When we started the #sbbuzz chat 2 years ago today, our primary goal was to connect with other tech savvy small business owners and work together to tackle the myriad challenges that the onset of social media, cloud computing, mobile technology and virtual collaboration present to small businesses. We never anticipated that this effort would result in such amazing conversations, so many new friends and business opportunities, and even a few new employees. We count this project as a HUGE success.
Though we recently discontinued the regularly scheduled #sbbuzz chats, we continue to work with the wonderful #sbbuzz community members on myriad different projects, collaborations and even businesses. And we continue to explore opportunities to take this conversation in a new direction. Staying true to our original intent, we are not here to tinker with the latest social media gadget, or self-promote our products and businesses, but rather continue looking for ways to create useful and meaningful interactions for entrepreneurs, like ourselves, with very little time and very many questions.
To commemorate the anniversary, we will be hosting our first #sbbuzz chat of 2011 this Tuesday, February 8th from 8:00 – 10:00 PM EST. Please join us for a fun look at where we as a small business community have come and where we are going.
And to celebrate the successes we have had thus far, I thought I would share with you some comments from participants of the #sbbuzz chats about their experiences with #sbbuzz and what it has meant to them. I was overwhelmed by the responses and thrilled to hear about the many opportunities that the #sbbuzz program brought to so many of the participants. I am including a few of the stories below.
Neal Rohrbach (@nrohrbach) was one of the first #sbbuzz participants and a fixture at the chat each week. I had the great pleasure to follow Neal through his and fellow #sbbuzz participant Brad Shimp (@bradfordshimp) build a new business largely through their own Twitter community. Neal is now the host of his own Outdoor Channel TV show, and talks a little about the part #sbbuzz played in his journey.
First and foremost, I want to thank the entire crew that put together #sbbuzz and kept it going for nearly two years. It certainly played a crucial role in changing my career path and helped me to find my niche and passions in the business world. To call #sbbuzz anything other than phenomenal would be a gross understatement. Through the weekly chats that I was able to be a part of early on, I met and made several friends, and even a business partner. Idea Anglers was founded because of #sbbuzz, which merited coverage on Businessweek’s website and landed me on center stage in Hollywood at the Kodak Theater for the first Los Angeles 140 Characters Conference. Unfortunately, Brad Shimp and I grew so quickly in our professional careers, that we didn’t have the time to continue moving Idea Anglers forward. This was much due to the networking, technology and practices learned through #sbbuzz. When I first started participating in #sbbuzz, I was working two jobs and running a home based marketing and graphics business. The practices, technology and people I met through #sbbuzz soon led to my home based business growing to the point that I could quit one of my part time jobs. The next thing I knew, I had offers on the table for my side business to be purchased by two of my competitors who worked on their businesses full time. Now that’s saying something. #sbbuzz quickly made me into a household name, especially in my community, as I started traveling to conferences and tweetups, sharing my marketing and entrepreneurship models, as well as the Idea Anglers story. The next thing I knew, I was hired by Outdoor Channel Outfitters and quickly moved up the chain from Art Director to Chief Creative Officer and now sit as the President of Marketing and Sales and will be hosting the Outdoor Channel Outfitters television show for 2011. I’d like to think that’s a pretty good testament to how the #sbbuzz chat helped me. As far as my business, well, taking what I learned from #sbbuzz, it went from a part time, home based business to a full time job, just before selling it with residual income. I can see small business collaboration continuing to grow in the social media realm, and soon be an integral part of each and every business model.
Scott Blitstein (@scoblitz) is another lifer at #sbbuzz. Scott is a writer for Web Worker Daily, a small business owner and now part of our own BatchBlue team. He is also the man with all the answers to your small business questions.
#sbbuzz was integral for me in turning Twitter in to the collaborative community experience that it should be. Having the opportunity to meet and chat with wonderful and smart people was inspiring. I found that just participating gave me the chance to share my knowledge and be a resource to folks, all the while being able to learn from them as well.
I also think it did wonders to strengthen my relationship with the participants, including the BatchBlue team. Frequent interactions with you and Michelle gave me the opportunity to let you get to know more about me and I believe was an integral part of my joining the team there.
Participating in #sbbuzz was a very useful way to promote my business and while I have made the decision to discontinue eSeMBe, it’s only because other opportunities arose which were more appealing – the chance to work with the wonderful folks at BatchBlue.
Gina Blitstein (@ginabee) joined in the chats later in our history after hearing so much about our empowering ways from her husband, Scott. I’ll let her explain the role #sbbuzz played in helping her establish her own entrepreneurial ways.
The #sbbuzz helped me to more easily adopt the role as a web-using business owner. While my business lives on and off the Internet, there is no denying that it wouldn’t exist without it. I am not a techie (though I do live with one) and yet I was welcomed with open keyboards by the existing members of the group, which was incredibly empowering in the first few months of my content creation business.
From the networking exposure within the #sbbuzz community, I got an outstanding client with whom I have an ongoing business relationship. I don’t believe we’d ever have come across one another if not for #sbbuzz. My business is growing steadily – as is my confidence – and that is due in no small part to what I learned and who I met on our Tuesday night dates.
I learned a tremendous amount from the expertise of the group and I was happy to be able to provide some insight myself once in a while. The act of reaching out beyond my computer to have contact with such smart and savvy folks was inspirational as well as educational.
Desiree Scales (@desireescales) was an early leader in the crowd with her quick wit and shining personality. She and the other regulars really helped us set the non-promotional, frank and open tone that helped the chats them become so successful. Desiree also introduced me to podcasting when she interviewed me for her Bella Buzz podcast early on. Desiree also introduced us to our wonderful virtual assistant, Dawn Skowronnek (@charmedbydawn)
The #sbbuzz introduced me to many people I still call friends after 2 years. I will continue to follow their careers and businesses as they will my own. Twitter Chat is a great idea and will continue to catch on eventually or evolve into something else. I think the #sbbuzz showed us all how hungry entrepreneurs are to connect with one another. I hope something will eventually take it’s place. It was a great way to learn about people who are in the same shoes with the same ideas and issues every week. I’ll miss it!
And very long-time contributor and enthusiast Susan Barr (@selahsynergy). I had the pleasure of speaking with Susan when she interviewed me for her (coming soon) book. And I will always value the parenting advice she gave as one mother of an asthmatic child to another.
Although I have not been online much in the past few months, #sbbuzz is one of the first places I wanted to re-join as my personal life has finally settled down. For me, #sbbuzz was the anchor in my Twitter interactions, the first and most meaningful community to which I belonged on Twitter. For the past 2 years, I have been working on a book for small business owners about leveraging the internet to grow and manage their businesses. I met and interviewed several #sbbuzz members including yourself, whose contributions have been essential to the book. The generosity of every member of #sbbuzz, whether in giving of time, expertise, support, encouragement, referrals, or friendship has been a tremendous resource – I know #sbbuzz will live on as these relationships remain important to my life and business. I thank you for initiating such a tremendous community.
We are extremely grateful for these extraordinary members of the #sbbuzz community, as well as every one of the participants and followers of the #sbbuzz chat. We look forward to working with the forward thinking entrepreneurs who have joined this group to continue to find ways to grow and evolve ourselves and our businesses.
Starting your own business is a wonderful, overwhelming journey that should be shared and explored with other adventurous souls. We would not have it any other way.