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Six websites that'll help you grow your business today

Barnaby

Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

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Entrepreneurship is a journey of continuous learning. Without taking the time to understand how we can drive business growth, we can miss out on opportunities to run businesses to their full potential. Thankfully, the internet is a limitless source of insight, experience and foresight from industry leaders and new entrepreneurs alike.

Why Entrepreneurs Need Resources for Business Knowledge

To make the most of our digital resources, we have to know where to find the proper knowledge. Over 25 million entrepreneurs in the US either started or ran their own businesses in 2016. Four years later, an e-commerce boom flew out the gates with the introduction of global lockdowns in 2020. Industries evolve, businesses grow but, most importantly, customers shift according to their needs and the market shifts with them.

Solid business knowledge isn't just key to growth; it's an essential tool to navigate markets that warp and shrink and change year on year. So, where can entrepreneurs find the best business knowledge online for themselves and their ventures? Let's take a look.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the most popular resources for entrepreneurs, and for a good reason. It exists somewhere between a professional networking space, social media platform, blog site and pure information hub. It's no wonder that the site is home to over 756 million users.

When it comes to knowledge for business growth, LinkedIn's demographics are a good indicator of why so many find success. LinkedIn's most prominent user bases are the US, China and India, a good combination of established and emerging markets. The global factor exposes entrepreneurs to new perspectives, opportunities and experiences.

Even if you never plan to work in any other market except yours, understanding adjacent sectors and new approaches is vital for scaling your venture successfully.

Then there comes the practical side of LinkedIn. For one, LinkedIn profiles are almost structured in a CV format. Users can list their job history, skills, and connections and write out a short career summary. While that can be an effective tool for job hunting, you can get the most impact out of it as a networking resume.

This easy-to-read structure makes it easier to find individuals with similar interests in your industry. That's great if you're hiring, looking for a business partner or even a mentor. Think of LinkedIn as the ultimate virtual water cooler for like-minded individuals.

Forbes

There are really, really good business blogs – and then there's Forbes itself.

I've been lucky enough to write for Forbes about productivity for the last few years (check out my content here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/b...). Writing for Forbes made me notice that many of us don't use the resource to its full potential. As a largely blog-driven website, many of us click on a Forbes link to read an article on a specific topic.

Forbes has a massive back catalogue from some of the best industry writers on the internet. Forbes doesn't just focus on business trends or celebrity accounting. The site's blog has dedicated sections for:

  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Money
  • Business
  • Small Business
  • Lifestyle
  • Real Estate

Each of those categories has its own subcategories that drive deep into specific niches. As entrepreneurs, that's the information we want. Specificity is where we get the most value when it comes to research.

Forbes hires excellent industry writers – professionals either in business or in analysis. Their articles often feature helpful links that you can follow to additional resources. After all, the only thing better than an experts' knowledge is the source of their own knowledge.

What makes Forbes such a powerful resource is that you can use it for general and specific research. You can read widely for an overview of a market or read deep to hone in on the niche-specific nuggets that can help you grow your business in your sector.

Hubspot

If you're looking for educational business resources online, chances are you've come across Hubspot before. Hubspot is an online platform specializing in marketing, sales, CRM and customer service. The Hubspot blog, in particular, is full of excellent articles for education and support.

While the platform offers various business resources, Hubspot's primary focus is on inbound marketing. There are few marketing methodologies more effective than inbound for business growth, especially in an online marketplace.

Inbound marketing focuses on the buyer's journey: attraction, interest, decision. This is the basic flow that turns strangers into leads and leads into customers. It's a non-invasive form of marketing that focuses on bringing traffic to your business site rather than going out and trying to find your audience while they're busy on other platforms.

The site has also expanded to introduce Hubspot Academy, a free online training resource for inbound marketing and sales. Through the Academy, you can run topic-focused courses and quick lessons led by industry professionals. The best part: these courses are geared specifically towards entrepreneurs!

Their certifications continue to receive excellent reviews. More importantly, they are a place to get high-quality, bite-size insights into their own approach to business and the market they operate in.

Quora

Quora is an online forum where users can ask questions and receive answers. Sounds simple, right? But what are the benefits for entrepreneurs?

As with many online forums, Quora's categorizing system helps to sort interests into neat spaces where people can answer the most pressing questions. The entrepreneurship side of Quora is home to business owners, leaders and innovators at every skill and experience level.

This means that the queries range from basic but essential questions to complex concepts that need to be broken down through detailed responses.

What's great about Quora is that the answers are given directly instead of in a blog post format. This allows for follow up questions to be asked, which can drive conversations to more profound ideas that can unlock the business world.

People who observe the conversation can help bring the most valuable responses to the top by up-voting them. They can also contest disputed information by down-voting or responding through a comment, which allows the community to ensure the integrity of the information there.

