2010 has got off to a bit of a challenging start for me and I've had to stop and do some deep thinking about my personal and business priorities.
Whilst this has been refreshing in some ways, there is a great deal of hard work and challenges ahead. At times this feels completely overwhelming and highlights one of the challenges of running your own business - isolation.
When things get tough in small business, you may feel utterly isolated, wondering what to do and how to do it. For me, having regular conversations with business and peers and mentors is a great help.
I know a number of Microsoft partners are also members of the SMBiT Professionals groups that are operating in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and these groups provide a great forum to talk amongst other business owners and key staff who face similar challenges - of both technical and business nature.
As these groups mature, they are becoming less of a geek hangout where matters technical is the focus and I believe this is where they will become more powerful and useful.
If you haven't already become a member you can find details on the SMB iT Professionals website. The membership fees are low and you'll find a vibrant community of enthusiastic group of technicians and business owners. Much work is underway to strengthen the SMB iT Professionals group and create a national industry association. Watch this space.
There are also communities like the HTG Peer Groups, Robin Robin's Technology Marketing Toolkit and those facilitated by MSP and PSA platforms like Kaseya, Connectwise and Autotask.
Getting along to vendor events like the roadshows and other events Microsoft have planned for this year is also a great opportunity network with your peers.
I'm interested to hear if you feel peer groups and networking events benefit you and your business and which ones you feel are the most valuable.
Keira McIntosh is the General Manager at Directions Technology - an Australia owned small business providing managed and reliable IT Support in Brisbane. You can also find her on Twitter and Linked In.