Monday, May 5, 2008

Harnessing the wisdom of busy execs to find the best stuff online

Taken a look at BizSugar?

It's a place for business owners, managers and entrepreneurs in small and midsized businesses to "discover, share and vote for the best business tips, trends, news and strategies on the Web."

The idea: If you find a business story, tip or video that you like, give 'em a little sugar!

I liked it immediately (thus the reason why we added the BizSugar button below) because it squares with our philosophy: Give busy execs info that's easy to read, easy to understand and easily accessible.

BizSugar isn't about geewhiz fads, or the latest tech trends. Instead, it's trying to simplify life for busy execs who don't have time to sift through mountains of stuff.

I asked its founder John Holsen by email how it was going. If you are marketing to small to medium size businesses, you may be particularly interested in his comments about how business is using the Web.

Any trends that have emerged?

John's answer: Yes, but it’s almost like an anti-trend. There seems to be two distinct business segments out there: those who actively use the web to help them do business and solve business problems and those that don’t. I always knew this, but didn’t realize how large the second group still is until I started bizSugar.

“Are you familiar with Digg?” All but a couple of them said no.

For example, I’ve probably given my little elevator speech about bizSugar to fifty or so people since the launch – most were business owners and quite a few were younger than I am. I usually like to start by giving them a point of reference such as, “Are you familiar with Digg?” All but a couple of them said no. I’d throw out the names of a few other social media sites and get the same answer. It’s not that these people are complete Luddites – they use email daily and many, but not all, have some type of basic website.

They think of the Web as a convenient “answerbox” for quick questions and nothing more.

However, after asking a few more questions, I realized that they think of the Web as a convenient “answerbox” for quick questions and nothing more. Most rarely, if ever, read blog posts, and those familiar with online social networking think it’s the domain of kids.

Therefore, it seems like there are two parallel business communities happening here – each with their own economy and way of doing business. I’m hoping that bizSugar can be one of the services that can bridge the gap between these two communities, but I realize it won’t be easy. Luckily, every year a new generation of young entrepreneurs emerges who grew up understanding the full advantages that the Web has to offer.

Why did you start it?

John's answer: When I first heard about social news and bookmarking sites, I thought it was a great idea and immediately started checking them out to see if they could help me in my business. I was disappointed to discover that their business sections had a lot of useless information and much of it had nothing to do with business. The focus of these sites seemed to be on technology and anything funny or controversial – at least that’s what got the most votes. Still, I liked the concept and knew that a site targeted to the SMB community could save business owners a lot of reading time.

John's email is He's getting ready to launch a weekly round up by email of the best stories on his site.

Click here to read more about him and BizSugar.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online blog editor Julie Power on Monday May 5 at 9 a.m.


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