Since Quora is designed as a question-and-answer website, its community tends to be more welcoming and generous than other online forum communities. People can ask questions safely and receive answers from people who care about giving value back and sharing their hard-earned lessons with others.

You'll rarely find one type of answer to a question – after all, everyone is there to share their perspective on the solution. So users can see different approaches to the same problem, hopefully finding the best one for their own situation in the process.

Quora also functions as a great networking tool. If you have a question, you might connect with one of the responding users and build a business relationship there. If you have an answer, you can showcase your expertise and link up with peers to share knowledge of the site as well.

Neil Patel

Neil Patel is one of the best-known figures in the business. He is a top business influencer, New York Times Bestselling author and constant feature on platforms like The Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

Neil Patel's blog is considered one of the best resources for marketing insights, business trends, SEO tips and education. He is an influencer who has built a business around helping people build their businesses. His popularity is just one sign of how effective it has been.

Considered a digital marketing leader, he has 912k subscribers and over 730 videos on his YouTube channel. His educational content on YouTube is precious if you prefer your resources in an audio or visual format.

Take the time to watch any of his series on digital marketing, growth hacking or e-commerce, and you'll walk away with a notepad full of valuable knowledge. Over the years, Neil has put together over a dozen short courses explaining a host of marketing niches, including:

  • Growth Hacking
  • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
  • Email Marketing
  • Facebook Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • LinkedIn Marketing
  • Instagram Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • E-commerce marketing
  • SEO Marketing
  • Link Building Strategies
  • Traffic Generation
  • Sales
  • Entrepreneurship

The best part, you ask? All of these short courses are completely free and available on Neil's YouTube page. You can watch them and then link back to his blog site for supplementary resources. These can help you nail down the most important concepts in entrepreneurship to get your business thriving.

The Creative Penn

Much of the business knowledge out there is written for small-to-medium-sized startups. This makes sense considering how some of the biggest challenges in owning a business start when managing a team and running a business with other people.

Still, there are also entrepreneurs who either run their businesses themselves or with a skeleton team. For those business owners, the most valuable information can come from entrepreneurs who operate in the same way.

Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thriller novels. Those novels are written under her penname, J.F. Penn, but that's only half of her sprawling online business. The other half lives on The Creative Penn, an online resource for artistic entrepreneurs.

While The Creative Penn skews towards publishing-specific information, it's still a fantastic business resource. Joanna writes extensively about contract negotiations, running your own business (from home!), marketing, networking, trends, workflows, and making a six-figure income from your passion.

As valuable as this information is, it's also presented in various mediums for maximum convenience! The resources available on The Creative Penn come in the form of blog articles, a successful podcast and even books available for purchase!

You can find the podcast on the official YouTube channel. There, The Creative Penn often features guests with experience in starting their own ventures, networking as a new entrepreneur, business growth, industry success and failure, and innovation.

The Art of Making Things Happen

What does it take to succeed? Surprisingly: failure. The ability to fail as quickly and as cheaply as possible translates to opportunities to learn while the stakes are low so you can succeed when the time comes. That's often the theme with the guests that appear on The Art of Making Things Happen podcast, hosted by Steve D. Sims.

But let the host tell you a little about himself, in his own words:

"Steve Sims grew up poor, and he was bitter about that as an adolescent. But little did he know that he was learning the cornerstones of what would mold him into the successful businessman he is today. The founder of Bluefish, the world's first luxury concierge that delivers the highest level of personalized travel, transportation, and cutting-edge entertainment services. Hear his story and how his transparency and honesty separate him from the rest."

The Art of Making It Happen podcast features successful entrepreneurs as guests. Still, it focuses on the hardships, setbacks and obstacles they overcame to become the leaders they are today. The conversations often track the journey people take to realizing their full potential in business and in life.

Every podcast episode comes with a free transcript and blog summary to supplement the audio. Take the time and listen to those who have walked the same path you're on now. Ever the professional host, Steve presents questions that focus both on his guests' unique paths and the shared struggles many entrepreneurs face.

How to find the best resources for business growth

No two journeys are the same in entrepreneurship. We all have unique and shared obstacles to overcome, a range of goals to aim for, and individual perspectives to consider. As a result, the best resources are often the ones that speak directly to our journeys, struggles, hopes, and ambitions.

Finding the right resources for business growth takes time, but it's a process you can approach with enthusiasm. Here are some actionable steps you can take to expand your perspective and find the best information for your venture::

  • Search for information in your niche
  • Look for industry experts who run similar businesses to you
  • When networking, especially with peers, ask people for the resources that helped them
  • Share the resources you do find – pay it forward!
  • If your resource has a comments section or a public email, follow up and ask questions

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About the author

Barnaby
Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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