Networking: A Shortcut to Success - BusinessTown

Networking: A Shortcut to Success

Looking back at my many businesses, I realize that I could have been exponentially more successful if I knew then what I know now.

If I had avoided some of the biggest mistakes and consistently applied the best practices for successfully starting and running a business I would have achieved much higher levels of sales, profits, and growth. I also would have avoided a lot of stress and frustration.

One of the biggest mistakes I made in business was not getting out and connecting with other entrepreneurs both in my industry and outside my industry.

My feeling was, why should I? I knew it all anyway! I had tons of business experience and a Harvard Business School education. Besides, meeting with other entrepreneurs would probably be more of a social thing and would just get in the way of moving my business ahead. And to be honest, despite my multimillion-dollar-a-year income, it killed me to pay the several thousand dollar annual dues that the better business groups required.

What a dumb mistake that was! It is just another example of working harder as opposed to working smarter: “Pennywise but pound foolish.”

Joining the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Paid Big Dividends

The big benefit for me in joining YPO came from the monthly small group “forum” meetings, where you get together with maybe ten other entrepreneurs and in a confidential setting advise one another on business and personal issues. Personal issues! When I first joined I was surprised to see the important emphasis on personal issues, but I learned to appreciate how personal issues impact your ability to run your business, to run it with a clear head and to be as successful as you can be.

Even though the entrepreneurs in my YPO forum group were all from different noncompeting industries, the advice and knowledge and insights I learned were incredible!

Later I edited a book for YPO International filled with hundreds of stories from YPOers around the world about how YPO helped them—the stories were amazing, and they generally tended to emphasize the forum experience.

While I highly recommend YPO, the criteria to join can’t be met by everyone, as your business must be a certain size, you need to be within a certain age range, and so on.

If you don’t quality for YPO, there is also Entrepreneurs’ Organization as well as other alternatives. Currently, I am in a monthly forum group for Harvard Business School alumni modeled after the YPO example. Before I joined YPO, I belonged to a forum-type group put together as a small private business by a local entrepreneur who acted as the professional facilitator.

Industry Associations That Really Exchange Business Ideas Can Be Very Valuable

Also, I recommend you consider looking into industry associations. Sometimes these associations put together a group of people in the same industry but from different geographical areas. For example, a friend of mine belonged to a group of independent furniture retailers with noncompeting locations in different parts of the country who met every several months to exchange business ideas.

Small “Forum” Groups Can Be Particularly Powerful

This January I presented to my Harvard Business School forum group a concept for a new business that I had been thinking about for a couple of years and recently spent many hours working on. Within 30 minutes, they completely changed the direction of my thoughts!

Another time in a forum group a member gave me just three minutes of advice that ended up saving me millions of dollars in taxes.

Another time my YPO forum group strongly advised me to shut down my money-losing website CareerCity.com. One member said, “Show me where the server is plugged in and I’ll unplug it now!” Stubbornly, I didn’t listen, and while I ended up eventually selling CareerCity.com to TrueCareers, a subsidiary of Sallie Mae, I sold it for much less than my ongoing losses between that forum meeting and when the sale took place.

In summary, while joining a lot of groups and associations can potentially help your business, what is most likely to move it ahead is joining a group that has regular, very small group forum-like meetings.

Takeaways You Can Use

  • Don’t be a lone wolf; get out and network.
  • Consider both general business and industry groups.
  • Monthly small “forum” group meetings can be particularly powerful.

About Bob Adams

Bob Adams is a Harvard MBA serial entrepreneur. He has started over a dozen businesses including one that he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He has written 17 books and created 52 online courses for entrepreneurs. Bob also founded BusinessTown, the go-to learning platform for starting and running a business.

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Hi there, I’m Bob Adams, BusinessTown founder, serial entrepreneur and Harvard MBA.

I have started 17 businesses. Most of my businesses I started with less than $2,000 – including one business that I sold for $40 million dollars.

But I was once in your shoes, not sure what to do or how to get started. I had to learn what works and what doesn’t work, sometimes the hard way.

I’ve got great news for you! You’re not going to go through years of trial and error. Because the recipe for business success is waiting for you on BusinessTown.

On Businesstown you’ll get short video courses that will show you exactly what to do at every step of starting your business. From finding your idea to writing your plan and making your first sale, we will guide you through the entire process.

So if you are thinking about starting your own business, take advantage of our 7 day free trial and see what BusinessTown can do for you.

BusinessTown founder Bob Adams’s courses and books have been featured in:

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Frequently asked questions:

BusinessTown is an e-learning platform built for people interested in starting and running a business. 

On BusinessTown, you get unlimited access to 130+ business courses taught by real successful entrepreneurs and highly skilled experts. You also gain access to 50+ business tools and to our discussion board, where you can get expert answers to your business questions.

No matter what you want to learn or where you are on your business journey, there is a course for you. 

Marketing, ideas, financing, planning, naming, how to get started… BusinessTown covers everything you need to start and run your business right. 

The courses are available anywhere, anytime, on any device, and you can take them at your own pace. 

Create your BusinessTown account to get started and try BusinessTown free for 7 days. 

