Five Reasons Why Being a Part of a Community Can Help Your Business

At Bay Area Made, we obviously recognize the power of community— heck, that’s why we’re here! Many of our members have formed their own support networks as well, and we’ve seen first-hand how they inspire confidence, creativity and success. So we asked the members of the Creative Business League— a group of women entrepreneurs— to write up a few reasons why it’s helpful to create a group for small or creative businesses. Sharon Zimmerman (Sharon Z Jewelry), Alana Rivera (Etta + Billie), and Marja Germans Gard (Marja Germans Gard Studio/Lemonade Handmade) are founding members of Bay Area Made and the CBL.

As micro-business owners, we wear many hats and work long hours by ourselves to build our creative empires. All that working solo can really take a toll on you and your business. When you feel isolated, success can feel just slightly out of reach. That’s why, in 2010, a few like-minded business owners got together to form a group that would grow into the Creative Business League.

The Creative Business League is a group of kick-ass boss ladies who meet monthly to share the triumphs and tribulations of creative entrepreneurship over a killer meal and a glass (or more) of wine. Our goal is to boost each other along the steep trajectory of building a small business, and to share our strategies with others who are on the same path.

Over the years, each CBL member has found the group to be invaluable, and it’s been a huge factor in each of our successes. Here are the top 5 reasons why you need a business group:

1. Support

Owning your own business can be a lonely experience. Sometimes friends and spouses just don’t get it, but your business community will. Having a trusted colleague is incredibly helpful when you need to vent, cry, chat or just talk biz. That kind of support is priceless.

Marja Germans Gard, Marja Germans Gard Studio. Photo by Move MEdia

2. Feedback

A business group is the perfect place to get feedback on your business. Your colleagues will have a fresh perspective on new designs, branding, a new website, new scents, a new way to do things, etc. This can help make the difference between something good and something great.

3. Resources

Other business owners have all sorts of resources that can help make running your business easier. A business group is a great way to get info from a trusted source, since the whole purpose is helping each other. Get recommendations about a useful app, a fabulous business book, the inside scoop on a craft show experience, a packaging resource, a solid bookkeeper recommendation … the list goes on. Even if your businesses are different, many small business encounter the same hurdles, and hearing what others have done to solve those problems is so much more satisfying than reinventing the wheel.

“Getting and giving your insights and support is an incredible way to nurture you and your business. You will feel more confident. You will be able to look at things from a different perspective. ”

Alana Rivera, Etta + Billie. Photo by Heidi Zumbrun

4. Accountability

As small business owners, it can be hard to make progress on those big projects that can make the greatest impact on your business, especially since you have no boss to report to (besides yourself). We procrastinate. We fill our time with maybe-not-so-important to-dos. Life gets in the way. Sometimes all we need is a little nudge from a colleague to get things done. Accountability can do wonders for checking things off the list.

5. Growth

Being part of a group will push you and your business to the next level. Getting and giving your insights and support is an incredible way to nurture you and your business. You will feel more confident. You will be able to look at things from a different perspective. All of this makes you a better business person which ultimately helps your business succeed.

Convinced you need a business group? Here’s how to get started

How do you join a business group? Google your local Chamber of Commerce, see if there is a local group with shared interests (Green Business, Jewelry), or check out Etsy. Research national organizations that might be a good fit like the Indie Business Network or Ladies Who Launch. Or think about joining a co-working space. And of course, there’s Bay Area Made!

Don’t be afraid to approach another small business person to talk about starting your own group. That’s exactly how CBL started! In fact, we have some great tips on how to run your own small business group over on our blog here. We’ll tell you what we’ve learned, what we still struggle with, and our favorite resources so that you can foster a group of like-minded creatives in your own community.

Though we keep our core group small for most meetings, a few times a year the CBL invites other local makers for a public meeting to discuss our businesses, sometimes with a guest speaker. We’d love to have you over sometime! Sign up for our very infrequent mailing list here to get on the list for the next meeting.

Top photo: Sharon Zimmerman, Sharon Z Jewelry. Photo by Ryan Leggett.

The Creative Business League also includes the owners of Drywell Art, Kendra Renee Jewelry, Noteify, Bird vs. Bird, and Liz Oppenheim.
Sharon Z Jewelry
Marja Germans Gard and Lemonade Handmade
Etta + Billie

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