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As a Sole Proprietor or Entrepreneur Where Do You Turn for Support? – Keep Up With The Web – Sherryl Perry

As a Sole Proprietor or Entrepreneur Where Do You Turn for Support?

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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?

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Published by Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

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  1. I usually browse some forums and see if anyone is bored and willing to help with my problem. When this doesn’t work i bug some webmasters with mails. I read a lot of blogs and i have a fine list. One of these steps always does it for me, but i still try to learn more because doing it by myself speeds up the process.

  2. Needing a Skill Set that We Don’t Possess happens sometimes especially if we’re doing something new. Luckily, we have enough sources of information online so we don’t really need to worry about learning new things to improve our knowledge.

    1. Exactly. We do have to be careful though. Not all of the information online is accurate. That’s why it’s so important to find different people who are knowledgeable in different areas. We can’ possibly know everything.

  3. Hi Sherryl,

    I’m still a newbie in terms of SEO, Social Marketing and blogging in general. That’s why I consider finding a source of credible and practical information a blessing. Totally on the same page with you here, Alison

  4. I would recommend working with a business or success coach. This has undoubtedly been the #1 reason for my success. Working with someone who has started several businesses and can help you know what you need to look out for is priceless. Thank you for this post!

  5. Hi, Sherryl!
    I usually get support and the information I need on other blogs by reading posts. There is always someone writing about a topic that I am interested in or that I do not know much about.
    I sometimes feel uncomfortable when it comes to asking help, but your post also pointed out well that there are always people willing to help out. It can be either in form of social media or in direct communication with particular experts. The bottom point is-as long as we know where to search for the right help and not being afraid to ask for an advice, all things can get resolved.

  6. You bring up a very good point. There is a lot of misinformation online and even if a solution works well for that person, it’s very possible that it won’t work at all for you. There’s always the possibility that it could actually cause you harm.

    That is such a valuable and and insightful observation about selling step-by-step solutions. I’ve been thinking about this very topic for a while now. It’s encouraging to read this. It helps to validate my idea somewhat.

  7. Thanks for sharing your insights, Sherryl, and I’m definitely with you on this philosophy…

    ” … being part of the blogging community and forming mutually beneficial relationships with people who possess skills that are complimentary to mine.”

    There’s an awful lot of “noise” online, which makes it tremendously difficult for those just starting out. I’m not too proud to admit my learning curve was 3+ years. Yikes! It seemed like an eternity. And believe me, EVERYONE (including all those ever lovin’ gurus) is more than willing to tell you what you “should” be doing. The waters of online marketing and entrepreneurship are muddy, at best. 🙁

    “Dennis Salvatier from Salvatier Studios” — Dennis is a keeper! Not only is he a master at his craft, he’s a heck of a nice guy to connect with online. Happy to know he’s in your circle of influence. Dennis and I don’t live too far away from each other so I’m hoping to have the chance to meet him in person.

    Some of your readers have highlighted the “trust” factor. In a nutshell, it takes TIME to really figure out who you can trust to go to for help online.

    I think the only way to know, for sure, who you can trust is to network with people, read their blogs and converse with them in the comment box, respond to their social media updates, interact with them in group discussions, and even pick up the phone and give someone a call! Ten minutes on the phone can give you a really good inkling about whether someone is the “real” deal or not.

    Wonderful post!

    1. Hi Melanie,
      Thanks for commenting. I apologize for taking so long to respond! I think you and I are very similar as to how we treat social media. It think in “real” life (in the brick and mortar world), we’d find ourselves in similar network and would probably meet and brainstorm over a cup of coffee. 🙂

  8. I pride myself on being resourceful that as much as possible, I try to find solutions on my own. I love the challenge of learning new things. Though I must admit, there are times when we should seek the help of experts so we can focus on more important things. This saves a lot of time, too.

