Small Business Tip Tuesday: In Praise of Moving Slowly

by Ken Mueller on March 20, 2012 · 19 comments

white 15 Small Business Tip Tuesday: In Praise of Moving SlowlySend to Kindle
150x100 Small Business Tip Tuesday: In Praise of Moving Slowly

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I was driving by one of my regular gas stations the other day and noticed that the price of a gallon of gasoline had gone from $3.57 to $3.69 in under 24 hours. And I remembered back that it had actually been at $3.69 several days prior to that, as well. The price seems to fluctuate rather quickly, and in pretty wide swings.

There was a time when the price of a gallon of gas would stay the same for a long time, and then perhaps fluctuate just a penny or two. Now it seems as though it changes nearly every day or two, and the change is often at a rate of 10-cents or more.

Now I’m no economist, and certainly not an expert on world affairs, politics, fossil fuels, or anything else that’s related to the price of a gallon of gasoline in Lancaster, PA. But I know that these rapidly and drastically changing prices are somehow in reaction to what is going on around the world, and not just related to the current prices and availability of crude oil, but also to what we *think* might happen in the near future, pertaining to prices and availability.

In other words, we see something happen in the Middle East, and *think* that it *might* affect the prices down the line, and so we react.

Is this how we run our businesses? I see this in the social media and online realm all the time.

Our competitor is using video! Get me on YouTube now!

Or, perhaps:

Everyone is using Pinterest. It’s huge! Let’s get on Pinterest. Fast!

This sort of social speculation can be very dangerous, and our attraction to the latest shiny object might hurt us, rather than help us.

When something new comes along, we don’t need to rush to be the first in, particularly in the small business world.

Don’t get me wrong. I love when my clients come to me and talk about something “new” that they’ve been hearing about, whether it be a new platform like Pinterest, or something related to QR Codes and geolocation. I love when they are paying attention to what’s going on around them, and ask me questions. This gives me a chance to sit down, evaluate what they are currently doing, and explain to them how things work. Then we can make an informed decision together as to whether or not to try something new, and if so, how we will approach it.

There is rarely a first-mover advantage anymore, at least in the world of social media and online marketing. Quite often the first-movers haven’t thought things through very well, and they are prone to making mistakes.

This is why I generally encourage my clients to wait a bit before jumping into something new. New platforms come and go. Take some time to look before you leap. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Sign up for a personal account if possible – Play around a bit on your own before deciding whether this is something you want to use with your business.

2. Ask yourself: “Can I handle it?” – Is it too time consuming? How steep is the learning curve? Will it integrate with your other online and offline efforts? You need to decide what factors make a particular platform worthwhile for you. And of utmost importance is: Can you maintain? In other words, once you start using something, will you be able to follow through over time? Each new platform takes up more of your time, which is already stretched thin.

3. Is there a reason to use it? – Seriously. Why do you want to use something new? Just because it’s new? Just because everyone is talking about it? You must come up with a compelling reason why you even want to consider jumping on to a new platform.

4. What’s the value? – Once you’ve played around, determine whether or not there might actually be a value in trying this new thing whatever it may be. This is where the question of ROI comes in: will it help you improve your business and generate revenue, or will it merely be a waste of time and resources?

5. How are others using it? – Take a look around. Google some blogs that might talk about creative uses of a particular platform or technology. Most of us aren’t going to reinvent the wheel. Instead, see what works for others (or doesn’t work), and see if you can adapt it to your unique situation.

6. Don’t base everything on your competitors – Yes, we need to remain competitive, but not necessarily on every platform. Whatever you choose to do, do it well. Your competitors may be rushing in too fast, as well. Keep an eye on your competitors, but don’t feel you have to imitate them.  If you merely jump in because they are there, and then duplicate what they do, you’ll be seen as an imitator and latecomer. Only jump in if you’re ready, and if you can do it differently and better than they can.

There’s value in those old sayings:

Walk, don’t run.

Look before you leap.

Make sure you’re ready, and willing to make a commitment, before you grab on to the latest shiny social object for your business.

Have you ever jumped into some online, social marketing platform too soon? How do you decide which platforms to use for your business?

 

 

 Small Business Tip Tuesday: In Praise of Moving Slowly
Buffer
19 comments
kmueller62
kmueller62

@ValerieDeveza @EliRoseSocial thanks for the RTs!

LizJostes
LizJostes

I loved all 6 tips. Also, I lean more towards "less is more" with social media. It's too easy to get caught up in the frenzy and end up stretched so thin that you aren't doing yourself nor your business any good.

 

As a related aside, QR codes make me stabby.

Amy Peveto
Amy Peveto

Hopping into "the next big thing" is something that a lot of businesses do, usually to their detriment. Everyone else may be using X social media, but you have to stop and consider whether it's best for you and/or your business. Answering this question involves the points you mention in your article, as well as working out a strategy for using that platform.

 

Excellent points all around, Ken. Thanks for sharing!

Shonali
Shonali

Inherent in many of the questions you pose, Ken, is this one: "What do I need to DO?" Not as in physically do via social media, but achieve from a business/results point of view. My mantra - well, one of them - is "begin at the end." If that's where we start, identifying what it is that we want to achieve from a business point of view, the road to that end becomes so much clearer. And it leads to the "how" questions: how will ____ help me achieve these results? If the answer is "it won't," or "probably not," then why bother?

Latest blog post: How Are You?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

Jeez. Our gas is $4.98. We keep waiting for it to go above $5. But on the shiny object syndrome, I agree with you. This is what we do and it's hard for us to keep up. Someone asked me a question on FB about this very thing - how do you know when you should jump on something or not. I'll refer her to you.

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

There are way too many platforms and things move way too fast for a small business person to keep up with!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @LizJostes I love QR codes, when they are used well. Too many people slap them up there just because they can, though.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @Amy Peveto Thanks, Amy. I already see too many businesses that mishandle, or have abandoned, their Facebook or Twitter presence. If you can't get those right, why jump into something new? It doesn't make sense. Pick one or two platforms, do them well, and then see if something else makes sense. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @Shonali That's a great way of looking at it, Shonali. Start at the end and work backwards. Too often we start without having any goals, because, well...that's what everyone else is doing, so it must be the right thing to do, right?

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @ginidietrich Just hit $3.79 this morning. Glad we're not paying what you are! And yeah, I have a hard time keeping up. For me, when something new comes along, I usually check it out, register so I can have an account (personal), and just sort of play a little and watch. Though there are plenty of times I just look at something and walk away. If something is just "facebook in new clothes" then I'm not going to bother. I figure if it's just another Facebook, people won't be going there. Same with Twitter or Foursquare. It has to have something inherently and significantly different than the established big boys, which is why Pinterest is a bit more interesting to me. it's different.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @BestRoofer Exactly. Take your time, choose carefully. Find the ones that will work for you, and if you are going to jump in, go all in. 

Erin F.
Erin F.

 @KenMueller  @BestRoofer Yep, it's easier to jump than to go one toe at a time. :) I like that it's a calculated jump, though. It's not jumping for jumping's sake or because everybody is doing it.

Previous post:

Next post: