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Why businesses crave community

Dissecting a buzzword to reach the heart of its meaning

· small business,community,growth,business,customer loyalty

By: Matt Palazzolo

If you read any major business publication (or even just follow the headlines,) you’ve inevitably been inundated with a variety of buzzwords and phrases that speckle the business lexicon.

Community is one of them. 

The more a term is used, the easier it is to write them off as watered down or lacking significant meaning. However, they also gained prominence for a reason, and still have their merits.

The rise of community in the mix of business jargon is difficult to pinpoint, but one can take a quick look around and identify all of the reasons for its popularity among entrepreneurs and why it should remain something to aspire to for small business owners. Here are a few reasons that the word community still has substance:

It taps into a shared sense of purpose

For some, the word community evokes an idyllic image – Main Street America in a small town, lined with thriving businesses that are supported by residents who become loyal customers and friends. Whether a corporation is trying to facilitate its own community or a small business owner has built their company to be a healthy part of their community’s ecosystem, a true community  identifies and taps into a shared goal from a large group of individuals. For the corporation, this common purpose usually ties back into their core values. For the small business owner, it stems from the desire to bring that idyllic image to life.

Shared purpose allows for accelerated problem solving

A healthy ecosystem of businesses is infinitely more powerful when organized around a shared goal. When entrepreneurs stop viewing one another as competition, and more as resources, they are able to accelerate solutions to their respective problems. At Excelerate America, we’re strong believers in the power of the collective. Given the proper infrastructure, entrepreneurs can quickly access each other as resources for problems that need solving. In instances that call for it, turning a whole group of people toward one problem allows for finding solutions at hyper-speed.

Community support offers instant gratification

When customers buy from corporations, they’re often doing so out of convenience or because of price point. Among others, an element these transactions lack is emotional connection. People that make the choice to buy from businesses that are part of their community are directly contributing to the well-being of a larger ecosystem, perhaps even the well-being of their neighbors. Beyond that, by supporting community businesses, people reap the benefits of a thriving local economy.

It creates real value for customers

A community full of like-minded individuals creates an opportunity for businesses to learn more about them. So long as they are paying attention, a small business owner can leverage an engaged customer base to garner feedback. While reviews, ratings, surveys and the like are useful sources of data, it is the human element that sets community businesses apart. Face-to-face interaction and live feedback offer the opportunity to augment and improve customer experience in real time. 

The word community paints a picture in your mind. Customers who support small businesses, who see the family who benefits from their success. Business owners who contribute to the health of their neighborhood, who give back, who support and empower each other. When people buy into the collective promise of a community, everyone reaps the benefits. 

It becomes much more than a buzzword.
 

Matt Palazzolo is the Customer Community Manager for Excelerate America, a second-stage business accelerator that helps small businesses go next-level in the digital economy. Want to chat about community? Connect with Matt at matt.palazzolo@excelerateamerica.com.

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