SCORE Small Business Blog

What CAN Your Business Do Online?
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This post is part of the “What your business SHOULD be doing online” series.
To get the whole picture, you may want to click that link and start at the beginning.

As I stated in my post, “Choosing How to Market Online Needs to Start with You”: “Nothing is marketed online more than marketing online.  From methodologies and approaches to tools and software, there are thousands of offerings ready and willing to help guide you through your journey online.”

Learning about what you CAN do online is the first step in making effective use of the web for your business.

Why? Because:

1. You Need to Be Able to Plan Effectively

Whether your business is online or off, knowing what can be done online allows you to plan and brainstorm across the full spectrum of opportunity.  If you focus only on either online or offline approaches for managing and marketing your business, you are missing a huge piece of the puzzle that can lead to success.

Bottom-line: success in business is often achieved by making the most of the methods and tools available to market and manage your products and services.  If you do not learn what the web offers, and how to make the best use of it all, you are crippling your chances of reaching your goals.

2. Ownership

Most businesses retain or hire an accountant to manage their finances, a lawyer to handle legal matters and other experts when needed.  This is a perfectly good approach, and one that works well for your online efforts as well. For example, you can retain someone to build your website or to manage your social media marketing campaigns.

However, as a business owner, you still own all of these parts of your business. It’s your responsibility to keep tabs on the activities of each person you retain. You need to know the questions to ask and the warning signs for which to look.

Bottom-line: If you do not have the basic knowledge of what is being done on your behalf, you run some big risks.

  1. At one end, you may spend a lot of time getting results that don’t connect to your bottom line (as we saw happen to Company A in the post, “The ‘What Your Business SHOULD Be Doing Online’ Formula”.
  2. At the other end, you could be robbed blind and wind-up losing everything for which you worked so hard.

NOTE: Expertise is Not Required

One important clarification:  You do need to learn about what can be done online, but you do not need to become an expert in any of it.

You have a business to run and that keeps you busy enough already. The last thing you need to do is add more to your plate.  As mentioned above, use your knowledge of what’s online to come up with ideas and plans and then retain or hire someone to implement them on your behalf.  This frees you up to spend time finding new customers and delighting the ones you already have.  Don’t get me wrong – you can do any and all of the tasks to run your business, including managing and marketing online. Just be sure you’re spending your time wisely.

How To Learn What You CAN Do Online

Learning about, and staying on top of, what you can do online, and how to do it effectively, does take some time and effort, but the payoff is expanded opportunity and less business risk – both worthwhile results.

Below are some of the top resources I use to stay abreast of online opportunities, approaches, tools and ideas:

  1. BizSugar
  2. Alltop – the latest posts gathered for you from blogs across the web. This link takes you to their “Small Business” topic, but you can find many more topics by using their “Search” box in the top right of their site.
  3. OPEN Forum
  4. Entrepreneur
  5. Bloggertone
  6. pbSmart Essentials (disclosure: I am a contributor to this site)
  7. MakeUseOf – this link leads to their “Cool Web Apps” which lists daily posts that tell you about great online tools, many of which are good for businesses.
  8.  E-Business Now online workshops and guide from SCORE, a partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

Check out each of these sites, select the ones you like and then set aside some time (weekly, monthly, quarterly – whatever feels right) to spend time reading and learning.

More to Come

Next, I’ll continue the “What your business SHOULD be doing online” series with a post on figuring out what your business NEEDs to do.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments.

Matt MansfieldPresident, MattAboutBusiness.com
Matt helps entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies figure out what their business SHOULD be doing online. Since 1993, his career has included product and project management, marketing and PR, software design and development, entrepreneurship and startup experience, public speaking and training for both groups and individuals.
www.mattaboutbusiness.com | Facebook | @MattSMansfield | More from Matt

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