Do you need help answering a question related to your business, whether it’s about pricing certain products or reaching your target audience?
Advice from your mentors and advisers can be beneficial, but it may also pay to get an outside perspective. Fortunately, the web offers many opportunities to seek advice from your fellow entrepreneurs.
Here are four popular forums for finding answers to business questions. They’re all free but generally require signing in with an email address or social media account to take full advantage of them.
Quora — Quora is a crowdsourced Q&A site where an awful lot of business-savvy people hang out. Venture capitalists and startup CEOs frequently chime in with advice. Anyone with a Quora account may ask a question, and the responses are often extremely detailed. For example, in the Startup Advice and Strategy section, founders and consultants offer pointers on building a sustainable startup: In a question about marketing without a budget, consultant Sangeet Paul Choudary suggests tips such as piggybacking on an existing network, using widgets for sharing content, and focusing on reaching out to “superconnectors.” Ask your own questions for detailed feedback on your own problem area.
LinkedIn groups — LinkedIn hosts thousands of discussion forums based around themes, such as industry and location, that enable its members to connect with industry leaders in their market sectors or geographic areas. Linked Strategies offers a list of the 20 most active and influential LinkedIn groups for business owners. You can sign up to have group posts emailed to you daily or weekly or choose to read them only when you visit LinkedIn.
Biznik — Biznik is an online social network designed specifically for independent businesspeople, whether you’re a real estate broker, a massage therapist, or a website developer. The site, which promotes regional networking events, is home to nearly 400 groups organized around regions or industry themes (such as social media or real estate). BizTalk, the site’s moderated forum, hosts serious discussions about the trials of being your own boss.
AdviceCaster — This new email-based service from Intuit lets entrepreneurs ask business questions and receive direct responses from other small-business owners. Once you’ve reviewed the advice, you can rate its quality by choosing to “take it” or “leave it.” Your response will help the service determine who the most helpful sources are — and prioritize their feedback accordingly. Conversely, if you’re in a giving mood, you can also sign up to give advice and send your own feedback to peers who’ve asked business-related questions.