The label converting industry is still very much dominated by small players. The owner has a variety of hats he or she has to wear every day. This column is dedicated to these people: small business owners who are putting their livelihood on the line every time they fire up the presses. Luckily there is plenty of helpful advice in the way of small business blogs, and below are reviews of five of the best.
Small Business Trends (http://www.smallbiztrends.com/)
One of the most popular blogs in this space is Small Business Trends. Started by Anita Campbell, a former lawyer turned small business expert, this blog focuses on the trends affecting small business. There is a team of writers (full disclosure: I am a contributing writer on this blog) who blog about a wide range of topics such as social media, business operations, management, marketing, business plans, government legislation, and much more. The focus is on providing practical advice on how to deal with the changing business climate. The blog is updated with new posts two or three times a day, but the posts are usually a quick read so it doesn't feel overwhelming. I may be biased, but if you subscribe to only one small business blog, this is your best bet.
You're The Boss (http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/)
The New York Times might seem like an unlikely place for a popular small business blog, but the You're The Boss blog has great content. Again, this is written by a team of writers, many of whom are experienced entrepreneurs who provide some "in the trenches" advice for the small business owner. Being a newspaper blog, there are also several reporters who cover any news stories affecting small business, but I find the most interesting posts are by the entrepreneurs. Many of these people share business challenges they are having and their proposed solutions. They then invite comments back from readers and often a lively and informative discussion takes place. There is also a regular feature on business plan competitions that is very popular.
Small Business Brief (http://www.smallbusinessbrief.com/)
Small Business Brief is not technically a blog, but I am including it here because it is a very popular online resource for small business owners. Small Business Brief is really more of a news aggregator than a blog, publishing the best articles on small business from around the web every day. On any given day you might see an article from The Wall Street Journal, CNN and BusinessWeek, as well as many popular blogs. Every article falls into one of five categories: entrepreneurship, marketing, money, operations and technology. It can be a major commitment to read everything they publish – there are usually 8 to 10 articles every day. I subscribe only to the marketing articles, which makes the feed much more manageable.
The Small Business Blog (http://www.sme-blog.com/)
This generically named blog is actually quite interesting. It is written by Stefan Topfer, the founder and CEO of WinWeb, a UK software company specializing in software for small businesses. Topfer has been a serial entrepreneur his whole career, starting and selling several companies. On the Small Business Blog he writes about the many issues affecting small business. He covers a wide variety of topics such as hiring, accounting, customer service, IT, business planning and UK government policy. It is a very practical blog with a focus on providing actionable advice. One feature I find most helpful is his weekly Top 5 tips, where he provides quick advice on a different topic every week.
Small Biz Survival (http://www.smallbizsurvival.com/)
The last blog in our review is for all those small business owners living in small towns. Small Biz Survival bills itself as "the rural and small town business resource" and it is the brainchild of Becky McCray, a small town entrepreneur in Hopeton, OK, USA. Success is difficult for any small business owner, but those in small towns have additional challenges. One of the themes on this blog is competition: how to deal with bigger competitors, both online and brick-and-mortar companies. There is also a focus on resources and tools, particularly online business resources. I also like the regular features on successful small town businesses which is both inspirational and informative.