Online Forums Contribute to Small Biz Success

From when they're sweeping the floors to when they're turning off the lights, it's easy to see how small business owners can feel isolated in their journey to succeed. Many, however, have turned to online forums as a place where they can discuss business challenges, offer advice to peers and benchmark best practices.

In fact, a new study from Manta sponsored by Bank of America reveals the vital role online communities play in helping small businesses succeed. The study, which polled 24,723 small business owners, found that of 30 percent of entrepreneurs currently participating in professional online forums, 74 percent of them attribute their success to active involvement in these online communities.

"You get to become known as an expert. It helps build my credibility," says Bonnie Armstrong, owner of Marketing Alliance. "Small business owners trust the recommendations and advice more when it comes from peers who have relevant experience. Online forums are alive with entrepreneurs who are willing and eager to answer questions and give advice in the hopes of cultivating mutually beneficial relationships."

Other survey findings include that 44.7 percent of small business owners join online forums to network, followed by to learn (42.1 percent), to ask for help (7.9 percent) and other business goals (5.3 percent).

The majority (48 percent) of those who are on online forums have asked a question and 36.8 percent of them are interested in marketing topics the most.