I SPENT many years working in very large companies in various combinations of online business department or unit. This started out in relatively early days of business opportunities with the world wide web, so often time was spent in defining organisation shape and designing efficient processes, as much as it was spent in chasing developing business opportunities.
When there are no previous rules or guidelines, this offers a great opportunity to look freshly at a set of challenges and come up with what should be the right answer for that organisation at that time in their development.
One of my clients asked me recently how big business organise their online activities. Much of what big businesses do in the online space can be adapted by small businesses, it is a question of scaling the effort and making use of robust processes and systems to maximise that effort. There is an opportunity to think fresh and to strategically organise your efforts in order to do this. There are also some things that you would be glad to be free of as a small business that can be limiting in a larger scale operation.
So what can small businesses learn from big business websites?In a big business, typically you would have a collection of specialists, people whose entire role might be web analytics, customer experience, operational support, formed into effective teams to support the development of the company’s online estate.
Where internal specialists weren’t available, you might draw on the resources of an external agency, such as copywriters, SEO specialists or web design agencies – for specific projects, for long-term retained work, or for a period of transition to train up internal resource in a speciality.
Other internal departments might be called in to support a core online team, which also requires great cross-functional cooperation, sharing of the same objectives, and some very strong team leadership to ensure all goes smoothly.
In a small business, resource is much tighter, and employees tend to be generalists rather than specialists; you might have one person responsible for all marketing activity or even more. The luxury of internal specialists isn’t available, but what working ideas can you apply to help you achieve some online business successes?
Think big, act smallWhile you may not have the luxury of whole individuals to section bundles of work for the website, by recognising that there are certain distinct tasks, you will be able to assign these tasks an appropriate amount of time each week that can be done either by yourself or another team member.
Where you have identified key tasks and do not have resource available, you should recognise what is best done efficiently by an expert, and you may need to assign budget to external resource that will support you as extended team members.
There are some things that would really benefit from using external resource, such as designing a new website or consistent attention to SEO; you may even be able to rely on external support to help you in selection of the right agencies to support your business objectives.
For other things, such as social media use or tone of voice on website, it may make better business sense for you or a team member in the long-term to take this on. You may want to select external support to train you in the basic and essential web activities that can subsequently be taken in-house.
By being clear on what you want to achieve and by segmenting the efforts needed against the time you have available, you will quickly build up a picture of resource and skill needs.
By being smart in the processes you use you will be able to maximise the effort needed to achieve online success. Using resource planning alongside editorial calendar and publishing processes will mean that you can optimise to suit the size of your business. With sound processes in place you will also be in a good position to scale your efforts for growth as you progress.
Making the most of small businesses advantage
You would also do well to remember and make the most of the advantages of a smaller size. Big businesses can become bound up in internal approvals and overgrown systems that are difficult to change. Successful governance can mean negotiating a forest full of hidden agendas and consensus can be very difficult to reach.
Keeping your online efforts streamlined, fresh and targeted means you can move quickly and move towards reaching your goals.
If you would like to know more about how I can help you to achieve success by working smartly and effectively online, please get in touch to discuss further. What are your most difficult challenges when scaling your online ambition? I would love to hear more in the comments below.