When I first wrote The Small Business Bible in 2003, I didn’t mention social media even once, because social media didn’t exist back then. When I wrote the second edition in 2007, I did mention social media (one site, MySpace - !) but it was almost an afterthought as even then social media was hardly on our collective radar. So when my editor asked me last year if I had anything new to say if we did a third edition, I jumped at the chance, and we ended up with 10 new chapters in the book (just published), devoted to using Facebook, YouTube, Groupon, Apps, and the like to grow your business.
All of which really makes me wonder what Next Big Thing will be if I am fortunate enough to get to write a fourth edition in a few years.
The speed of change in business over the past generation is practically breathtaking, and for the small businessperson, that is a double-edged sword. On one hand, I think we can all agree that many of these changes have made being in business easier, better, and more fun. Working from home, tracking expenses with your iPhone, selling 24/7 over the Web – all great.
But what isn’t so great is needing to keep up with all of this technological change, and more, having to master a good part of it. So this then begs the questions:
- How do you decide what you need to know and learn?
- How can you manage your time such that you figure out what you need to know and yet still run your business?
Let me suggest that there are two ways:
First, look for some gatekeepers that you trust. That is, there are people who either keep up with the latest and greatest because it’s their job to do so, or they are what Malcolm Gladwell has called the “early adopters.” Either way, by tapping into folks who make it a point to know first what many of us need to know later, you save time and shave time off of your learning curve.
Second, there are, of course, websites that analyze the changes for you. If you trust the site, then their recommendations carry extra weight and again, save you time by learning the ins and outs for you first, and then relaying what it is you need to know.
Here are five sites/folks that I like a lot that do just that:
Small Business Trends: Anita Campbell’s site is exactly what it sounds like – a great source of trends and changes in the business world.
Small Business Technology: Our pal Ramon Ray is a technology “evangelist” and one of the country’s leading technology experts.
CNET: CNET is a great place for tech product reviews, price comparisons, software downloads and more.
Seth Godin: Godin’s blog remains required reading for anyone wanting to stay up to date with business.
Duct Tape Marketing: John Jantsch is as in the know about the latest ways to grow your business as anyone out there.