Not too long ago, I wrote a post about low-cost resources that small business owners and entrepreneurs can access. I mentioned the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and universities. My article started an interesting conversation in the comment section and lots of readers had their own suggestions. These are all great resources but what if you run into an issue and need help today? Do you have a built-in support system? Do you have a go-to person that you can shoot a quick email to and ask for suggestions?
The last few weeks have been rather interesting. They’ve been filled with the usual challenges and information overload that most of us who are self-employed have to deal with. I’ve needed support, provided help and garnered an enormous amount of information along the way. Throughout it all, I’ve managed to find solutions on my own and through the support of the community of bloggers that I’m a part of. So, I’d like to share three examples of the kind of help/support that we all need.
#1 – Not Knowing Something That We Should
A couple of weeks ago Kimberly Castleberry wrote an article to alert everyone about a serious vulnerability affecting WordPress themes and plugins. She graciously provided a link to an article with instructions on how to manually detect if our sites were affected. Then this week, Kim posted a new article, TimThumb WordPress Security Issue Additional Info You Need To Know! In this article, Kim linked to a WordPress plugin that will scan your site, detect any vulnerabilities and fix them for you. (I strongly recommend that you install and run this but please – as always before updating or installing a plugin– run a backup first.) Sure enough! I installed the plugin and three vulnerabilities were detected. (If I hadn’t found this information, my site would still be at risk.)
Lesson Learned: Subscribe to blogs and follow bloggers who share valuable information.
#2 – Needing a Skill Set that We Don’t Possess
When it comes to coding, I know my way around HTML (hypertext markup language) and I’m fairly comfortable with CSS (cascading style sheets) but when it comes to coding PHP (a server-side scripting language), I still have a lot to learn. I often find myself Googling for help or posting questions on the message forums where the PHP gurus hang out. So this week, when I encountered a very specific need to add code to my Thesis theme, I reached out for help on a forum that I’m a member of and I was directed to Hesham Zebida of Famous Bloggers fame. Hesham quickly (and graciously) solved my problem.
Lesson Learned: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. (I probably saved myself hours of work by asking an expert for help.)
# 3 – Being Part of a Community of People with Complimentary Skill Sets
I’m a huge advocate of being part of the blogging community and forming mutually beneficial relationships with people who possess skills that are complimentary to mine. If you’re a regular reader, I’m sure you’ll recognize the contributions of some bloggers who regularly participate here. When you read their comments, you can see that each one of them has their own area of expertise. I can count on them to add value to my blog.
One of these people is Dennis Salvatier from Salvatier Studios. Dennis is a graphic designer and illustrator who I respect and recommend. He can often be found leaving comments with words of wisdom about using design as part of your overall marketing strategy. I don’t know if anyone has noticed but my banner graphic recently got a much needed makeover thanks to Dennis. (I used to spell out my domain name across the top of the screen. Now my “KeepUpWeb” ID that I’ve been branding virtually jumps off the screen.)
Lesson Learned: Sometimes, it’s a good idea to have a professional opinion.
I could go on and on with my list of people who I interact with, follow and exchange information with. I also have bookmarked many sites that provide a wealth of information on topics that are important to me and may be of interest to people who read my blog. What do you think? Where do you go to for answers and support?