This week I sat in a room of men and women attending a free Business Seminar hosted by a local business group and sponsored by Congressman Leonard Boswell. The focus of the event was staying in or creating a new business. The panel members each made an opening statement about their respective areas of expertise and later the attendees were allowed to ask questions. In all, it was a nice attempt at helping individuals learn more about what goes into the creation of a small or mid-size business. My critique isn't aimed at any sponsor, person or group. I think you'll get it as you read on.
The first speaker introduced herself and told about her business that she has owned for 25 years. Then she dropped this bomb: "My biggest source of competition and frustration is the Internet." I perked right up... "When you search for my business we come up on the third page and people don't go that far down looking for me." (She is right.) "And, because I don't have control over my Internet site (It's a page hosted by a national company.) I can't change things and add my own flair. I'm wanting to change it...."
The next person who spoke talked about "professionals" that every business should consult with. "You need an attorney to help you set up the company. You'll need an accountant to help you with the books or at least understand how to better run the software. And you also need...." (I thought to myself...here it comes. She is going to say you need to visit with an advertising and marketing professional. Somebody to help these fresh faces 'get found'...see above.)
But it never came.
Fifty minutes later after hearing about the SBA, USDA, SCORE, and other letters....a young woman in the audience said, "I can help you get your business found!"
All eyes went to her. "Have you heard of Twitter, Facebook or YouTube?" (Social media that we embrace and have our clients use..)
"And, for your Internet. Why you can throw up a free site by using a template it doesn't cost a thing. Why, you can do it all yourself."
Except mine. I just shook my head wishing the pain would go away.
Sure, you can do it yourself and depending on what you are selling...it might work. Might. But is that what you want? Do it yourself attorney, do it yourself accounting, do it yourself market research, do it yourself advertising...really?
In the end I did not approach the business person struggling to get found. I didn't visit with the lady who loves professionals, well...the important ones. I left because...I'm not sure they would have understood.
My rates were already out of line...because I'm not free.