Commercial Currents: Four Ways to Find Community this Winter

Craig Olson and Claire Donnelly
Posted 2020-11-23

It seems like there is a general unease as we head into another Maine winter. The days are getting colder and shorter, COVID cases are starting to rise again. Like us, you are probably starting to worry a bit about the isolation of getting through the winter. Add to that the fact that many of the small business owners we work with are the sole employee/owner of their business. In the best times, being a small business owner can be lonely and isolating, and living in a pandemic only amplifies that.

So, to combat those winter blues preemptively this month, we have four ways to find a community—albeit virtually—this winter!

Find other business owners to connect with

A lot of Maine small business support takes the shape of ongoing workshops and other professional development series. These series can be valuable for learning new skills, but are also a great way to find a cohort of like-minded small business owners to connect with. CEI’s Women’s Business Center has some awesome programming in this vein. We recently partnered with them on their Spokeswomen workshop, an eight-week series to engage female business owners and build their speaking skills. To learn more about any of their upcoming events, check out their website here:

Find a remote mentor to connect with

If you haven’t seen it yet, SCORE just launched its Small Business Resilience Hub. It has a ton of great resources, one of which is their Mentor Matching tool. Finding a good business mentor is crucial and, according to the Small Business Administration, small business owners who receive three or more hours of mentoring report higher revenues and increased growth. It will also provide you with a sounding board, as well as someone to have regular check-ins with who is devoted to you and your business. Check out the Mentor Matching tool and learn more about all of the resources available through the Small Business Resilience Hub here:

Try LunchClub

This suggestion comes as a recommendation from Alison Thibault of WindHorse Arts on Vinalhaven (you might remember her from Episodes 3 and 12 our podcast). LunchClub is a super-connector that makes introductions for 1:1 video meetings to advance your career. You fill out a profile that includes both professional and personal interests and what time you could meet with someone. The computer then makes a connection for you, and you can go check out that person’s profile and see if you want to actually meet with them. The first conversation Alison had was with a woman in Nairobi; they had a great conversation about their shared interests in gardening and the social impact of their businesses. Try it out here:

Go to Dance Church

This one might seem a little out there, but nothing gets you out of the winter doldrums like breaking a sweat! And as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it gets harder and harder to get outside. You don’t need to be a dancer or a churchgoer to enjoy Dance Church Go, a live-streaming movement class that offers a fun and inclusive approach to dancing. Designed for people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds, and identities, Dance Church is a communal space for people who want to move their bodies. Learn more here:


About commercial currents

Commercial Currents is an email and blog newsletter created by the Island Institute’s Small Business Team that shares buoyant stories from Maine’s island and coastal communities about economic stability and resilience. To learn more and join our newsletter, subscribe here.

Through our small business services, the Island Institute provides business and financial planning to help entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of starting and growing a business. For more information on our small business support, contact Craig Olson.