So you started your business. Now how do you grow it, especially during this recession? By getting good advice and keeping up with trends and events that affect your industry, your business can do more than just survive — it can get bigger and bigger.
To help you do that, today we take a look at some of our regular reading: Blogs focusing on small business ownership and how to grow your business in tough economic times. Some of them focus on specific business aspects, like customer service and sales, while others offer articles on a wide range of topics. Many of them feature bloggers who are current or past small business owners and who’ve been in your shoes.
- Customer Service Experience. After being a victim of poor customer service at a big department store, Glenn Ross decided to write a blog focused solely on customer service, and how businesses can improve theirs. Recent posts feature his three-step plan for Twitter business accounts, and why stories sell more products than facts do (his own story involved opals and Australian aborigines).
- Duct Tape Marketing. Need to market your company but find yourself working with a shoestring budget? John Jantsch has plenty of good advice for you on his blog, highlighting on-the-cheap marketing methods for small businesses working on the cheap. Obviously, a lot of his posts focus on social media these days, and Jantsch offers his opinions about why you need to master email marketing before you move on to social media, and why the new Google+ tool may not be for you.
- The Restaurant Blog. Many small businesses are restaurants, cafe, bakeries, and other food-service shops. John Foley, who spent a decade in the restaurant business, gives his take on the industry at AllBusiness.com, writing about whether it’s worth offering a prix-fixe menu and tips for winning a restaurant health inspection. Even if you don’t offer sit-down meals, any food-focused business can pick up good tips from Foley’s posts.
- Score More Sales. Sales coach Lori Richardson (no relation) knows how to close a deal, and she wants to help you do the same. Her blog focuses on nothing but scoring more sales, hence the title, and her chatty posts are good takes on why having a sales contest with oneself is a good way to motivate small business owners, and how to score sales during the dog days of summer. Speaking of summer, Richardson recently posted a summer reading list that lets you hit the beach and still focus on generating more sales.
- Small Business Labs. Keep tabs on what trends will be affecting you with this blog, offering straight news and commentaries about current and future events related to all things small business. Steve King and Carolyn Ockels run Emergent Research and write frequently about the studies they’re doing on small business, such as their upcoming one on the rise of the self-employed in the U.S. They also give their spin on media articles about small business topics, like this recent post about whether the economy is finally showing a silver lining for small businesses.
- Smallbiztechnology.com. With new software, apps, and other tech gadgets coming out almost daily, it’s tough to keep track of what you should use inside your office, and what to use for your marketing strategy. Ramon Ray, who runs the annual Small Business Summit, created a news-oriented blog to help small business owners wade through the hype and figure out which tech tools work best for them. Read as Ray and his reporters pick the must-have app of the week, and give advice on how Google+ works best for businesses.
- You’re The Boss. The New York Times offers daily posts from its business reporters and current small business owners about all aspects of running a small business. Our favorite sections include “Staying Alive,” Paul Downs’ tales of struggling to keep his cabinet-making business going in tough times, and “Sustainable Profits,” about eco-friendly CEO Tom Szaky’s efforts to make money by eliminating waste.