business community

Building a Business through Community by @WhaleyBookkeep

by Melissa Whaley | Featured Contributor 

I am an extrovert, which can be quite a challenge when working from home with a toddler. It became even more of a challenge when I moved over 400 miles away from my hometown so my husband could pursue a master’s degree.  Isolation and loneliness can easily set-in when working from home, but I managed to use technology to my advantage and build a community that moves with me.

This is about my story but, I will leave you with a few key takeaways that I’ve learned while building my business through community.

business community

 

Before joining a few key Facebook groups, my business was pretty stagnant.

I had one or two part-time clients and I wasn’t terribly motivated to put myself out there and grow. Once I got active networking with other women business owners, I was inspired and motivated to get my butt in gear and make my business a serious thing. I can definitively say that 75% of my new clients this year have come from my relationships inside Facebook groups.

When I first started using Facebook groups they had nothing to do with business. I was in local mom groups, interest groups, and a few buy/sell/trade groups. Then a friend invited me to join her Facebook group for lady entrepreneurs, and everything changed.

Jessica Rea introduced me to her Ladypreneur Community and it opened my eyes to a whole new way to network with other women. They were struggling through the same things I was and offered their support when I was frustrated or in need of guidance. I could also offer support to those who needed my expertise, taxes and bookkeeping. It was in answering people’s questions without any agenda that I found myself getting more and more new client inquiries.

I eventually found other great Facebook groups that grew my network and community more. I was able to connect with other bookkeepers who were working from home and talk about our unique challenges. I was able to find a group of seasoned tax pros where I could ask questions when I got stuck on something.

I have learned about marketing, design, and better business processes all from the people I have met in Facebook groups. It was, and still is, an incredible the wealth of knowledge and community I was able to tap into.

Here are a few things I have learned from being an active and contributing member of Facebook Groups:

Not every group is the right fit.

There are literally thousands of groups out there targeted to entrepreneurs and business owners, don’t feel like you have to join them all. Also you may need to test drive a few groups to find the one (or couple) that you really jive with. If you find that you aren’t benefiting from a particular group, then leave. You don’t have to be in a group just because someone said you should.

Facebook groups are for networking, not marketing.

Every group has it’s own unique set of rules, but please don’t be that obnoxious girl that is trying to promote her business without actually providing value to the group. Take the time to get to know other people in the group, build relationships, and share knowledge freely.

Make sure people know what you do.

When you join a new group, take time to introduce yourself according to the group guidelines.  Also be sure that if someone clicks onto your personal profile that they can find your business info. Whether it is linking your business page to your personal profile, or just putting a link into the description of your profile and cover photo (thanks Jessica for that trick). Groups are linked to your personal profile, not your business page, so don’t make it difficult for people to find out more about what you do.

business community friends

I feel so much less isolated now that I have a community to go to when I need interaction. I have developed genuine friendships with people that I have met in Facebook groups. I have completely changed the way I run my business because of the information and relationships that came from groups.

How have Facebook groups or other communities help you build your business?

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Melissa WhaelyHello there, I’m Melissa Whaley, owner of Whaley Bookkeeping.  I specialize in virtual bookkeeping and tax preparation for entrepreneurs. It excites me to help people understand and take control of their finances, especially in their businesses. I believe that anyone is capable of success if their passions are accompanied with the right tools. I love working with new business owners to help them set-up systems that will take the stress out their finances.

I am a licensed tax preparer in the state of California and have been helping small business owners since 2009. I am a Wave Accounting Pro, Quickbooks Online ProAdvisor, and Freshbooks Bookkeeper.

You will often find me drinking a cup of coffee while hanging out in  Facebook Groups, or on my YouTube channel making videos to help Etsy sellers with their bookkeeping. In my personal life I am married to a wonderful husband, have a 6 year old daughter and a 1 year old son.

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