Online Presence Guidelines For A Small Business

When it comes to a small business online presence, most managers do not even know where to begin. The fear of making a mistake often forces inaction, resulting in loss of business. The best way to tackle this hurdle is to empower select employees with passion about your product. As a manager/ owner you must ensure that specific guidelines are set for these employees. This increases the success of any online campaigns while ensuring your brand is protected.

Here are some guidelines that can grow your online presence:

  • Have an approval process allowing on selected employees to represent the company online.
  • Define an online motto. Perhaps one that touches on the values of the company. For example “As a representative of zacweiner.com, you must act with honesty and integrity in all matters.”
  • Stress that some things are just not mentioned. Listing these items is often the best way to go. Strong examples are: talking about financial information, sales trends, strategies, forecasts, legal issues and future promotional activities.
  • Ensure that those posting understand that they are representing your organization. It is beneficial to remind everyone that they be respectful of all individuals, races, religions and cultures.
  • A easy guideline is : When in doubt, do not post. It is always easier to fix something not broken.
  • If writing about a current deal, offering or special that the company is featuring ensure that all information is accurate. Advertising 50% off and only having a 25% off sale is mess waiting to happen.
  • When interacting with a customer online do as you would in person.
  • Give credit where credit is due and don’t violate others’ rights. DO NOT claim authorship of something that is not yours. Do not use the copyrights, trademarks, publicity rights, or other rights of others without the necessary permissions of those who own it.
  • Do not post photographs, video or audio of other employees, suppliers, customers or agents without first obtaining their approval.
  • Be responsible to your work. In person customers are still priority number one. Obviously this guideline depends on your business makeup.
  • Understand that the Internet is permanent. Once information is published online, it is essentially part of a permanent record, even if you “remove/delete” it later or attempt to make it anonymous.

Obviously this list is not all inclusive but should serve as a good starting point for online success.

You Still Don’t Provide WIFI?

The world of technology has changed dramatically since, well, yesterday. Expansion in the world of computers is exponential.

Exponential — increasingly rapid.

What does this mean for business owners?

It has a vast array of repercussions. The one I want to focus on currently is wireless internet. There was a time when only a select few “joints” around town provided internet. Those days are long gone.

Todays consumer have certain expectations. This goes above and beyond wireless. Hopefully you are an expert in your field of business and already know what the customer demands. When it comes to the infrastructure you provide, you must provide just that – infrastructure. A solid building is no longer sufficient and other permanent amenities are require.

What are the customers expectations today? Good service, quality product and wireless internet. That has been the norm in most hotels and resorts for the last few year. It has morphed from a paid amenity to a free service that is a must.

The coffee shops were some of the first to join the club. Starbucks (and other purveyors of the coffee bean) have been providing quality internet to the public since I can remember. The businesses that have provided this wireless are still around providing it for a reason. In layman’s terms they saw what their customers wanted and acted upon it, providing them the much coveted wireless internet. We are currently seeing a shift towards providing wireless internet in all aspects of hospitality and service industries.

That is right.

Next time you are out at a lovely dinner it will not be your wife asking you to put your phone down and engage with her, but rather: “Honey what’s the wireless passcode?”

Next time you are getting your car serviced.

Next time you are getting your nails done.

Next time you are buying, well anything.

You as a customer will expect a wireless passcode.

You as a business owner best provide that service.

Wireless internet is now a first world expectation. So as a business owner you better hop on the bandwagon before it is too late.

My office (landlord, grocery store, etc.) provides guest wireless, why doesn’t yours?

What The Web Symbolizes

Years ago. Before my time. Before I was even discussed. Business functioned a different way. The barrier to entry was vast. The knowledge required was insurmountable. Today is a different day.

Let me try again. Today is a different day.

Hopefully you got it this time.

Today our generations starts billion dollar corporations overnight. That is right: corporations. Those things with boards, shareholders and free coffee! Companies that employ hundreds, if not thousands. These simple ideas have changed the way we consume content, interact with people and function on a day to day basis. Things have changed.

The game has changed.

Opportunities abound. More so than ever before. They are no longer hidden behind years of climbing the corporate ladder. Everything needed to be successful is truly right in front of you. Access to capital is literally an email away. Perhaps you lack the network or necessary email addresses? Than it is simply a crowd-funding site away.

The internet lends you access to everything you need.

The thought process to run a multi-billion dollar corporation is no longer hidden in the minds of investment bankers and consultants. That information is readily available in multiple formats from many different sources. My favorite quick, motivational read is Mark Cubans How to Win at the Sport of Business (if you have not read it — it will change your life). It literally walks you through how to be a winner. That’s right, no formal training necessary.

The world has changed. The answers are right at your finger tips. Even the great Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffet believes in the power of the Internet. Here is what he had to say about its teaching power a few years back on CNBC:

His one luxury is a time-saving private jet, “the only thing that I do that costs a lot of money.” Even though he loves the plane, he would pay even more to give up his jet but keep the Internet. “I would gladly pay half my net worth just to have that kind of information available to me. They haven’t figured out how to charge me what it’s worth. That’s one of the problems they’ve got.”
If that quote does not help you realize the tools and opportunities at your fingertips; nothing will. The Internet of things allows all your dreams to materialize. Obviously success does not appear out of thin air. Hard work and dedication are required. But hell, the world of the web gives you all the instructions on how to concentrate and focus on succeeding.

Warren also hints at another great point. The business opportunities that our before us. The web symbolizes opportunities. Just look at Uber’s valuation. You may not agree, but to go from nothing to something of that stature is quite incredible. Not sure it has been done before (well I did study business history for a semester so in fact it has not been done).

The Internet means everything to our generation. Not because we despise face to face interaction. Not because it is some passing fad. Not because we lack the skills or desires to enjoy the outdoors. We love the web because all it symbolizes. It means opportunity, knowledge, connectivity and so much more. For many it means a way of life free of answering to anyone but oneself.

The beauty of the Internet is that it means something to everyone, but to everyone — a different something.

Death of the Businessman

buesinessman

Perhaps it was the evolution of technology. Perhaps it was the fading memory of the industrial evolution and those who birthed it. The change began hundreds of years ago but ended with the onslaught of the 21st century.

The term businessman was once an aspiration to all. It was the lifeblood of our country. A term that had no bounds. Businessmen, once known as merchants, were the explorers that made the vast oceans manageable. They brought the world together to fill their coffers with gold.

This is not the first evolution of the term nor the last.

In the 20th century it meant starting at the bottom and working decades to join the upper echelons of management. It meant founding something great. It meant rising above the woes of middle management. It meant many things to many people.

My son is now an ‘entrepreneur’. That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job. — Ted Turner

Ted’s view can be seen as a bit harsh, but by failing to mention the term businessman he said it all. The times have changed and so has the perception. The youth of today aspire to be entrepreneurs, they leave the businessman description for their parents.

Does changing the name demean the meaning?

That is the ultimate question. The perception of the word businessman no longer has the same connotation. 100 years ago Richard Branson would have been termed a robber baron, a business man, a magnate of industry. Today, he is a entrepreneur.

This evolution of the businessman has only begun. The history books have closed on the term businessman. How will the historians remember the entrepreneurs? That my friends is up to us. Hopefully the least they will transcribe is employed.