According to the Small Business Administration, businesses with 500 or fewer employees account for nearly half of the GDP, and more than half of all U.S. employment.  Small businesses surround us in almost every shape and form, but it is important to understand that the challenges they face are the same, if not greater than their larger competitors.  Small businesses tend to be run by their owners, who are also working face to face with customers, who have little time left to manage and strategize for the next phase of the business as larger firms do simply by committing personnel to those facets of the business. 

Over 95% of these small businesses are also run by people who come from within the industry, often worked their way up or started off on their own with no formal business training.

Check out highway billboards, read most magazines, and you can see that an educational movement is afoot, as workers hard hit by the recession are going back to school, getting retrained, and many of them starting their own businesses.  Not everyone can afford to go back to college or get an MBA though, and not everyone is looking for that specific experience.  The real world can be very different from the classroom, and for those of us who have given our all to our business, and to our community, we should welcome them with direction to a path of business sustainability and growth. 

One such free, locally-owned, and community-based exchange is Mountaintop University, which exists somewhere between the formal learning of the classroom, and the place most business people find themselves – wondering if they are on the right path, doing the right things, and whether or not they will achieve their goals. Mountaintop University has pulled together a group of local and nationally known Industry Experts that share their knowledge with the on-line community through blogs, podcasts and webinars.  These Industry Experts (they call Gurus), give freely of their insights and business practices and encourage on-line discussions, giving tips and techniques as that of an informal mentor.

The term GURU has a deeper meaning to the Mountaintop staff.  For their business model, it stands for: Give Understanding, Receive Understanding. A community sharing insights and best practices learn from each other and therefore build solid professional relationships.

The power of mentoring throughout history, as established professionals – as artists, craftsmen or captains of industry – connected with others in order to not only share what they know, but to continue learning too.  We already feel a responsibility toward giving back to our community in meaningful ways, even in the hardest of economic times, but where is that same impulse when it comes to sharing best practices in business?

The path to clarity is not an easy one, and finding the right insight from a trusted coach, mentor, or guru shouldn’t be an additional challenge for business owners.

You can learn more about this community of knowledge by visiting: www.mountaintopuniversity.com and be part of the conversation.