small-business owners could benefit from the practical, accessible expertise these programs offer.

Adopt Local Product Sourcing Strategies

Local Product Sourcing is an often-overlooked resource for small business owners and it involves finding and partnering with nearby suppliers or producers for your raw materials or products. 

This reduces transportation costs and fosters a sense of community and sustainability. By sourcing locally, you can create a unique selling point for your business, support local economies, and build stronger, more transparent supply chains. It's a win-win for both your business and your community.

Rob Blum, CEO, Blumsafe

Optimize Business Directory Profiles

Small-business owners should optimize their profiles in business directories. It's important to provide lots of information about the products and services you offer in these directories, and you should also list any relevant amenities that are available at your business. These features can affect your website's visibility in Google Search.

Establish Customer Feedback Loops

Establishing a system to collect and act on customer feedback is often undervalued. It can provide invaluable insights into improving your products or services, enhancing customer satisfaction, and even discovering new business opportunities. 

By actively engaging with your customers and using their feedback to make informed decisions, you can build stronger relationships and foster loyalty, which is a priceless resource for long-term success.

Implement Guerrilla Marketing Tactics

An often-overlooked resource for small-business owners is Guerrilla Marketing. This unconventional and low-cost marketing approach relies on creativity and grassroots strategies to promote your business. It's a highly underappreciated way to generate buzz and attract customers without breaking the bank.

Connect With Business Mentorship Networks

Business Mentorship Networks bring seasoned entrepreneurs together with small business owners, offering a wealth of knowledge and experience. 

By connecting with a mentor in your industry or area, you gain access to valuable insights, guidance, and a supportive network that can help you navigate the challenges of running a business.

It's like having a trusted advisor in your corner, and it's a resource that can make a world of difference in your entrepreneurial journey.

Attend Local Trade Shows and Expos

A lesser-known but highly valuable resource for small business owners is Local Trade Shows and Expos. These events are often overlooked, but they can be gold mines for networking, showcasing your products or services, and gaining exposure within your community. 

They offer a unique platform to connect with potential customers, partners, and suppliers—all under one roof. Don't underestimate the power of these local gatherings in boosting business visibility and growth.

Form Strategic Nonprofit Partnerships

An underappreciated resource for small-business owners in digital marketing is the strategic use of nonprofit partnerships. Partnering with a nonprofit can boost your brand's social responsibility profile and open doors to unique marketing channels. 

For example, by collaborating on a community project, we gained access to local media coverage, which would have been costly otherwise. This partnership not only enhanced our brand's visibility but also deeply resonated with our target audience, who values community engagement. 

Such partnerships can lead to shared marketing efforts, like co-hosted events or social media campaigns, offering a fresh, cost-effective avenue for brand exposure while also contributing positively to the community. This approach elevates the brand's public image and fosters meaningful connections with potential clients who appreciate businesses that invest in social causes.

Daniel Bunn, Founder and Director, DB IT

Outsource to Freelancers for Efficiency

Outsourcing tasks to freelancers is an underappreciated resource that small business owners need to know about. One key advantage is the cost-effectiveness compared to hiring full-time employees.

Freelancers are paid for specific tasks, ‌eliminating the need for expenses such as benefits, office space, and equipment. This allows small businesses to allocate their resources more ideally, especially when dealing with tight budgets.

Flexibility is another significant benefit, as freelancers enable small businesses to scale up or down based on fluctuating workloads, making them ideal for one-time or short-term projects. Remember that small businesses often tap into diverse skills and perspectives from around the world, mainly for tasks that don't require a physical presence.

In a nutshell, freelancers offer small businesses a powerful resource for accessing specialized skills, improving efficiency, and fostering growth.

Gary Heath, Managing Director and Founder, Dad's Own Products

Join Global Online Networking Communities

Everyone knows—and likely loves—the Chamber of Commerce, but there are also so many online networking communities that small business owners can take advantage of. Small business owners can learn so much from others who are in different parts of the world and in vastly different industries. 

When small business owners think globally, they can solve their biggest business, revenue, sales, or operations challenges from a completely different perspective than if they just sought a local chamber with similar businesses.

Personally, the reason I love online networking communities is that I'm able to connect with business owners from all over the world and hear from them what is working and what is not working.

Bridget Sicsko, Tech of Systems and Messaging Support, Bridget Aileen LLC