    I love the ‘Lesson Learned’ parts. This is simply another great post from you, Sherryl! 🙂

    1. Thanks Audrey! I appreciate knowing that you liked my blog. 🙂 Sometimes, I have to put the brakes on myself when I’m seeking solutions. It gets to the point where it becomes a mission on my part and I need to ask for help before I find myself spending way too much time on it. There are experts (on things like PHP) and I need to remind myself of that.

      1. I just wanted to add something to #1 – regarding WordPress security. I’m using a plugin called WordPress Firewall 2 that protects your blog against attacks from hackers. This is a fantastic plugin and I highly recommend it. You can download it for free from the WordPress.org site – just search for WordPress Firewall 2

        1. Great suggestion Robert! Thanks. I recently installed that myself because I had started getting messages about attacks. I also replaced the Limit Login Attempts plugin with Login Lockdown. (I really appreciate when people share their favorite plugins in the comments. It can help everyone.)

  9. There is a great site called Effort Share, that allows entrepreneurs to connect and share ideas, as well as get expert advice. Have a look, any tool that can help an entrepreneur is a good tool 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing the link Dusty. I had never heard of this site before. I’m exploring it now. It’s always good to find more resources! Do you have personal experience with it? I’m wondering if there’s value in establishing a presence there from a social networking aspect.

  10. Sherryl,
    You certainly hit the nail on the head about entrepreneurs! I’m always finding new people, blogs, organizations, and Tweeted articles to pursue something I need to know. Your three points were right on the money. Thanks for the suggestions and the reinforcement that I’m not alone.

    1. Hi Sally,
      Thanks for the positive feedback. You are definitely not alone. There is a wonderful community of bloggers online and I’m pleased to say that I’ve managed to connect with some of the nicest ones. 🙂

  11. Almost said, as always I agree with you – which is actually the case. So I will leave it like that..

    It’s essential to have someone to turn to for help. And I have learnt a lot from you all and our community. And what’s more we can all trust one another which is fundamental.

  12. Small business owners are supposed to be all rounder. Their skills related to accounting, sales and other related areas can enable them to manage business better and efficiently. There is a scope for learning every now and then and seeking help from experts is helpful in acquiring new knowledge.

    1. Hi George,
      I think where some of us run into trouble is that as small business owners, we try to do too much ourselves. We need to stand back and look at the whole picture. Doing things ourselves sometimes costs us more than outsourcing in the long run. I know I’ve been questioning lately if some of the things that I’m doing is the best use of my time.

      Thanks for joining us here. I left a comment for you on your Google Plus post. 🙂

  13. You really made me smile Big-Al. As I read your description of the growth and learning curves businesses go through, I could visualize and infographic of sorts starting with the Consciously Incompetent. 🙂

    I hope to hear more from you.

  14. Dear Sherryl

    I am one of those online newbies, stumbling along and taking in the steep learning curve. I thank you for your willingness to share because as you mentioned there are only too many out there who want to sell you outdated information at inflated prices. Unfortunately their is a market place of people willing to pay……..(been their got burned)

    All businesses, online and off go through the same growth and learning curves and it goes like something like this

    When we start our business we are Unconciously Incompetent as we Dont Know what we Dont Know. We then become Conciously Incompetent as we begin to learn we Do Know, What we Dont Know. The next stage usually comes after quite some period of trial and error if we have survived thus far and we become Conciously Competent and we Know, What we Know and then the last stage is when we Know What we Know so well we become the Expert and Unconciously Competent.

    Without the Consiously Competent and Unconciously Competent people willing to Blog and lend a hand, we would all probably stay in the Conciously Incompetent Stage.


    Big-Al Connolly aka The Fast Food Entrepreneur and Hotdog Master founder of Big Als Gourmet Hotdogs and Mobile Food Units

  15. Business was never meant to be done on one’s own and on-line business is no different. The challenge we face on-line is who to trust. There are a lot of people out there who want our money and sell us dis-information.
    A key rule – if someone says you must buy now then stop and think. Never buy what seems to be pressure sales. And always research the products and ask friends and colleagues.
    Thanks for sharing this info Sherryl

  16. Good reminders Sherryl and I think that part of the problem at first is finding those who do have the knowledge and can help. Once you do it is invaluable like with my little episode this week.

