Remember the good old days of the “Website Under Construction” banners? That is actually how I used to find a lot of clients. I would use my spider to go out and look for “construction.gif” and a short time later have a small business website client ready to go. It was almost like, well – you know, fish in a barrel. Only clients aren’t fish. Clients are people and they have the same personality traits as the rest of us. Heck, you’re a client to someone.
Small business SEO is the realm of snake oil and magic bullets. It’s the place in cyberspace where digital hustlers spread their lore and captivate audiences with stats and stories from around the globe. You will find both the trustworthy provider as well as the ant-lion hustler spewing great gushers of acronyms in volume enough to spin the heads off ten penny nails.
Chances are you have thought about it, dreamed about it and even discussed the idea of starting your own business. Congratulations you still believe in the American Dream. There are currently somewhere around 25,000,000 small businesses existing as a legal entity inside the United States of America. I chose the word “existing” instead of “operating” for the simple fact that some of these small businesses never quite get off the ground. I further used the word “legal entity” because there are also thousands, if not millions, of small businesses operating “under the radar”.
Starting a small business is a big decision. Making big decisions requires planning – if you plan to succeed. True enough many, maybe even most, small business owners start out by “just jumping in there” but there are many pains which can easily be avoided just by taking a few breaths and planning.
When considering starting a small business, at least the first one, most people are quite clueless, even in this age of the Internet, about required steps, suggested steps and steps to avoid. Don’t count on this article answering all of those. However, from my 33 years as a small business person having owned and operated nearly a dozen with an array of results, there are some pointers from experience I can share with the average person to possibly make things a little better for you. These tips should apply well to almost any business and will certainly give every reader food for thought on how to start a small business.
Tip One – Passion
If you’re not passionate about what you are thinking of doing then sleep on it until you are passionate or until the idea passes. How many people have gone to a food storage container party or a make-up party on a whim only to leave with hundreds of dollars worth of product samples to go home and start their own business? As an avid yard-saler I can tell you it appears to be a very large statistic. My favorite place to buy those well known kitchen items is at yard sales from people who are selling their demonstration kit for pennies on the dollar. If you haven’t been already planning and strategizing for at least a few weeks I strongly recommend waiting until your emotions level out.
Why should you blog?
Blogging is an elective. There is no requirement for blogging just as there is no requirement to eat diet food … unless, of course, you really need to. Likewise with blogging. If you study the statistics for small businesses you will find certain types of businesses do much better as a result of blogging than others. We know, for example, that social media’s highest participatory demographic is females between the ages of 18 and 34 (report link). We also know that companies who blog have 55% higher website traffic than companies who do not blog (report link).
Every legitimate business should have an online presence. If any business has an online presence they should also employ some method of making sure that online presence is seen.
Small Business Blogging
For the small business person the concept of outbound marketing to gain inbound results really is simple: find the highest return for the least investment which pays off the quickest. What some “social media gurus” may try and sell you is that blogging and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all you need I, who depend on internet marketing clients to buy my pies, disagree in a pretty major way. While these tools certainly should be in virtually every small business marketing strategy they should never be depended on to achieve your fullest results.
Simple: enough to properly convey your message to your readers.
Truthfully that is the answer. However you’re here to read and learn so let me fill in with some words to expand on that statement/idea. There have been many articles written, many discussions held and hundreds if not thousands of sessions dedicated to the topic, “how many words should a blog article be?” We will also need to know if you are seeking this answer from a purely technical sense or from a readability sense because the answers “could” be different.
We all know our friend Laura Fitton created a great thing with oneforty but it’s not history. It was consumed into the grander blend of things and then just … disappeared. I loved oneforty. I used oneforty. I had Laura on my talk show to talk about oneforty. I recommended oneforty … okay, enough. We need a list. Thing is there are hundreds of them out there and if you do a search for “twitter tools” you’ll find them.
You bet it can be valuable to record conversations on Skype. But I bet you have search for “recording skype calls”, “skype call recorder” and even “free skype call recorder” before you found this article. According to Steve Ballmer’s CES closing keynote there were over 300 billion minutes of Skype conversations in 2011. It’s fair to say many of those were important business calls or even audio interviews which need to be archived. For my personal use interviews for either Social Media Edge Radio or RETSO Radio are a regular part of my week. Using a Skype call recording application is crucial.
Probably not. Most individuals don’t really need one but when you start hiring others to engage with the public – or just have others representing your brand – it is important to have a well understood policy on how social media is to be used. Here are just a few links to social media policies online you can use to gather information about how to write your own or to make sure the one written for you is up to snuff:
AMA (American Medical Association) - http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/meeting/professionalism-social-media.shtml
Australian Department of Justice - http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/socialmedia