BusinessTown includes unlimited access to 130+ business courses taught by real successful entrepreneurs and highly skilled experts.

You also get full access to 50+ downloadable tools like worksheets, templates, and samples, and to our discussion board where you can get an answer to any business question you have. 

BusinessTown is $19.95 per month. It provides unlimited access to all 130+ courses, all tools, and our discussion board, where you can get expert answers to your business questions.

We offer a free 7-day trial. If you decide that BusinessTown is not for you, then just cancel within 7 days of starting your free trial and you will not be charged at all.

If you wish to cancel your BusinessTown account, you can do so through your account page under the Billing section. 

If you have any questions, email us at bbisson@businesstown.com. We are more than happy to help!

BusinessTown includes 130+ courses on all business topics: Getting started, business ideas, business plans, strategy, marketing, websites, social media, online advertising, finance, accounting, leadership, sales, legal issues, home-based businesses and more!

Looking for a business idea? Why don’t you check out our course How to Find a Business Idea. 

Do you need help creating your business plan? We’ve got you covered. Take a look at our course How to Create a Business Plan.

Do you want to be walked step by step through the entire process of starting a business? Check out our ultimate course, Start-a-Business 101. 

Are you not sure that you are ready to start your own business? Consider our course, What It Takes to Start a Business.

Are you looking for financing for a new or existing business? We offer 5 courses on financing a small business. We suggest you start with the course, How to Finance Your Business.

Do you want to learn about marketing? Because it’s so important, we offer over 30 courses on sales and marketing. Consider starting with the short course, Developing Your Marketing Message.

Want to learn about marketing online? We offer 5 courses on creating websites, 6 courses on digital marketing and 5 courses on promoting through social media. To get started we recommend the course, The Complete Guide to Digital Marketing.

Looking to get inspired and learn how other entrepreneurs succeeded in starting and growing their businesses? We offer several courses on this including, How to Succeed as a Woman Entrepreneur.

Do you already have a business and are looking to improve it? We have several courses on this topic. Try starting with the course, How to Boost Profits.

No matter where you are on your business journey, there is a course for you.   

On BusinessTown you have access to 50+ downloadable tools like worksheets, samples, and templates to help you start and run a business. 

Our most popular tools include:

The Ultimate Startup Checklist, 18 pages 

The 300 Best Small Business Ideas ebook, 105 pages 

The Complete Business Plan Template, 29 pages

Complete Sample Business Plan, 35 pages 

Sample Marketing Plan Under $2k, 12 pages

One Page Marketing Plan Template

One Page Sample Marketing Plan

50 Guerilla Marketing Tactics Worksheet, 8 pages

Business Idea Evaluation Worksheet 

8 Basic Steps to Making the Sale Template

Sales Presentations that Your Customers Will Love Template

Sales Presentation Sample Dialog

50 Ways to Generate Endless Sales Leads Worksheet 

Cold Calling Script Template and Sample

Emails that Land Sales Template and Sample

Voicemails that Get Callbacks Template and Sample

Income Statement Templates and Samples

Balance Sheet Templates and Samples

Cash Flow Templates and Samples

Calculate Depreciation Template

Key Financial Ratios Sample

How I Started a Successful Business with No Money and No Experience, Case Study

Key Questions to Select the Best Business Idea Worksheet

Validate Your Business Idea Worksheet

Using the 6-Step Approach to Choose a Business Idea Case Study

21 Easy-to-Start Part-Time Business Ideas Guide

42 Home-Based Businesses You Can Start Guide

Why I Repeatedly Changed the Legal Entity of My Business, Case Study

Evaluate Customer Segments and Competitors Worksheet

Differentiate Your Business from Competitors Worksheet

How I Differentiated My First Business in a Crowded Marketplace, Case Study

Creating a Press Release Template and Sample

Marketing Bob’s Rent-A-Bike, Case Study

Planning, Designing and Creating Your Website Worksheet

Search Engine Optimization Worksheet

50 Blog Post Ideas Worksheet

50 Creative Online Marketing Ideas Worksheet

Evaluate Potential Names for Your Business Worksheet

How I Financed Buying a Business Case Study

Cover Letter to Seek Financing Sample

Collection Letter Samples

The Four Quadrant Theory of Time Management Graphic

BusinessTown courses will show you how to start your business right and grow it into a highly successful enterprise. 

You will learn from highly experienced entrepreneurs and experts who have been there and done it. You won’t have to learn by trial and error. You won’t have to guess what to do next. BusinessTown courses will guide you through your entire business journey.

Even if you are a beginner you will quickly learn how to start a business you love. If you already have a business, BusinessTown will show how to grow it and make it better.

By just watching one video lesson a day (about 7 minutes average) you can quickly ramp up your business knowledge. No matter where you are on your business journey, there is a course for you taught by an expert on BusinessTown.

What would you like to learn more about today? Starting a business? How to find a business idea? How to write a business plan? How to do your marketing? How to build an online presence? How to get financing? How to prepare financial statements? BusinessTown has courses that cover all these topics and hundreds more.

So if you want to become a smarter entrepreneur and start and build a successful business, you’ll want to start streaming the courses on BusinessTown today.

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