    I also think there is so much information around today that makes it more difficult to find the right answers even in forums. I believe there is an opportunity for businesses to provide a step by step solution that people can buy especially for those who do not have the experience so they can avoid the trial and error which Jeannette mentioned.

    Dennis did a good job with your header.

    1. There is an overload of information online and not every solution is appropriate for everyone. One little difference and a solution that works well for (seemingly) everyone else could potentially wreak havoc with your site. That’s the main reason you’re always hearing me advise people to backup their database before making any changes to their site.

      You offer some great advice as to creating step by step solutions that people can buy. I know there’s a product in there somewhere for me to create.

  17. Sherryl,

    I’ve always been pretty proactive in finding my own answers, and in the process at times I have made a rod for my own back.

    Self sufficiency is great, but there are always times that you need the support of other people. If you don’t take the time to foster those relationships you can find yourself in a pretty deep hole with no one to hand you a shovel.

    Being okay with asking for help is something that I’m getting better at.

    1. That’s so true Jackie. I always try to find answers myself but sometimes the solution is so elusive, I find myself posting to forums and almost always someone will have a solution. When the solution isn’t obvious, there’s usually someone who will offer to work with me to it out. In the end, we all benefit.

  18. Sherryl,
    I think we all learn pretty quickly that we can’t do it all alone. First, thanks for the WP tip which i will check out. Through LinkedIn I’m grateful to have met you and our other blogging buddies who have been so supportive. Through the Word Press Group I’ve gotten some excellent advice and tips and I recommend that you and other WP users join if you haven’t already. One IT consultant was so helpful that I hired him and continue to use him. He’s great. Dennis is a terrific designer – love what he’s designed for you. He also writes very thoughtful blog posts. A double threat!

    1. Hi Jeannette,
      I’m glad that you mentioned LinkedIn. It’s a wonderful resource. I am a member of a couple of the WordPress groups on LinkedIn and I have met a few of my clients there. I’m grateful too for the connections that I’ve made there. (We met through the Bloggers Helping Bloggers group I believe.)

      I’ve been meaning to post more often in the Q&A section on LinkedIn and I know you’ve been active there. Has that worked well for you?

      1. Sherryl — I’ve asked a few questions in the Q&A section of LinkedIn but I can’t say I’ve gotten many responses. I did do a post on one of my questions. I think it’s certainly worth a try — just got to think of a provocative question! And, yes, we did meet through Bloggers Helping Bloggers Group which has been a great community.

        1. Think of a provocative question! That’s great advice. I appreciate the feedback. I’m looking for sites to be less active in because I want to make more time for Google Plus. Based on your experience with Q&As on LinkedIn, I’m not going to start participating there. Thanks!

          1. Very smart to establish your priorities. I’m trying to do that now. Just today I unsubscribed from several blogs and newsletters that I never get to read anyway. I’m also reducing the number of webinars I attend — I’m finding that so much about social media is being regurgitated. I don’t claim to be an expert (no one is), but I often feel I know more than the speakers!

  19. Hey Sherryl,

    Great piece as always.To answer your question, where do I go for answers and support… well, here of course but also many of the blogs that you frequent as well.

    Not having a clue about blogging when I first started, I followed a lot of bad advice. It’s hard to know who or what is reputable when you really have no clue yourself. After several horrible trial and error experiences thankfully I found a few bloggers that were not only trustworthy but willing to answer a question or two without charging a fee.

    While I don’t have blogging expertise to offer, I know your recommendations are always reliable and advice quite helpful. My hope is this comment will be a testimony of trust for a new visitor.

    BTW – Your header does really pop, I noticed it right away. Dennis did a wonderful job.

    Have a great weekend.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words of support Kathleen. They’re truly appreciated.

      I am loving my new header. Dennis does do wonderful work. When I saw it, I just had a “duh” moment. It ties in beautifully with my branding strategy.