How to Leverage Social Networks to Help Sell Your Business
When it comes to social networks, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin usually come to mind as a means to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues. But, are you aware of how social networks may assist you in selling your business? Social networks, including community groups, forums and blogs, offer valuable resources that can help you throughout the selling process and increase your chances of a successful sale. Not only can they keep you informed on the latest news and trends regarding business ownership, they also allow you to engage, ask questions and exchange ideas.
Join Social Networking Groups and Online Communities
Social networks are a popular and convenient way to engage with like-minded people and gain insight on selling your business. Yet, don't forget about keeping things confidential .You’ll probably want to refrain from divulging too many details about your business if you are asking for advice about selling.
Facebook is the largest and most active of all social networks with a variety of small business groups focusing on different topics. The largest and most active groups normally appear first in search results, with more specialized and local groups following. Three of the largest Facebook communities are Startup Nation, Google Small Business and BizBuySell.
LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking and B2B social network. As a member, you can join any of their business community groups or follow professional company pages. Two of the largest small business groups are Staples Small Business Network and Small Business Network: Startups & Entrepreneurs, while BizBuySell has one of the most active and informative company pages.
Twitter is a popular mini blogging platform used by many knowledgeable entrepreneurs, including business owners who are interested in discussing all things small business. Oftentimes, a Twitter user with a targeted list of "followers" will "tweet" specific comments, questions and advice – "Best advice for a first time business seller?" for example – and members of their network reply with their insight. This can be a quick and helpful way to get expert level tips about selling.
Meetup is one of the largest networks of local groups. Anyone can organize a local meetup group or find one in their local community that matches their interests. There are thousands of local meetup groups, many of which are business-oriented, that meet both face-to-face and online.
Participate in Small Business Forums to Discuss Issues and Find Solutions
Bank of America Small Business Community is an online forum sharing insights and tips to assist small business owners. This is an active forum where you can post questions, share opinions and engage in online discussions in everything from cash management to business valuation. You can share a story or answer a question. You can also stay up to date by subscribing to its RSS feed.
Follow small business blogs and websites to keep up on the latest news and trends
Small business blogs and websites, such as smallbiztrends.com, allbusiness.com and BizBuySell’s blog, [hyperlink: blog.bizbuysell.com] not only provide informative small business-related articles, they also offer the opportunity to comment on specific topics – including selling a business. Other valuable sources of information include www.sba.gov/blogs, FitSmallBusiness.com, business2community.com and Inc.com. These types of sites generally have very targeted, knowledgeable audiences, so leaving comments and getting involved in discussions could connect you with fellow business owners who have great advice to share.
Once you get involved in these communities, remember that what you get out of them tends to relate directly to what you put in. The more involved you become, the more you'll likely find people are willing to help. For that reason, you might want to determine the one or two online communities you find most helpful and concentrate on using them so you can establish strong connections and reap the greatest amount of benefits.
Take Advantage of Small Business Organizations
Small business organizations offer a wide range of resources, educational programs and practical tools to assist entrepreneurs and business owners. Most of these organizations are non-profit or funded by the government and their services are free or at a very low cost.
SBDCs (Small Business Development Centers) provide free, confidential consulting services and training workshops for small business owners and entrepreneurs. They are run by professional consultants and small business owners with diverse backgrounds and expertise in a variety of industries. You can meet with one of their advisors, attend a workshop, or sign up for one of their online courses. SBDCs are one of the nation’s largest small business assistance programs, with nearly 1000 offices located throughout the United States.
SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) offers counseling, advice, and other assistance to small businesses. Its purpose is to help Americans start, build and grow businesses through its extensive network of field offices and partnerships. SBA’s blog is one of the most popular online destinations for small business owners, offering the latest small business related news, such as new legislation, government programs, funding and events. The SBA also has a learning center, as well as a YouTube channel with videos on how to start, manage, and grow your business.
SCORE offers the nation’s largest network of free, expert business mentors. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or an existing business owner, SCORE offers a full range of expert advice from their mentors, from running and growing a business, to financing and selling a business. You can request for a local mentor in your area, or you can contact one via email. You can also take online workshops or access information through their blog.
Tap into Your Contact List
While online networking and free small business resource organizations are crucial, it's also important not to forget about your own personal network. As a business owner, you most likely know fellow entrepreneurs who have sold establishments at some point. Having a casual conversation with these individuals about how they handled the selling process can be invaluable, especially if you are a first-time seller. There is perhaps no better advice than that of a friend or close acquaintance who you know has your best interests in mind and can speak from experience. If you don't know anyone who has specifically been through the selling process, ask your contacts if they can refer you to anyone.
Key Questions to Ask Your Contacts on Selling a Business
- What was the most important decision you made throughout the process of selling your business?
- What are some mistakes you made during the process of selling your business that you wish you could have avoided?
- Did you use a broker to sell your business? Were you satisfied with their services? If so, can you refer me to them?
- What were the most important questions to ask potential buyers of the business?
- What steps did you take to ensure the books were in order before selling? How far in advance did you do this?
- What specific resources did you use during the process of selling your business?
- How did you know you were ready to sell your business?
Selling a business can be a difficult process, but it's important to always remember that there are resources available to make it easier, including online communities and professional organizations. Even if you're not planning on selling anytime soon, but have other questions related to running the business, you should not hesitate to leverage these types of social connections – they're some of the most powerful tools available to entrepreneurs. Another valuable resource is BizBuySell’s book, Guide to Selling Your Small Business, which you can download online for free.