It can be a lonely journey being a business owner. Even with family, friends and staff around to support you, there are unique challenges we face as independent retailers and sometimes all you need is to connect with people who can relate.
We've put together a list of communities, hubs, YouTube channels and online forums filled with experts and peers who can help and support you along the way.
The Boutique Hub
The Boutique Hub is the world’s largest boutique industry community, connecting boutique retailers, eCommerce retailers, wholesale brands, product makers, and industry services and experts. The Hub provides daily connection, strategy, training, wholesale shopping, live events, and a voice for the boutique industry.
The Boutique Hub has a paid community offering. As a member, you'll find over 7,500 peers to connect with. You'll access hundreds of trainings for all levels of business, daily content calendars, social media engagement libraries, and guest experts with live trainings weekly.
But if you're not looking to pay, there is a wealth of free content on their website too. Plus, you can follow The Boutique Hub on YouTube for regular updates and tips.
MeetUp groups are a great way to connect with other retailers and business owners. Use MeetUp to search for events and communities in your area, and join the groups that resonate with you! Some are structured — sponsored by retail service providers — others are more casual get-togethers with peers.
Whatever kind of group you're looking for, especially if you're based near a large city, you're bound to find it here.
If you're looking for training and 1-1 support, look no further than Cathy Donovan Wagner at RETAILMavens. As a former retailer, Cathy knows how much running a business can have you losing sleep... That's why her business focus is more profit, better sleep.
While this is a more traditional consultation approach, RETAILMavens also has a YouTube channel and Facebook community for those more interested in learning from afar, or connecting with likeminded business owners.
Start A Boutique
Are you a woman looking to start or scale your retail business? Raquel at Start A Boutique is dedicated to helping other women become successful boutique entrepreneurs.
After working at a 9-5 that she wasn't passionate about, she started her first online boutique in 2006 (at the age of 23!) which quickly expanded into a brick + mortar location 6 months later and another location a year after that.
Starting a new business is no small feat, and she's been through A LOT of trial and error (and money!) to get it right. So for the past 8 years, she has consolidated all her learnings and set up Start A Boutique to help others create their own thriving boutique business.
While not retail-specific, r/smallbusiness is a great place to go if you are looking for advice or guidance from other business owners. From employee Christmas gift ideas to lawsuits, other Redditors can share their experience or ideas with you and offer support.
Reddit is anonymous (unless you choose to share identifying details of your business) so it's a great place to ask anything or just have a vent.
How To Run A Retail Store
Sara Stonecipher of How To Run A Retail Store has spent 20+ years growing, learning, failing, succeeding, and refining her retail skills. Now, she's on a mission to help other business owners work through all the challenges and delights of growing a business.
With all her changes over the years, her retail company has doubled in size and is making over a million dollars a year in revenue. She's focused on being an active participant in her local community, creating an immersive shopping experience for the people who live in her city.
You can check out Sara's workshop and courses on her website, or follow her channel on Youtube.
The Small Retailer Network
The Small Retailer Network in Dubai is a free membership community that host coffee catch-ups, events and workshops for independent retailers. Whether you are an established retailer or just starting your business journey, their community is there to support and encourage you to succeed.
WhizBang! Retail is all about practical, tactical, money-making ideas and customer-focused strategies.
On their Youtube channel, retail experts Bob and Susan Negen offer weekly retail tips, world-class online training, business-building events, and transformational programs that help retailers create the wildly successful stores of their dreams.
Looking for more of an event or conference? Retail Minded has you covered with the Independent Retailer Conference. Attendees can expect to learn from industry leaders, retail decision makers, technology providers and more. Talks cover the latest must-know insights to help retailers, marketplace sellers, e-commerce operators and other industry professionals thrive.
Beyond the conference, Retail Minded introduces retailers to leading industry resources, merchant specific news and timely education to help independent businesses – both online and offline – thrive in their unique retail goals.
Retail Customer Experience
Retail Customer Experience's on-demand, evergreen webinars cover a wide range of topics, from increasing holiday conversion rates to leveraging AI. Some are more relevant to larger retailers, but much of the content is suitable for any retailer.
It's also worthwhile checking out their events around the US, especially if you're interested in technology and innovation in the retail and hospitality sector.
Other communities and forums:
Have I missed one?
Are you part of any communities, forums or networking groups that I've missed? Let me know at email@example.com.
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