When you’re running a business, some days it can feel like you’re belly dancing on rollerblades while swinging a cat. And let’s face it, it is hard to find time to work on your business, at the same time as you’re working in your business.
But there is a solution: networking.
By Michael Mekhitarian
After many years of working with small business, and running one, I’ve come to realise that business owners need these three things to survive and thrive:
Of course, over 2020 opportunities to attend functions and seminars have been pretty much non-existent, and it could be some time before they come around again.
But they’ll be even more imperative in a post Covid-19 environment.
Well, to coin a cheesy phrase: ‘Because we’re all in this together. ‘
As the business landscape changes and evolves and presents a reasonable degree of uncertainty, a referral network will be a critical marketing channel. Particularly if your budget is tight.
A ‘support group’ will be vital for understanding how other businesses are adapting and viewing opportunities and changes. Here’s the thing, SMEs, micro businesses and family businesses face a unique set of challenges, so it is important to find a group of trusted peers who understand what you are going through, and who are perhaps also facing similar issues. Having peers to bounce ideas around with really helps you to wrap your head around your problems and gives you access to fresh thinking.
Lastly, if you’re not taking advantage of opportunities for learning or stretching your own capabilities, then you’re stagnating. And stagnating is a death knell. Particularly in a business environment under disruption. While Covid-19 has caused widespread disruption on a large scale and in a short time frame, it’s also given birth to a whole new way of doing business. Technology and innovation are the keys to successfully moving forward into this new environment.
But there’s also something else that’s going to be key for future success: And that’s collaboration. Collaboration is becoming an increasingly important strategy for many small businesses as we begin to navigate the ‘new normal.’
And so, obviously, the way that each of these things is achievable, is through the power of networking. In fact, the majority of business owners and leaders will attest to the fact that networking not only plays a role in their individual success, but the success of their companies too.
BNI is a professional business networking organisation that operates globally in more than 70 countries, with more than a quarter of a million participants. Its sole focus is to help members generate new business through business referrals. The fact that it also provides a supportive group of trusted peers and learning opportunities is a bonus.
There are 6000 members all over Australia and weekly local chapter meetings provide business owners with a fantastic opportunity to down tools and meet up. Because referrals are openly encouraged, you can be sure that this is not a waste of your time. Potential business opportunities will come your way, because although you’ll join a ‘local’ chapter, you belong to a state, national, and global network – referrals can come from anywhere.
In fact, in the past 12 months (now, remember during this time most businesses have been in lockdown, or some form of limited trading for extended periods) in Australia alone, the organisation referred $500 million worth of business amongst its members – that averages out to about $83,000 per member.
Aside from the intangible benefits, based solely on the numbers, the financial value of being plugged into such a diverse network of professionals simply cannot be overlooked. But don’t just take my word for it, do the research for yourself. You can access the BNI website here.
At ATB partners we have more than 60 years combined experience assisting SMEs, we can help you not just survive what’s ahead. Contact us for accounting and tax advice, financial planning, business mentoring or Virtual CFO services.