Establishing a business from scratch is no mean feat, but getting it off the ground is only the beginning of your journey. Whether it's your first startup ever or just your first foray into a new industry, your knowledge and experience (or lack thereof) will determine how rough that journey is.

Fortunately, you don't have to go it alone. Entrepreneurs and the small businesses they build make up more than 99 percent of employers in the U.S., and it's a more supportive community than you may realize. You can find resources such as programs, databases, social media groups, and communities where you can you learn from and network with others who know what it's like to walk in your shoes.

A number of industry-specific resources can help you expand your company and your personal knowledge base, improving the odds of success for you and your business. Whether you want to gain more experience and a surer footing in your industry or you want your company to connect with the community on a deeper level, industry-specific resources such as these can give you a significant advantage:

1. Accelerators and incubators that unlock growth opportunities.

Accelerator and incubator programs are an important part of startup ecosystems. According to research by Brookings, there's early evidence that these programs offer major benefits to the entrepreneurs involved. A startup accelerator or incubator can help you secure the education, capital, and professional network you'll need to grow your business. It'll be comprised of established companies, suppliers, investors, and other entrepreneurs who aim to foster growth throughout their communities.

When looking for the right accelerator or incubator to apply for, look for one specific to your industry to realize the biggest benefit. For instance, if you're a fashion designer, find an incubator like the St. Louis Fashion Fund, which aims to once again create a fashion corridor in that city's historic garment district. Or if you're in tech, find an accelerator like the Y Combinator, which has a large alumni network and a global reputation in the tech world. There are numerous options out there. Find the one that's best suited for your industry.

2. Databases that connect you with relevant resources.

There may be an increasing number of startup accelerator and incubator programs that can jump-start your venture's growth, but they aren't your only avenue. There are plenty of online resources to help you get in touch with mentors or more easily find employees. Some online databases even focus on helping you connect with business partners that share your vision. To save time and improve your chances of getting the most out of these digital resources, look for an industry-specific database rather than a catch-all.

These platforms present different options according to the industry they're made for. AgThentic provides a user-friendly interface for food and agricultural tech startups to find any resource they need, either by inputting specific parameters or browsing freely through all of the database's 155 food and agtech resources. Seek out a similar database that's specific to your industry, and you'll be able to connect with potential mentors, staff, and business partners.

3. Platforms that bolster your networking capabilities.

As you take advantage of different resources, you're bound to meet and develop connections with other people throughout your industry. Cultivating this network is essential. Entrepreneur-focused social networking groups on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or WhatsApp create informal networks but the space is increasingly becoming more sophisticated. 

Even Hollywood has taken note, with young stars like Maisie Williams building and promoting collaborative networks for new talent. Find a social media group, in-person meetup, or local workshop that's specific to your industry to gain the most benefit from networking. Startup Grind, Coursera, Udemy and others provide online resources and tools to connect within specific industries. 

It takes a certain level of independence to run a company, but these days, it takes more than just ambition to make it successful. These are just three of the almost countless resources that can help you succeed faster and with more support than you may have thought possible.

Published on: Nov 2, 2018