If you know how to blog, podcast, share photos online, and basically use social media tools, you could start a business today.
Get a pad of paper and a pen.
Go to a business.
This is where the magic happens. Ask them what they are doing to reach out and connect with customers. What are their problems? How are they communicating online? Can they update their own site? What are their goals? What is causing them the most pain right now?
The idea is to ask questions, important business questions, around what social media tools have the potential to do. If you are following Chris Brogan’s series of Social Media Starter Moves for …, then you can pick up additional business uses for these tools.
For more ideas about how to create these questions, read Communicate: Ask Better Questions.
I tested this approach myself. The target was small businesses. The product was an online workforce solution, just as mystifying as social media stuff, I promise. Asking questions turned out to be the single most effective way to help business people understand the benefits and commit to using our solution.
Questions naturally lead the conversation to the value you add by helping reach those goals. If you can help a small business person alleviate pain, they will do business with you.
Can you adapt this same model to other businesses?
This article is part of the Small Biz 100, a series of 100 practical hands-on posts for small business people and solo entrepreneurs, whether in a small town, the big city, or in between. If you have questions you’d like us to address in this series, leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a community project!
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Thank you, this is great advice! I run a web design agency and have been thinking on ways to approach small businesses. The thing is, I *know* I can help them – it’s just a matter of selling them on it.
Mike Wagner says
Love your emphasis on questions!
I often wonder why we are hesitant to ask questions.
Perhaps because we are rewarded for having answers in the workplace not questions.
And perhaps we feel asking questions means we are out of control.
Just the opposite is true.
Well conceived questions puts you in control by allowing you to guide the conversation while discovering value.
Thanks for stirring the pot!
Becky McCray says
Eric, let us know if you start using questions, and how well it works for you in reaching small business people.
Mike, those are good thoughts about the thinking and feeling behind using or not using questions. Thanks for adding them!
Linas Simonis says
“If you know how to blog”. It’s OK to blog, but I want to stress that you must not simply run a blog, but run a business blog.
The differences between these two are great.
I even wrote an entire e-book on this topic – “The New Rules of Business Blogs”. You are welcome to check it out in my blog at http://www.positioningstrategy.com. Please feel free to post it on your blog or pass the e-book to whomever you believe might benefit from reading it.