As many people have noted in many places over many years: running a business isn’t easy. From managing staff to taking care of customers and keeping your company profitable, the independent lifestyle can be as challenging as it is rewarding.
Whatever sector you belong to, there are bound to be both professional and personal challenges that you need help with now and then. Before the internet, you might have had to attend local networking events or pay for professional training to get over these hurdles.
While these are both still useful approaches for entrepreneurs, online business forums provide a free alternative. These communities offer a place for advice and support, and the opportunity to exchange messages with business owners who are on the same journey as you.
With so many small business advice forums out there, it can be tricky to know where to start. That’s why we’ve come up with a simple resource to finding the best UK small business forums:
No prizes for guessing what this website is all about! The name says it all: Business Advice Forum is a forum that provides advice for businesses, and it’s good at it. Struggling with social media marketing? Looking for advice on a legal issue? Want some practical tips on team management? Or do you just need a good old fashioned pep-talk on what it takes to run a successful business? No problem: you’ll find it here.
For small businesses in the construction industry, Contractor Talk is a valuable resource. Not only does this community of construction professionals have specific sections dedicated to trades ranging from roofing and flooring to masonry and carpentry, it also provides advice on how to successfully run a contracting-focused company. So whether you need help with sales and marketing or are looking for the best deal on a new set of tools, this network has you covered.
Gaming has been one of the fastest growing sectors in recent years; as a whole, the global video game industry generates more than $100 billion dollars each year. Game developers looking for a slice of this profitable pie can gain tips and knowledge by joining the community at GameDev.net, where users regular exchange ideas on the best way to run a successful games business. With technical topics like artificial intelligence and programming alongside business issues such as marketing and contracts, it’s an ideal place to pick up advice and receive support from likeminded developers.
As you are no doubt already aware, LinkedIn is one of the most popular choices for online business networking, and for good reason. This social network includes groups for every industry and sector, where small business owners regularly ask and answer questions relating to their professions. Can’t find a group you want to join? Consider starting your own. LinkedIn makes it easy to build a business community around yourself. Just be sure to follow the platform’s code of practice by avoiding self promotion and keeping conversations relevant to the interests of your group.
Hair and beauty business owners should bookmark Salon Geek immediately. This professional network is a bustling community where advice topics range from nail application techniques to Instagram marketing. It’s also an ideal place to post about any salon vacancies you might have. If you’re just starting out in the industry, ‘ask a pro’ threads allow you to submit questions to be answered by Salon Geek’s membership of industry veterans.
Shopify is one of the world’s most popular tools for ecommerce businesses. Its community of users are experienced in selling a wide range of products and services online, which makes its forum a useful network for anyone looking to set up a digital shopfront. Looking for feedback on the design of your online store, or need advice on turning a traditional brick and mortar business into a thriving online marketplace? If so, this could be the perfect small business forum for you.
While the startup community can be a competitive place, this small business forum proves that successful business owners are often willing to share their knowledge. Whether you’re working out what kind of business to start or need tips on how to make an established startup more profitable, Startup Nation is a popular place for entrepreneurs to ask questions on all aspects of startup life. It’s also good for feedback, functioning as a handy online focus group where you can bounce ideas off of seasoned startup owners before launching new products.
Freelance businesses often have to deal with issues that are different to those faced by larger companies, and that’s where Talk Freelance’s forum can help. This welcoming hub is frequented by freelancers of all types: designers, photographers, programmers, writers and marketers all check in with questions and answers, helping one another with topics such as how to write a freelance contract or techniques for engaging new clients on social media.
Wholesaling remains a cornerstone of product-based businesses, and The Wholesale Forums is a go-to advice portal for any entrepreneurs who belong to this lucrative sector. Whether you need tips on finding the right supplier, want to keep up with the latest products or fancy capitalising on the growing trend of dropshipping, this is the place to be.
Whatever industry your business belongs to, the UK Business Forums will have something for you. With dedicated areas for a variety of sectors (retailers, tradespeople, social enterprises and green businesses all have their own dedicated forums) and advice hubs covering every aspect of business you can think of, this is a great starting point for entrepreneurs who are new to using online forums. If you’ve just taken the leap into entrepreneurship, check out the threads under ‘first steps to starting a business’, which is filled with useful insights.