By Eric Groves, Alignable

When a good local business fails, it can come as a shock. But the reality is that businesses fail silently over a long period of time. When this happens, do you find yourself thinking, “I wonder if I could have helped?”

Your community is full of other local business owners, many of whom have experienced the same struggles. Some of you have found ways to overcome them—and that’s knowledge that needs to be shared. It’s hard to find the time to meet your fellow owners let alone know who to ask for advice about issues you may be grappling with. But that isolation can mean the unnecessary death of a good business.

The reality is that other business owners are eager to help out. Debra Stark put it best when she blogged about her thoughts when a favorite store across the street closed its doors:

“So the question is, how important is a living, breathing, vibrant economic community to our physical health? I asked myself: Am I supporting my neighbors when I need something, and when I do, how does that make me feel?”

We all benefit from strong, lively local communities. By simply connecting and collaborating with other local businesses you can pool your collective knowledge and expertise to help each other succeed. And modern tools like social networks make it easier than ever to stay in touch and exchange knowledge on a daily basis.

The following questions were posted on Alignable and received over 20 responses each from other owners in the local community.

“Does anyone have experience with insurance policies and having employees use their cars to deliver products to customers…”

“The town is considering closing Main Street for the Holiday Stroll and is looking for feedback from merchants. Post your thoughts here and I will send them to the Town Manager.”

“Does anyone have any experience with how best to build an email list of customers?”

Don’t wait for the next local business—maybe yours—to fail. Connect with other owners and help each other get stronger together.

Eric Groves is the co-founder and CEO of Alignable, the free social network for local businesses and organizations to connect and collaborate with others nearby. Eric has been a local marketing expert and enthusiast since 2001, authored The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing, and believes that local businesses are always stronger together.