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Building a Better Business Forum

Brian over at Platinax Business Forum followed up on his use of ReviewMe for marketing. This blog was one of the blogs asked to review Platinax.

In the follow-up forum discussion, Brian says this about Platinax:

I personally consider Platinax a successful failure – it is successful because it is profitable, but a failure in that the key purpose of providing an authorative site of value for small business owners has largely gone unaccomplished.

Brain also says:

Aside from content changes, I also need to get the message out more as well and push on the networking – because I simply cannot make a real success of Platinax unless I succeed with the core aims.

I think Brian is thinking out loud now, and it’s good that he’s thinking, although it might be too soon to be making decisions. As a small business owner and 3x entrepreneur who likes to keep things on the small side, I see exactly the kind of progress coming out of this that is required for Platinax. And that might be exactly the content a business site like Platinax needs to cultivate. After all, it’s about building a small business (Platinax in this case) using the web (and ReviewMe in this instance). THAT is the conversation that I think should be continued in the Platinax forums. I can find information about small business blah blah blah just about everywhere I turn. Where can I participate in a discussion about using ReviewMe to develop a Small Business Website? One based on actual experience? Over at Platinax, if Brian keeps the conversation going.

I think a good way to see how feedback can help develop a business forum is to look at A Day in the Life of a Small Business Entrepreneur: me. Today I looked into PayCycle, the latest and greatest online payroll processor. I despise ADP, and have been very disappointed in PayChex, and they are both too expensive for what they offer, yet I am literally forced to use one of them (by law). Now I can chose PayCycle for a fraction of the cost of ADP or Paychex. PayCycle is award-winning, and well regarded so far. Funny thing, though: I discovered it by chance. I had not seen any discussion of it in my daily travels, and it’s been winning awards since 2006. Go figure. Where can I discuss that with peers whom I respect for their sensibilities and real world experience?

Later this morning I tracked down a freelancer I had lost contact with, but who had done stellar work for me in the past. Why was it so hard to find him? Lots of reasons, I suppose, but the time I spent tracking him down cost me more than the job I have for him. I’m no accountant, but that can’t be good for my bottom line. Another topic for a business forum that would make me take a second look, and might prompt me to participate.

I also re-evaluated my use of Basecamp at $50/month, because I also use ActiveCollab for several projects, an old version of PHP Workshop, Mantis, Contribute, and phpCollab. I like BaseCamp but need more. Do I keep BaseCamp and add Freshbooks? Do I keep FreshBooks and use ActiveCollab? I have time for a forum where the focus is on DOING BUSINESS and not using technology, but how many of those are there that include enough of the technology? I doubt I am alone in the way I do both, and still need to make sound, expedient business decisions. In fact I know that is where a good portion of my competitiveness comes from. I can make such decisions quickly and soundly, where others can either make them soundly or quickly, but not both at the same time. Where are the other people like me?

These are just a few real things I dealt with today. And I did real work, taught my kids to race popsicle sticks in the creek behind the house, ordered a new lamp, and signed tax documents. And I wrote this blog post. And if I can find my Platinax login details, I’ll join that conversation as well and see if there are others like me looking to stick to what matters when doing business as an independent entrepreneur online. (Seriously… managing all these “memberships” is a significant barrier to participation for me).

It’s not a successful failure, Brian. It’s a successful start-up. Now you need to let the market drive it, or drive it according to the market’s directions. I can see you’re listening, but are you listening?

Continue the conversation over there :


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