Like a well-scripted novel, a good blog usually keeps you engaged and waiting for more. With everything that's on the Web today, it's impossible to filter and summarize all that's relevant to a specific business discipline. A blog also helps you establish a public dialogue where anyone can participate and learn ... Here are a few of my favorite small business blogs I've stumbled across:
Small Biz Survival
A description on the site reads: "By and for small business people in rural areas and small towns," and that's exactly what this weblog is. Regular features fall into primarily five subjects: Ideas revolving around entrepreneurial or community growth, new or particularly useful small business resources found on the Web, reviews on helpful online tools or interesting Web utilities, and point-of-view stories from small business owners sharing both their accomplishments and failures. Once a week, business owners can promote their products or services in the Brag Basket, where touting your business success is encouraged. The primary contributor, Becky McCray, is on a clear mission to revive public loyalty to small business and offers a great personal touch to the blog. Bookmark their site, as I did, and you can follow their progress.
Flyte: Web Marketing Strategies for Small Business
Flyte's notably entertaining and informative blog features tech savvy Rich Brooks tackling the kind of Web issues that budding entrepreneurs face every day. Updated three to four times a week, topics include: e-mail marketing, social media, search engine optimization, Website design and marketing, blog writing, related small business news and more. Digging in, I found posts like "How to Keep Visitors at Your Website" and "Social Media Overload." Entertain yourself and visit their About Us page where the staff cleverly placed their favorite toddler pics next to their respective bios. I'll admit that at first I thought this was a group of over-achieving preschoolers running the show. Then I went a little bit deeper. According to his own bio, Rich is not only an experienced blogger but also an avid speaker who entertains national audiences on subjects like Web design and Internet marketing. Among many other activities and involvements he also teaches a class at the University of Southern Maine called "Web Marketing for Entrepreneurs."
The Entrepreneurial Mind
Jeff Cornwall, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University, hosts a daily blog on just about everything entrepreneurial. To really find what you're looking for here I suggest scrolling down a little bit to the left hand drop-down bar labeled "Flag Sticks". Here, blog topics can be searched by subject, like Family Business, Entrepreneurial Finance, Entrepreneurial Myths, and Bootstrapping with articles like "Competing with the Big Boys on Cyber Monday" or "If I Only Had the Money" myth. A well researched and informative blog that stays current with today's trends. Special thanks to Jeff and the student body for sharing their research.
Duct Tape Marketing
Waggish name aside, Duct Tape Marketing is a small-business-centric site diving deep into marketing-related topics. Topics, ranging from "7 Tips for Successful Blogging" to "Social Networking with Training Wheels," are all hosted by small business marketing specialists. Duct Tape marketing founder, John Jantsch, brings over 20 years of marketing experience and specializes in helping small businesses create and implement effective marketing plans.
Want to find out what your big-box competitors are doing to win customers? It's easy, just spy on them. Better yet, you can count on RetailEmail.Blogspot to conduct the espionage for you. The blog showcases e-mails sent out by your retail rivals and diagrams what is done effectively or poorly. They monitor the e-mail marketing campaigns of more than 100 of the top retailers on the Web, meaning that you can stay on top of the trends without a million-dollar marketing budget. You can search by selling season, retailer, topic and more. The latest post I saw on the site was a Harry & David e-mail they had critiqued. Overall, the site functions as an excellent resource for any small business marketer trying to stay hip in the e-mail world.
Church of the Customer
Updated three to four times a week, the blog is an intellectual evaluation of how companies past and present interact and deal with their customers; decisions that small businesses can learn from. The site operators, Ben McConnell and Jackie Hubba are accomplished writers, speakers, and sought-after consultants. Contributing to the blog is a handful of other scholars and marketing gurus who put their best two cents on the table with every article. This is a successful blog that keeps you on your toes. Why the church? Because they teach you how to create "customer evangelists." You can find out how you can develop customer loyalty and how to effectively manage your customers. What's more important than that? Well, that's their point.
Small Business Brief
The Small Business Brief contains a treasure trove of links to helpful small-business-related articles found throughout the Web. It's a well-structured and easy to navigate blog, offering direction for entrepreneurs on how to successfully plan, open and run a business. In the Small Business Ideas Forum, you can find plenty of topic listings concentrating mostly on e-commerce. Here you can find out more on topics like affiliate advertising and buying and selling advertising space. If you like what you read here, Fetch it!
Small Business Trends
This all encompassing blog tracks a wide range of small business issues, utilizing news commentary, links to related articles, interviews and an occasional book review. Updated daily, the blog speaks to all types of entrepreneurs. Much of the focus here is on achieving marketing success, but you can expect to find brief articles on nearly every subject. They regularly feature articles from a cast of almost forty industry experts so you can expect many points of view here. It's up to you to disseminate.
Small Biz Mentor
How would you like to have your own small business mentor? Here you go. Most of the blogs you'll read here are quick inspirations or an occasional anecdote from a happy customer like the article I read today "The Little Pizza Café That Could - Take Away for Any Small Business." I even watched a humorous YouTube video capturing a clash between Chef Ramsey and a restaurant owner named Sabastian, which was featured on the reality TV series Kitchen Nightmares. You'll find a steady stream of business related topics here. If you want to quickly peruse the archived articles or browse by topic, you can easily search through links posted on the right hand column of the blog.
Small Business Growth Strategies
Stephanie Chandler puts together a rich mix of articles for entrepreneurs and has compiled a list of hundreds of links to sites she recommends. She is a bona-fide entrepreneur who fled Silicon Valley and her corporate cohorts to pursue the American Dream. Like many Weblogs, you can quickly lose three hours of your day, hopping from blog to blog.
The Savvy Entrepreneur
I originally stumbled on this blog through a link on Small Business Growth Strategies and it hooked me right away. This blog speaks to a particular niche of service-based small business professionals. Christine Favreau is a passionate entrepreneur who shares her tried-and-true experiences of running a small business in the service industry. You'll find a collection of her thoughts, research, challenges, opinions, tools and tricks of the trade.
Seeds of Growth: Ideas to Help Small Business Grow
This is a good place to plant a bookmark. This blog combines original articles with content filtered from their favorite blogs across the Web. I found a mix of offbeat subjects and interesting articles like "The Cannonball Business Plan" and "The Pumpkin That Sold Me a House." This blog is more of a casual read and the best you might walk away with is inspiration. Still, who doesn't want to be inspired?
So with these twelve recommended blogs and of course our own at America's Best Companies, you should never need to crack open a book or pay another consultant again. :)
If I've left out any particularly good ones, please feel free to add to the list.