June 03, 2015 09:00 ET

Manta-Bank of America Study Reveals 74 Percent of Small Businesses in Online Communities Find Success

Entrepreneurs Attribute Success to Active Involvement in Online Forums

COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwired - Jun 3, 2015) - A new study from Manta, the company exclusively dedicated to helping small businesses, and sponsored by Bank of America, one of the world's largest financial institutions, reveals the vital role online communities play in helping small businesses succeed.

The study, which polled 24,723 small business owners, found that of 30 percent of entrepreneurs currently participating in professional online forums, 74 percent of them attribute their success to active involvement in these online communities. Within online communities, small business owners openly discuss business challenges, offer advice to colleagues, and benchmark best practices.

"You get to become known as an expert. It helps build my credibility," says Bonnie Armstrong, Owner, Marketing Alliance. Small business owners trust the recommendations and advice more when it comes from peers who have relevant experience. Online forums are alive with entrepreneurs who are willing and eager to answer questions and give advice in the hopes of cultivating mutually beneficial relationships.

Staying on Top of Trends

Of those using professional online communities, 26 percent participate in five or more. The topics of discussion vary, but most are interested in marketing (37 percent) or industry-specific topics (25 percent). Other discussions about technology (16 percent), customer acquisition (10 percent), operations (4 percent), leadership/HR (4 percent) and financing (3 percent) were found to be less helpful to business owners. 

"I think this speaks volumes about the success Manta community members are experiencing," said John Swanciger, CEO of Manta. "Within Manta's peer community, small business owners are finding tremendous value in connecting and learning from one another. It takes the guesswork out of getting the answers small business owners need and provides an easy way for them to get direct advice from their peers."

Within these online communities, 25 percent of small business owners find the most value connecting with colleagues in their own industries. Forums designed to facilitate specific, topical conversations are the most active, says David Solis, Bank of America Small Business Centralized Sales National Executive. "Sometimes the best thing you can do when you're managing a community is to give people a forum to interact and share ideas. The Bank of America Small Business Community has focused on providing entrepreneurs with the knowledge and connections necessary to help them navigate the complexities of growing a small business."

While the study finds active participation isn't necessary for a small business owner to benefit from online forums (20 percent are "Lurkers"), according to some small business owners, sharing insights from experience and relevant conversations can have a significant impact (19 percent are "Very Active"). "It's important to have connections with other business owners. You never know when you will need them or when they may need you," said Andrea Rozman, Owner, Your Gal Friday.

3 Ways Small Business Owners Can Use Online Communities To Succeed

Want to increase your connections and influence online? Here are Manta's 3 top tips to get the most out of online communities:

1. Use social networking to build in-person professional contacts.

2. Network outside of your industry. What are they saying about the future and how you can apply it to your industry?

3. Join forces and unite with other businesses, and offer a communal reward program.

About the Manta 2015 Small Business Community Survey

For more on the Manta -- Bank of America Community Survey, please contact manta (at) highwirepr (dot) com.

About Manta

Manta empowers small business owners to succeed on their own terms by helping them stand out, connect with customers and grow their companies. Our solutions include a small business directory with millions of unique monthly visitors, proven tools to drive lead generation and a suite of products to manage critical business needs. We strive to inform and inspire through learning opportunities, proprietary research, and a robust online community for dialogue and collaboration. Thousands of business owners join Manta each month. Visit to learn why.

About Bank of America

Bank of America1 is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 48 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,800 retail financial centers and approximately 15,900 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 31 million active users and approximately 17 million mobile users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

1 Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of the Bank of America Corporation. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2015 Bank of America Corporation

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Margaret Farrell
    (415) 963-4174 x 8
    Manta (at) highwirepr (dot) com