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Small business owners, by the very nature of running a small business, don’t have the luxury of a big network of like-minded professionals. Everyone has their own niche, interests, or business plan—so where can you turn for advice, feedback, and even commiseration?
Whether you’re just starting a business or growing it into its next stage, you’d benefit from having somewhere to discuss issues and find solutions. Why waste your time reinventing the wheel? You’ve got the next best thing up ahead.
The Internet is a great resource to find small business forums specifically aimed towards young entrepreneurs and business owners around the world. And with a wide range of industries and interests, you’re sure to find a forum for almost any business-related topic—from taking out small business loans to choosing the right business credit card.
These forums can be a great way to fill the gaps of your knowledge, get or give expert advice, and enjoy a sense of community—so that you don’t feel like you’re all alone as you set out to make the world a better place.
Here are 18 of the best small business forums:
Small business forums is a classic small business forum covering a wide range of topics you might be interested in, like taxes, financing, and legal or regulatory issues. It also offer a classifieds section where you can find professionals to help you with your copywriting, social media marketing, website design and development, and search engine optimization needs.
While not exclusively for small business owners, Quora lets users ask questions on virtually any business-related topic—and every “best answer” has been voted on. Social Media Examiner recommends using Quora selectively, however, as it can act as a self-promotion platform on occasion. But if you target your search, it’s a good opportunity to connect with experts, find up-to-date blog topics, and network with others in your industry.
Small Business Forum.net is an active message board that offers sections on starting a small business, managing a business, accounting and taxes, payroll and human resources, financing, and more. While there is a heavy online marketing presence, there’s also a section on traditional marketing.
BizWarriors is an excellent resource for connecting with other entrepreneurs or business leaders. Business owners can access information generally about planning, starting, and financing a small business—but you can also find information specifically tailored to sales, accounting and finance, human resources, and legal advice.
The Small Business Brief message board style forum touts itself as “A friendly place to share small business ideas and knowledge, ask questions, find help, and encourage others that are involved in the small business industry.” It offers advice and guidance on many aspects of operating a small business—especially online—including email marketing, link building, social media management, and pay-per-click advertising.
The CNET Small Business and Startups Forum follows a question-and-answer format about technology-related issues, and you can submit your own question or browse through similar topics and threads. It features a wide variety of discussions on operating systems, software and hardware for small businesses, and mobile devices.
The Small Business Computing and e-Commerce Forum deals mostly with computers and technology, as well as e-commerce issues that impact small businesses.
Some small business forums are industry-specific, like FohBoh, which focuses on the restaurant industry. Here small business owners discuss a wide variety of food service-related issues, like whether tipping is a good or bad idea, how to motivate wait staff, and the potential value of loyalty rewards programs for customers and guests.
The QuickBooks Online Community forum is a question-and-answer based community operated by both experts from QuickBooks and customers who are willing to help by sharing their business experiences and solutions. Topics include setting up a company, accounting, sales, dealing with vendors, taxes, and running reports.
The Practical Machinist is a popular virtual bulletin board, claiming to be the “largest manufacturing technology community on the web” and offering practical advice from other members about the operations of one’s business, shop management, and owner issues. Besides the forum, this site also has articles and videos on related topics.
While the Warrior Forum is primarily for Internet-based businesses, it’s still a great place for online conversations with other entrepreneurs interested in Internet marketing. Calling themselves warriors, the members here are very open about sharing both their successes and their failures. This site also contains blogs, social groups, and a marketplace where you can advertise your relevant high-quality products.
The Bank of America small business forum offers “expert insights, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to see your business grow.” In addition to offering a variety of message boards, Bank of America also provides information in the forum’s resource center relevant to small businesses owners, like self-financing, building credit, and credit lines versus business credit cards.
The Business Advice Forum is a business and webmaster forum that allows you to make introductions, ask questions, and get advice on topics related to business property, HR, legal issues, business planning, finance, and accounting. The message threads are primarily about online businesses.
The UK Business Forums is a UK-based message board offering news and advice for those engaging in international business. For small business owners looking to expand beyond their borders, this forum is a treasure trove of information—plus opportunities to connect with small business owners who have global perspectives.
Another UK-based business message board, UK Business Labs not only offers technology advice, business planning information, HR and hiring best practices, accounting, legal, and trademark forums, and tips for startups, it also has a specific forum for women in business.
LinkedIn Groups are a little different from typical message boards, but still provide exceptional opportunities for professionals to get advice, find answers, and network with other small business owners. Each group runs and operates a little autonomously, so some are open and anyone can join, while others are membership-only and you must be accepted by the group manager. The closed groups tend to be more strictly focused on the particular topic.
The Creative COW business and marketing forum is ideal for those in creative spaces. In addition to a wide range of advice from shared office environments to marketing, this site has tutorials, podcasts, and a job board.
Alignable is a forum that makes it easy to meet other local business owners, encourage customer referrals among each other, and get answers and advice from experts. Because this forum is built on relationships, it includes a section for “Member Stories,” and you can also scan your current contacts to find out if any of them are also small business owners on the site.