Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Staying afloat through storm of recession

How an organisation’s website helped make its business click

People who read Smallbusinesscan articles and contributions will know that, in our view, no company will be able to do without some form of e-commerce — and social media is an extension of that.

If you are in any doubt, watch the video that was recently posted in the Smallbusinesscan social media group http://alturl.com/fboc — it’s not a vision of the future, it is ‘now’; backed up by empirical evidence.

There has been, there is, and there will be a fundamental shift in media behaviour — if you’re not ready for it, you’d better get started.

If more proof is needed, and you’re looking for a holiday book-list, read Free by Chris Anderson or Generation Einstein by Jeroen Boschma and Inez Groen, What Would Google Do by Jarvis, We Are Smarter Than Me by Libert and Spector, Here Comes Everybody by Shirkey, or Viral Loop by Penenberg.

Yep, it’s a long list, and it could go on and on, with top business and thought leaders falling over themselves to point out: ignore the digital revolution at your peril.

As it is a year since we launched www.smallbusinesscan.com , let’s use that as an illustration of how quickly technology is developing and what we have learned.

The Smallbusinesscan website is an excellent example of the speed of technological development. Looking at it now, the original site was a complete ‘dog’ compared to where we are now, 12 months later. It’s hard to believe that in idea and scope the original site was fairly progressive for its time.

The current version has changed beyond recognition. It’s now, in effect, a Facebook for businesses, with forums, user-generated blogs, a community area where businesses can profile themselves and connect with other business people, and groups being set up by members.

And while we have an ambitious road map, we have to be truthful and admit that we don’t know how it will look in another 12 months’ time. We only know it will be different, better, and using technology that may not have been invented yet.

Despite our best attempts, we seem to be doing something right. The metrics are amazing — we are the fastest growing business website on the island (not the planet, yet!); we are getting copied (the best form of flattery); we are being asked to speak at conventions around the world (somebody has to do it). It seems that we’re now being included in the online marketing strategy of many corporates that want to get to the SME market.

In fact, we now have thousands of ordinary businesspeople who are helping each other identify — and perhaps most importantly encouraging each other to implement — small continuous improvements in their businesses.

Can you imagine if every business could generate continuous, relentless and sustainable improvements — it would fundamentally change the economic outlook. But that’s for another article.

If we can do it, anyone can?

We were complete social media and website illiterates a few years ago. Now we are responsible for one of the biggest and probably most unique business portals.

If we can build an online engagement platform, ANYONE CAN. If you have a vision for your business, try to imagine what your website and e-commerce could be, and should be, to |support that vision. Not understanding technology is no longer an excuse. You dream it, and it can be built. If it is not by you, it will be somebody else, possibly a competitor. Either way, the impact on your business will be significant.

While this article is about social media, Smallbusinesscan is about business. The more we help each other with insights, experiences, contacts, the better chance we all have of making it. So, if you have a business challenge, you'll find help on the site.

If you're looking for more ways to promote your business or if you have business experiences that may benefit others, you have a ready audience on Smallbusinesscan. The return could be great for you and for other businesses determined to grow.

Ron Immink is founder of www.smallbusinesscan.com

Smallbusinesscan is a portal site for discussions, articles and advice on all kinds of financial, legal, HR and tech issues that face start-ups and other small companies.

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