We’re fortunate in Columbus to have signs of progress all around us: our region is home to the largest public university campus in the nation by enrollment; we’re one of the fastest-growing areas in the state, adding more than 122,000 jobs since 2010; the city’s unemployment rate is lower than both Ohio’s and the national average; and our region is a hub for logistics, manufacturing, science, technology and other innovation-based industries.
All of these bode well as big-picture, macroeconomic indicators — and we’ll all be watching closely in the coming year, especially with a new administration in Washington and a degree of uncertainty in the markets broadly — but at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, we work closely with a wide range of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The question for them is simple: How best can I capitalize on wider economic opportunity with limited resources?
Building connections and networking
By now, you’ve likely heard about the importance of networking ad nauseam. But this is about more than polishing your social media presence; seek out local organizations that leverage their size and scale to introduce you to relevant peers in your field. Leaning on the power of established business networks can also provide access to localized research and information, as well as wider, more established platforms for promoting your business.
Making contacts in the business community is similar to investing: the returns may not be immediate, but over time networking does tend to pay off, either in sales or mutually beneficial partnerships.
Understanding how laws and regulations might impact you
Laws, rules and regulations affect all businesses (something we’ll all be reminded of as tax season grows nearer). What’s important to realize is that there are business advocacy groups who stay current on complex, ever-changing regulations at the local, state and federal level — so you don’t have to.
Group savings programs and other benefits
The typical day of a small business owner rarely affords the time or leverage to negotiate significant discounts on office supplies, insurance and other necessary business expenses. In addition to financial savings and benefits, business-focused organizations may also offer advisements, mentoring, board membership and more to help entrepreneurs become more established in the community.
— The Columbus Chamber of Commerce offers news, information and other resources that are free and available to all businesses at columbus.org. —