The SBDC’s own Facebook group, ‘I’m a small business owner in Western Australia’, was created in 2014 to provide an active online community in which local business owners could network, ask for advice and share knowledge.
The group recently hit the 13,000-member mark and has proved to be a highly appreciated asset for small business owners to crowdsource advice from other business owners in their community and get support.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when interacting in the group, to get the most out of it.
The group is a promotion free space. Group members agree not to post any promotion content, including in their comments or to share posts from their business page. This rule is a strong point of difference for the group, allowing members to enjoy high quality discussions and content without being subject to advertising. This goes for private messaging promotional content to members too.
“The fact that the group is not an advertising platform is one of the things that make the group great! There are plenty of other spaces for that.” Sally (group member)
…but let them know about yourself
SBDC encourages new group members to post an initial message when they join the group to say hello and let people know what you do, or what you are planning. It’s a great way to get support from the network and you never know, someone else in the group might be operating in your local area or have been searching for a product or service like yours and get in touch.
“Hi everyone! Just joined this group and so glad I found it. I’m in the planning stages of starting a small business in my beautiful hometown of Broome. Having support and advice from this group will be invaluable.” Julie (group member)
“I am the owner of a small horse-riding business in North Jindong. This has been running for 10 years. We offer trailrides, lessons, pony rides and more speciality tours including brewery and winery tours. I’m excited to be included into this group to share the good and the bad that we face in business and hopefully grow and learn from hearing others experiences.” Linda (group member)
Use the search function
Because ‘I’m a small business owner in Western Australia’ has been an active space for more than six years, it is a rich source of information and advice. Before asking a question, it can be useful to use the search function to see if anyone has asked or answered the same question recently to save yourself time waiting for answers. The search function can generally be found on the left hand side of the group page in a desktop browser, while on a mobile app it is often near the group name in the top bar.
The more specific you are in your request for business advice, the more useful responses you will generally get. For example, instead of saying ‘What do you think of my website design’ ask questions such as:
- Do you find it easy to understand from my website what I do and how to contact me?
- I know that lots of my customers are searching on mobile, is there anything I can improve to make my website more mobile friendly?
- Do you think I should include sliders on my website, I’ve had contradictory advice?
- I’ve been told I should have an ‘about us’ page on my website — do you have one and do you think it has helped you win customers?
Remember, don’t add a promotion disguised as a question — these are pretty easy to spot!
Asking and answering business related questions and giving and receiving business advice is one of the keyways to use the group, but it’s not the only way to participate. You can:
- recommend business books you have read, TED talks or other resources you think would help other business owners
- respond to introductory posts to welcome people to the group
- share relevant information such as grants or opportunities for local businesses
- warn people about scams or phishing emails that you think might trip up some people
- like (or love) other members posts and comments to show support.
And don’t link to your own video – even though it may be useful to others – they are viewed as self-promotion.
You can also let fellow business owners you meet offline know about the group so that they can benefit too.
How to get on board
If you are a Facebook user and would like to become a member of ‘I’m a small business in Western Australia’, simply search for the group under the ‘groups’ tab and click ‘Join Group’ under the cover photo. You can only join the group from your profile, not from a page you manage. You will be asked to answer several questions, including where you live (this group is only open to prospective and current business owners based in WA) and that you agree to the group rules. A group administrator will assess your request in business hours and if you meet the criteria, you will be added to the group and sent a welcome message. You can then introduce yourself as a new member.
Being part of a business community, even a virtual one, can help people in every stage of their business journey. ‘I’m a small business owner in Western Australia’ is here to support you – 13,000 members can’t be wrong.