The idea of running your own business and being your own boss can sound liberating and empowering … until you actually do it and realise what a very different playing field it is, requiring another mentality and skill sets.
One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is feeling the responsibility of the business entirely on their shoulders with nobody else to brainstorm with or make decisions with. You are the brain of the business, and when you first start out, you are expected to take on all the roles - director, administrator, accountant, cleaner, salesperson, customer service, marketing, supplies … it can all get rather overwhelming.
And when you do get the business off the ground, you alone take on the worry and stress of staying afloat, bringing in the profits, innovating, and navigating past competitors in your industry.
Family and friends can offer moral support and perhaps chip in with some skills. Small business owners can still feel vulnerable and unsure of decisions and risks and are susceptible to so many uncontrollable and unforeseeable circumstances.
What if there is a place small business owners can go to for support, for networking and to learn from other people's experiences?
The Friendliest Network in Town
The Micro Business Forum (MBF) was created with this in mind. It is the only professional network to support solopreneurs and micro business owners with fewer than 5 employees.
MBF allows small business owners to connect with like-minded individuals in a similar situation. It takes the sting out of the loneliness of running one's business and provides a networking opportunity to help one another grow. It is an empowering space for small business owners to know there is support to help them thrive. There is nothing like stepping into a space and meeting people who know exactly what you are talking about and how you feel, and who have taken a similar journey.
MBF has gone through a few rounds of christening and it started in 2003 as the Home Based Business Club. Later, the name was changed to Home Business Forum (HBF) and membership has grown since then to include micro business owners and the self-employed. On 22 February 2013, it finally took on the name of Micro Business Forum (MBF) as it is known today.
As a testament to the success of MBF in what it has set out to be, it is now affectionately known as The Friendliest Network in Town and businesses recognise it as the Home of Entrepreneurs.
MBF has proven that doing business can be happy, friendly and supportive.
A Bundle of Sticks
MBF has a whole new take on the concept of doing business. Instead of focusing on stereotypical ideas of ambition and competition, MBF brings businesses together, connects people, and shares experiences and skills in order to grow together.
Aesop's story of the bundle of sticks is what MBF is doing by bringing together small businesses.
Alone, a small business owner has to rely only on themselves to survive. As a single stick, it is easily breakable and there is no support system to help one single business ride through a storm. Just think about the last few years when Australia has endured so many challenges - droughts, bush fires, a pandemic, floods. The psychological toll on a single business owner to get the business afloat through all that is immense.
Together, small business owners support and encourage each other, pool together their talents and experiences, and brainstorm and share tools, strategies and resources, precisely during the most difficult periods. Nobody is alone or left behind. Ultimately, the whole community thrives because everyone is growing.
Learning to Grow
Having an open and learning mindset is what helps businesses grow, and MBF is rich in its opportunities to provide education, networking and support. Whether it is a start-up or an established micro-business, people can come here for regular events to learn, grow and succeed in what they do.
Members of the MBF love sharing their expertise and skill sets. A single person cannot do everything and excel at everything. MBF has more than 40 members who each bring in their talents and knowledge. You can start a casual small talk with someone at an MBF event, and what starts off as a simple conversation turns this person into exactly what you need to help your business take that one more step ahead. Talk about serendipity!
Conversations bring businesses together and each person's complementary skills can help businesses grow. MBF boosts a rich diversity of innovative products and services and the members are all contributing proudly to the growth of the Port Macquarie Hastings region.
There is an amazing range of skills and experiences MBF members bring to the table. You name it, they've got it - taxes, environment, graphics, gastronomy, counselling, history, photography, marketing, wellness.