Key local resources for small business owners

If you’re a small business owner or sole trader, you wear many hats during the working day. One minute you’re expected to be a bookkeeper, the next you’re a marketing guru – but what happens if you’re not quite at guru level for marketing?

Covering so many different disciplines at work can be a lonely affair – there’s no one to tell you if you’re getting things right, or missing an important trick. Small business owners need information and people in a similar position with whom they can talk and exchange ideas.

In this post, we’re going to outline a handful of key resources you can turn to and support in sales, marketing, accounting, and many other business functions.

Are there organisations that can support me?

In short, yes. There are local chapters of national organisations – such as the Federation of Small Business and Chambers of Commerce - as well as ad hoc groups of local business people (LinkedIn is a good place to find these groups, more on that in a moment).

The FSB is a UK-wide network offering members a range of support, advice and financial expertise aimed at helping businesses grow. The organisation is divided into regions, then sub-divided into branches that run events to encourage community building.

Chambers of Commerce exist across the UK and are usually divided along county lines. Staffordshire’s Chambers of Commerce, for instance, empowers members with local business networking sessions, training opportunities and discounted services, business promotions, educational and other events.

The British Library and its local affiliates can also be useful places to find out information that will help with the running of your business.

For younger people who need support to start a business, the Prince’s Trust offers training, mentoring, and help to find funding and further resources. In addition, various trade bodies and associations have local networks for members to come together.

What about online resources?

LinkedIn is a great place to start. Not only are you likely to find groups in your chosen field, or specialist groups to help build your skills in online marketing or social media, you’ll also find free, independently-established groups for geographically-connected small businesses. One example is the East Midlands Network, set up with the simple aim of letting business people in that area develop contacts and opportunities, and promote their businesses and events with each other.

Strictly speaking, it’s not a local resource, but Smallbusiness.co.uk provides advice, helpful guides, and Q&As with small business experts.

Similarly, the .gov website offers a range of advice and support of which every small business owner or sole trader should be aware.

Whether you need information on:

What events should I look out for?

We’ve already mentioned events run by the FSB, your local Chamber of Commerce, and various independent networking groups set up on LinkedIn, but there are others that will be of use, too.

Small Business Saturday is a grassroots campaign to encourage consumers to support small businesses in their communities. Its Bus Tour travels around the UK hosting local workshops and business exhibitions.

It also offers:

Making full use of local resources can be a great way to set your business up for the future, so it’s worth familiarising yourself with these useful resources. Or, for further useful information, Vistaprint’s ideas and advice page is also a handy place to visit.

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