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Power User Spotlight: Build a Strong Network

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Power User Spotlight: Build a Strong Network

By JimD
Published: August 12, 2010

It is essential for small business owners to have a network. John Beidle, a Tax Advisor from St. Louis, MO and owner of 1040 Wealth Designs, LLC, takes this to heart. In addition to Joh;s involvement with the Business.gov Community, he has also organized the Saint Louis Small Business Meetup Group. This group, like Business.gov, tries to utilize Web 2.0 technologies to give its members the proper resources that they need to be successful small business owners. In addition to meeting online, the group also has meetings each month covering a variety of topics.

Business.gov interviewed John, also known as jbeidle in the Community, for some insight into owning and running a small business.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your experience as a small business owner? How did you meet that challenge?

Marketing is the biggest challenge. Getting your name out there and getting everyone to know about what you do is difficult. I would like to say that I have conquered it, but it is a constant struggle. This is why I feel that networking is a good asset to small business owners. It is a way to get your name out there without costing you much money as well as learning who else is out there. I am fairly computer savvy and jumped right into communities, like Business.gov. This gets your name out there. I have-t started blogging yet, I am not sure how many people want to read a tax blog, but this is another way I looked into getting my name out.

Web 2.0 technologies have made it easier and inexpensive to get your name out there. I am on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. When joining a community make sure that you are contributing to them and not just joining to get your name out there. If you write good replies and contribute genuinely other small business owners will value your advice.

If you were to give one piece of advice to aspiring business owners, what would it be?

Know you market. Having mentored a few people, one thing I try to stress to them is that you need to know your market. Why is your business better? What do you have to offer? What makes your mousetrap better? I believe most new businesses fail because they do not take the time to know their market. But if your business does fail, you need to learn and continue on. I have gone through 2 or 3 reincarnations of my current, financial planning and tax planning business, but I continue to build my toolkit of being a small business owner.

It is also important to know something in your field or market, either technical or from experience. For example, a small business owner might have ideas about creating a web platform, but have no computer skills. I feel that this small business owner will not be as successful because they lack the skills to make it work. This person will be at more of a disadvantage compared to another small business owner because they have to hire talent which increases costs, or give up equity to bring in another business.

Have you had a great career mentor? What made him/her great?

No. I have had a few people in which I talked to and tried to collaborate with, but I would-t say I had one great mentor. If you rely on someone, you will ultimately have to figure it out yourself. Mentors can be a great resource to help you get started or to bounce ideas off of, but it is important to take control of your career. Do't be afraid to be a pioneer.

If I had to answer, I would say that my greatest mentor was'trial and erro'. I read a lot of books and attend webinars. It is a combination of a variety of activities I attend or research I do. I am constantly trying to make my business better and become a better small business owner.

A great book that I would recommend to any small business owner that I just read would be Leadership Through People Skills by Robert Lefton. I wish I would have read this 20 years ago when I was first starting off. It gives you a good guide on how to break people down to better understand them and ultimately better motivate and communicate with them.

You have been very active in the Community answering questions and providing suggestions. What keeps you coming back?

I feel that being a part of the Community allows you to be supportive of other small business owners. Giving other small businesses advice on what has worked or not worked for you can really help them learn from your mistakes. When I was doing research, I actually stumbled onto Business.gov a while ago and I thought this was a good outlet to offer advice to other small business owners.

I get the weekly email from Business.gov, I try to login to the community and I specifically check the Filing and Paying Taxes discussion board. I feel that taxes can get complicated especially for people that do not know much.

I use my expertise to offer general advice. Since I am an Enrolled Agent, I have to be general because I do not know that individua's financial situation. I find it easier and very important is to check other Community member' responses. I may have some additional thoughts or feel something needs to be further clarified. I do not want other Community members to be misled or misinformed about a specific tax question.

Quick Facts

Username: jbeidle

Date Registered: March 26, 2009

Total Messages Posted: 60

Total Kudos Received: 48

As of 08/12/2010

Disclaimer

Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business Gateway Program Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government. Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney

About the Author:

Jim

Comments:

As the author of book, Cracking the Networking CODE, I found this article to be RIGHT ON. Small businesses must build and maintain Priceless Business Relationships. Good stuff! Be Progress, Dean Lindsay ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.
I agree that marketing is a huge challenge, especially today with so many ways to engage. But sales is just as tough. You need to find a way to connect, really connect, with today's crazy busy prospect. People just don't have time to mess around with listening to a long, irrelevant pitch. We work daily with US Customs data that helps international trade, import-export types, succeed in selling more of their services, but just having that data isn't enough. You need to be tuned into a network. Divyesh Shah >Manifest Journals, US Trade experts ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.
John is absolutely correct! I'll take it a step further and emphasize that your marketing is more important than whatever it is you're selling. It's so much easier to develop a new product for a market than it is to find a new market to sell your current products for. Most people take this point as a secondary consideration, but it is primary and the key to generating long-term profits. By having a clear and specific understanding of your market, who your customer is and what his or her needs are, it will be so much easier to have profitable relationships where your customers multiple times.

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