Online Essentials for Every Small Business

by Wayne Sharer

International speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Retired navy officer, former commanding officer. Over 35 years of leading, coaching, mentoring, and speaking.

April 1, 2013

entrepreneur essentials image

What are the essentials?

Many people try to start an online business every day in America and just about everywhere else in the world. There are 2 basic categories of online start up entrepreneurs: Category 1 are serious people who understand an online business is, in nearly every way, just like an offline business. Category 2 still think they will go online, push a button within some magic software, and get rich.

This article is for the first category, not the second. The challenges of getting started online leave you searching through all the realities of how you will actually market your ideas, information, products, and services.

Since I am assuming your mindset is that of the category 1 entrepreneur above, I know you understand Steven Covey’s principle of having the end in mind when you begin. Of course, to get to the end, you must be able to measure goals and accomplishments, have options when things fail, and have a plan to outsource tasks (which requires you to know what to outsource).

Here are some insights as laid out by Lee Oden, the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, an internet marketing consulting firm for many large companies.

Odden was asked “What advice do you have for your business owners or entrepreneurs who are out of blogging and/or social because they don’t feel they can produce enough content on a regular bsis to keep thing interesting?”

Odden says that if you or your company thinks you don’t have anything interesting to say, you’ve actually got bigger problems than just worrying about blog posts or social posting. I would agree. If you believe this about yourself or your business, then you really need to work on your mindset and perspective.

If industry or niche market has tons of ideas in their market that your primary consumer is interested in knowing about. Just wake up and look online in your market. You don’t need expensive surveys. You only need a search engine and your brain. Then outline a plan of the content topics you will focus on to start. Most can be subdivided once you complete the initial research.

As Odden suggest, your perspective when researching needs to be that of a consumer, not a business owner. You must be able to empathize with the consumer if you expect to provide anything they need.

Additionally, if you are doing any list building, you can survey your customers. You can do it for next to nothing with tools like Survey Monkey. That’s just one, there are others. It’s only mentioned to make point.

Also, all your interactions with customers online can be monitored for the purpose of understanding what your consumer wants. Monitoring tools only “spy” on content, not on people, and can reveal the question people most often use when searching. Your content can answer these questions.

Next, when Odden dove into the following, “When it comes to optimizing websites that have been neglected in terms of adding content and ongoing optimization, where should a small business even begin?”

Odden, like us at ThinkBigandGrow Media, believe it begins with you having a site audit.

Site audits are done so you can determine if any or what part of your website has any real value. When an audit is done, it will include evaluating your keywords, your web code, your content writing, your internal linking, your external linking, and your social footprint. Some of this can be done with automated tools, but no complete audit can be done with automation only. Humans need to be involved.

So there is no one answer that is right for “recovering” websites. The audit ensures you don’t waste your time, and you get off on the right track. It literally speeds up your results, and that means you profit faster.

Another common question Odden gets is “What do you recommend for a small business that has tried a particular social network out and discovered that it just wasn’t working for them? Is it better to delete the account, continue without much of a presence, or is there another alternative?”

First he says you must know what your goal or goals are. This determines your approach. An example he uses is Twitter. If, for example, Twitter is not getting results and you are spending time manually posting, then only use Twitter as a news source. That is to say, find a news source relevant to your consumers, and run that information feed through Twitter in an automated fashion.

I would agree. If you can provide some value, then don’t kill the account. Simply use it to provide the value you can. Monitor it, and change up the sources once and a whilep; always being on the lookout to see if any engagement begins.

Blogs are also social media, and Odden suggests if a blog is totally dead, but has good content, that you consider formatting it into a resource center of some kind. One without comments, yet still has useful information for your customers.

Lee Odden covers more on the topic of these essentials for small business entreprenuers. You can see his latest article here.

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