Small Business/ Nonprofit Leaders Value Peers in Changing Times

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Nonprofit leaders and entrepreneurs turn to networking and professional development, in good times and bad, according to a survey conducted by Ventureneer. If change is happening, leaders want new ideas and experienced support, to weather the storm or to grow their enterprise.

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They recognize that practical knowledge - the kind you get from solving problems yourself - is useful, whether it's experience with a particular vendor or experience surviving a business downturn.

Owners of small businesses and leaders of nonprofits have much in common, most notably that in good times and bad, they recognize the value of three things: interaction with their peers, professional advice and professional development.

These are just some of the findings in a new survey, ''The Use and Value of Resources by Small Business Owners and Nonprofit Leaders.'' The survey, conducted by, provides quantitative data to support what people intuitively knew: When leaders need help or when they want to grow their enterprises, they turn to peers for ideas, referrals, partnerships, and advice. In short, they want to learn more and their teachers-of-choice are those who have faced the same challenges they are facing.

They also recognize the need for professional support, such as accountants, and lawyers, to ensure that projects promote their interests, are legally compliant, minimize tax exposure.

"It is clear from the survey that leaders value the experience of others," said Geri Stengel, president of Ventureneer. "They recognize that practical knowledge - the kind you get from solving problems yourself - is useful, whether it's experience with a particular vendor or experience surviving a business downturn."

The survey reveals not only that change prompts leaders to reach outside their own organizations for knowledge but also that:

  • Leaders in both sectors prefer seminars and workshops to college classes.
  • Online networking and learning are increasingly popular resources for both small business owners and nonprofit leaders.
  • As enterprises grow, their leaders go farther afield - using national and international resources - to find the support and growth opportunities they need.

In-depth analyses of specific aspects of the survey can be found at Vistas, Ventureneer's blog:

About the Survey

This online survey was conducted among small business owners and nonprofit executives from July 7, 2009, to August 14, 2009. To ensure a large and representative sample, the survey was distributed to Ventureneer's contacts and those of our partners. To reach small business owners, we teamed up with Jumpstart Social Media and Network of Integrity. For nonprofits, we partnered with Fiscal Management Associates, Nonprofit Solutions Network and Social Returns. Friends also helped spread the word about the survey. These included e-giving, Mi Kitchen Es Su Kitchen, Nonprofit Finance Fund, Red Rooster Group, SBTV, Support Center for Nonprofit Management, The New York Enterprise Report and Your Best Interest LLC. Ventureneer also used Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and JustMeans to solicit participants. This broad outreach resulted in 452 respondents.

About Geri Stengel

Geri is founder of Ventureneer, an online education and peer support service. An adjunct professor at The New School, she honed her online experience at companies like Dow Jones and Physicians' Online. Geri co-founded the Women's Leadership exchange and is president of Stengel Solutions, a consulting service for social-impact organizations.

About Ventureneer is a new approach to learning: a blend of traditional, formal instruction with informal, peer learning using Web 2.0 technology to capture and share knowledge. Ventureneer's customized blogs, virtual classes, peer-to-peer learning, coaching, web events and articles help entrepreneurs make faster, better decisions for their enterprises.


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Geri Stengel
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