Is there a website like Metafilter for Business Owners?
October 25, 2011 4:28 PM   Subscribe

While you can find forums for just about anything, there seems to be this void for an active small business owners forum. Specifically small businesses with less than 50 employees. Whatever I've found so far is low/no traffic or packed with spam. In a perfect world.... I know it would be asking a lot to discover a site like Metafilter, but is there anything out there that comes close?
posted by jamesalbert to Work & Money (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
What do you wish to talk about at said site? Just post random questions and have them answered by people who are a small business owner like you?
posted by dgeiser13 at 4:53 PM on October 25, 2011

It is more articles and less community than you might be looking for but I like American Express OPEN Forum. A minority of the articles are over-promotional, but there is a lot of good content in there.

I think much of what you seek will depend on your industry, type of business, and maybe even location.

The reason why this sort of thing does not exist are numerous:
-Business owners are busy
-Companies of this size can be very protective over what they perceive to be advantages and secrets
-The super small or inexperienced companies can fall prey to the exact kinds of spam service offers you mentioned
-There is money to be made in some of the answers you seek (some small business make money on providing these answers, in fact)

Resources exist, but they are varied and widespread. I wish you the best of luck!
posted by milqman at 4:58 PM on October 25, 2011

Depending on the type of business, industry, and topic of your curiosities, Quora might be a reasonable option... Though, I think in general, those things are going to matter a lot...
posted by milqman at 5:18 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you on LinkedIn? (You probably should be as a small business owner, anyway). There are a number of professional groups on there (e.g.) that might at least in part meet your needs.
posted by dhartung at 5:22 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

first5000 is a good forum in Australia for small businesses which might be worth a read.
posted by joannemullen at 6:40 PM on October 25, 2011

Response by poster: Basically what I'm looking for is a place to rant, a place to seek solace, compare notes on various areas of business, to mentor and be mentored. The kind of the stuff that you would go to SCORE for but in a Metafilter type format of a fast paced Q&A with a variety of people chiming in with their experiences and advise.

I'm in manufacturing ("Made in USA" WooHoo!) so that narrows things a bit. Someone in retail or service industries would have some similar issues to contend with but manufacturing is an animal unto itself.

Yes we are insanely busy, intimately involved and ultimately responsible for everything that goes on under our roofs. Over the years, I’ll confess, I’ve made some missteps but my hyper sense of self-preservation has kept me from doing anything fatal. I’m just annoyed/exhausted at being on my own, relying on my wits and limited resources to avoid becoming yet another bug on the windshield of life. (and yes, I need a vacation, nay, sabbatical...)

Over my, now 30+, years of doing this I’ve worked with consultants, SCORE, business roundtables hosted by a local university, even the local (rather large) Chamber, and while all have their place, they’ve left me wanting.

You have a specific task? Sure, a consultant. A specific question? Sure, SCORE. A seminar on a specific topic? Contact the Chamber or your local university.

Online forums (Metafilter especially) has spoiled me. While I too am protective of our intellectual property, there is a lot that can be discussed without going into too much detail. As I would rather do it anonymously, I’ve shied away from LinkedIn. Perhaps I’ll take a closer look at LinkedIn again to see if it’s viable to use a nom de plume. (I suspect not)
posted by jamesalbert at 6:54 PM on October 25, 2011

I can't believe I am saying this here, but is there a Reddit community that would fit?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:06 AM on October 26, 2011

I don't know how busy it is, but there's OnStartups. Mefi probably is spoiling you. It's a rare combination of educated people paid to fuck around on the internet all day. And I guess some prolific unemployed Mefites. And reinforced by some clever rationing of questions that force you to embellish every word for fear of "wasting a question", which in turn raises the bar for every other question until most everyone does a good job for fear of looking bad.
posted by pwnguin at 9:06 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Here's what I have so far (thank you)...

For community, it looks like these are the closest...
- OnStartups
- Quora

Sites nice for articles but relatively short on community...
- AMEX Open
- Inc Magazine
- Fast Company

I did not see anything regarding business on Reddit besides This.

I must admit I'm very disappointed in Inc Magazine. They used to have forums awhile back, but not a whole lot of valid traffic. Probably due to a lack of moderators and the boatloads of spam and self-promotion.

You'd think WSJ or Forbes would jump on this too.
posted by jamesalbert at 3:59 PM on October 27, 2011

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