Industry Insights

6 members of our small business community spill beans on what they love from their memberships

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Lyzi Unwin
Content Producer
Fervent blogger sharing signature Studio Cotton advice & small business stories
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As a small business design studio, we love interacting with fellow small business owners on the daily. We decided to set up a lovely little hub of biz owners so that we can connect, share helpful stuff and just have downright lovely chats, without an algorithm getting in our way.

Like many small businesses at the moment, we are becoming increasingly frustrated with social media being anything but social. Posts aren’t gaining the reach they once did, and our insightful and helpful tidbits aren’t making their way on to our followers’ feeds.

If you think you might like to join us and a whole heap of small business owners in the Studio Cotton Clubhouse, please do. It’s really heartwarming to watch our community grow and see small business owners supporting each other.

 

The Studio Cotton team having a small business meeting and laughing a lot

 

Both because we’re nosy and because we want our community to get the most value out of their membership, we wanted to find out what peeps who have had other small business memberships before found useful. So we blimmin’ well asked.

 

1. Weekly Zoom calls for specific topics

I am part of paid advertising group, similar to this. We have scheduled weekly Zoom calls for specific topics – the Monday call is about Google, Tuesday is about Facebook, etc. You can join and just listen, or you can participate by booking a slot within the call, so the coach can look at your questions.
I think it’s great to have written chats like on Slack, but nothing beats a 10 minute focused chat on the burning question.

Polina, Good Fabric (@good_fabric_store)

Good Fabric is an online sustainable fabric shop. Just FYI, we worked on the branding, built the website, and wrote a few blog posts. We’re very proud of that work, and of Polina for being such an amazing small business owner.

A schedule of regular calls on specific topics would be a great idea, so that members can save time and tune in for exactly what they need help with.

 

2. A focussed small business Q&A session

I’d love a Q&A session such as the ones you do Thursdays on Instagram, but for this group maybe you could look at the person’s specific issue and offer pertinent advice for them.

Leonor, Eleanor Shadow (@eleanor.shadow)

Eleanor Shadow is a small indie dyeing business, selling hand-dyed yarns, spinning fibres, and knitting supplies, based in bonnie Edinburgh.

Aime runs a Q&A session about a different subject every Thursday on the Studio Cotton Instagram, and we now have an Ask Aime channel in the clubhouse too. A specific session with other small business owners being able to offer their advice too is a great suggestion.

 

3. Audits, cheerleading, and an offline library

I’ve done a few things like this and find the following super helpful:
• Zoom Q&A or training sessions – hearing answers to other people’s questions is just as helpful as your own
• High level web or social media audits & specific tips on how to improve
• A community chat to be able to pop questions in or offer advice
• Being each other’s cheerleaders, offering encouragement & feedback
• A library of offline training, checklists, top tips etc
• Getting feedback on if you’ve applied the tips/training properly or totally missed the mark

Laura Roberts, Rock + Realm (@rockandrealm)

Based in Norwich, Rock + Realm is an online lifestyle store specialising in mindfully sourced crystals, jewellery and hand-crafted home decor.

Laura is clearly a seasoned small business club member, and these points are super helpful for us to know. The nice thing about being in a small community is that you have the chance to have those one-on-one chats and ask questions.

 

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Get expert website help in our £15 community

A super simple Slack community where you can ask Aime questions, get feedback, and/or join a live session every fortnight.

 

 

4. Accountability sessions to keep on track

As a wedding photographer, I find it really hard to stay focused and I struggle with accountability (eg. someone checking that I’m on track to finishing a wedding edit) and I’ve found co-working Zoom rooms an amazing help for my focus.
We all say what we want to achieve by the end of the call, we can either have quiet and focus or can chat while we work. I find it incredibly useful for my busy brain.
As others have said, Q&A sessions are always super useful too or even better if they have a set focus to chat about with others.

Lauren McGuiness, Lauren May Photos (@laurenmayphotos)

Lauren runs her wedding photography business from the beautiful Lake District in Cumbria, but obvs travels about to snap gorgeous pics of lovely couples’ special days.

We all work a little harder when you’re accountable to someone else – it’s the main reason I work better in the office than at home. Having an accountability channel will act as a virtual person looking over your shoulder asking, “hey, have you done that thing yet?”

 

5. Social chats for small business buddies

I think one of the key things I struggle with is bouncing ideas and when I’m looking for someone to help with something, and you’ve already nailed it with channels for both of those.
I wonder if it might be nice to do a certain time of day chat, even if just a social chat, so that people can put it on their diary to come on here for X or Y.
Back when She Can, She Did was up and running, I really liked the social video calls where you played ice breakers and chatted to new people, but perhaps there could actually be a Slack version of that.

Georgia de Lotz (@georgiadelotz)

Georgia is a social media manager and brilliant Bristol based photographer specialising in styled product photography, however she has also taken pretty much every photo you see here on the Studio Cotton website as well as on the Studio Cotton Instagram.

Her website is currently under construction – we’re building a new website for her, which we’re very excited about and definitely not spending too much time animating fun things on it.

I like Georgia’s suggestion – sometimes you just want to talk about stuff that isn’t work-related, or maybe even make a new pal, and you don’t want to overshadow anyone’s important business questions. A casual channel or a call on a specific day might be nice for everyone to have a more relaxed and fun chat.

 

6. Written content and communication

I find accountability really helpful too. It’s so easy to set random goals on a group thread, but if I know that no-one’s ever going to ask about them, they probably won’t get done.
Also, perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I really like non-Zoom content.
As I’m part of several memberships, online courses, and I use it for client work, some weeks can feel like back-to-back Zoom meetings and catching up on recordings. I just end up skipping a lot of content.
The fact that this clubhouse is on Slack is one of the things that drew me to it… ♥ written communication.

Amy Collins, Rock Paper Swan (@rockpaperswan) and Ace + Wren (@aceandwren)

Amy runs her two small businesses from Kent. At Rock Paper Swan she creates colourful greetings cards and stationery, as well as taking on illustration commissions. At Ace + Wren she offers copywriting, design, virtual assistant and social media services.

Not everyone likes video content or calls – I know I prefer to have a written conversation so that I’m able to refer back to it whenever I need a refresh on that info.

 


 

Thanks to our Studio Cotton Clubhouse members for being so helpful by answering our question. Our membership is still evolving and probably always will be, but by asking questions like this we can make sure to implement all the helpful features that our members could possibly dream of.

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