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Connection Matters: Small Businesses on Facebook Learn From Each Other Our focus on competition can obscure the extent to which business owners form communities to connect, support and advise each other.

By Dan Levy Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Ask a small business owner what the secret is to success, and you might be surprised by their answer. Small businesses owners aren't relying on cutthroat competition or trade secrets. Instead, they're depending on other small businesses to openly share what's working.

At 21 years old, Jutta Zeisset decided to take over her family's chicken farm, located in the 2,000-person town of Weisweil, Germany. Over a decade later, the operation has grown from two to 30 employees and includes a museum, a cafe and a shop.

Despite the remote location, Jutta has a regular customer base. Reservations for brunch at her cafe are hard to come by. She credits digital channels and tools with much of this. Facebook has allowed her to attract customers and potential employees who would have otherwise been difficult -- and expensive -- to reach.

Jutta recognized the opportunity she had to inspire and teach other local business owners. She created a Facebook group, which currently boasts 450 members, and started giving seminars across Germany about how to grow rural businesses using digital media.

Her story highlights the importance that communities hold for many small business owners. These communities are sources of connection, support and advice. And while Jutta's rural location might be unique, the stories I've heard from business owners across the world are similar. Small business owners share a desire to learn from and teach other businesses.

Related: A Small-Business Guide to Facebook Advertising (Infographic)

Businesses learn from each other.

The latest results from the Future of Business survey, an ongoing collaboration between Facebook, the OECD and the World Bank, illustrate exactly what we have heard from small businesses: that they are building communities by teaching and learning from each other. In fact, 42 percent of businesses told us that learning from each other is one of the primary ways they learn how to run their business in a mobilized economy, coming second only to online searches (64 percent).

In this mobile-centric economy, business owners must learn new ways to reach and acquire customers. For time-strapped small business owners, who often act as the CEO, the customer service team, and everything in between, this isn't easy. So, we're excited to see that businesses are turning to each other to learn. We believe that the experience of starting and running a business makes these entrepreneurs uniquely positioned to teach others about what drives success.

Related: How Your Small Business Success Is Linked to Facebook's Success

Connection matters.

At Facebook, we've been thinking about connection and community since we started. To build the strongest community of business owners possible, we're doing more of exactly what those business owners have done -- turning to small business owners to learn how they build communities.

Victor Lezama started PC Landing Zone in Muskogee, Oklahoma, after 20 years in the military. He's passionate about Facebook's ability to help him reach potential customers in his town and equally as passionate about helping other businesses do the same. To help, Victor established an open-door policy. He welcomes any local business owner in and answers questions about technology, digital marketing, or simply running a business.

Business owner Omar Taha founded Start Up Muslim, a global platform connecting Muslim startups all over the world. This single Facebook group connects 16,000 people, providing mentorship and knowledge to help Muslim startups enhance their businesses.

Related: Facebook Just Gave Small Businesses a Bunch of New Tools

These connections between small businesses matter. Not only because they establish places for business owners to find advice and support, but more importantly because the things they learn from other businesses can help their own business grow. And when small businesses succeed, they create more jobs and foster local economic growth.

We'll continue to strive toward helping businesses create meaningful connections with both their customers and their communities. Because those connections matter to business owners, to their communities, and to the economy. And they matter to us.

Dan Levy

VP, Global SMB, Facebook

Dan Levy leads the Global Small Business team at Facebook. He is responsible for sales, account management and service for the millions of small businesses using Facebook to connect with their customers and grow their businesses.

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