Small Biz, Rainbows, Unicorns, And Social Media/Websites

Unicorn Apocalypse: We'll kill you all with rainbows! And cuteness!People parading around as ‘social media experts’ and ‘web designers’ often stop at people’s places of business, hop off their unicorns and point at the rainbow they just rode in on. “You can do this too!”  Well, of course they can. They only need a unicorn and an on-ramp to the rainbow.  So they gladly get sold a spare unicorn with no understanding of how to ride the unicorn and no understanding of the rules of the road on the rainbow. Effectively they sell an overpriced bag of Skittles and a rocking unicorn as preparation for the unicorn apocalypse.

It’s one of the more common things I see with small businesses – one person businesses, or ‘Mom & Pop’ businesses – is the issue of social media and internet presence. It’s not that they do or do not have a social media/internet presence –  it seems that someone is always ready to take their money to get them started down the path.

It’s that they often have unrealistic expectations of the services that they buy or the amount that they themselves can do. This is a big problem because social media can be particularly disheartening, and the Internet can be pretty daunting for someone who simply wants to make a good product or provide a good service.  

I had one person tell me, “I’m not smart enough to do that.” I responded, “That’s not true.” She then said, “Well, it’s not how I want to spend my time.”

That’s true.

What these small businesses need to know is what they already do know – their business. From juicing vegetables, to making kale chips, to throwing needles into people, to making great chicken wings – it all boils down to your business. If you don’t know your market, and you don’t know your product or service, no one selling Skittles and a rocking unicorn will help you. Here’s what you need to understand:

  • Your website and social media presence is marketing and branding.
  • Your internet presence can be passive – a ‘business card’ site – or interactive in various ways.
  • Your social media presence can never be passive. No one should buy a unicorn to keep it in the stable.

You get from your website and social media presence what you put into it. Sure, you can have a zillion followers on Facebook, but are they interacting? Are they engaged? Are you interacting? Are you engaged?

And – is it worth it? I’ve seen local businesses struggling to grow – it’s an awkward phase – and it doesn’t help when they’re spending their hard won time and/or hard earned money on ineffective internet and social media presences. If you’re selling all of your product or service, you probably shouldn’t oversell unless you have a plan for that success.  Your money and time is better spent growing your business first to handle that success.

And – a warning. Be wary of people selling you rocking unicorns and overpriced bags of Skittles.

Yes, Old Hard Drives Are Safe To Take Apart.

Old Hard Drive... circa 1982 (6)One of the interesting things about posting my pictures on Flickr with Creative Commons licensing is where they turn up. This particular image is associated with this response as to whether or not old hard drives are safe to take apart.

Clearly, it's too late for me to be reading that article.

The hard drive pictured, as I recall, was from an original IBM PC/XT and had 10 whopping megabytes on those metal platters. It was plenty under DOS - and it had Windows 3.1 as well as GEM Desktop on it, with various archaic desktop publishing software.

A bit of history. Safe to take apart (and trust me, there's little I haven't).

It's nice to have my images used like this.


Revisiting The ASUS G74SX-XA1 Republic of Gamers 17.3-Inch Gaming Laptop

In November, 2011, I got my ASUS G74SX-XA1 Republic of Gamers Laptop and was pretty impressed with it. The trouble with first impressions, of course, is that they are only first impressions. Almost 2 evolutions of Moore's Law later, it remains a powerhouse compared to most laptops out there, with it's i7 processor still performing better than most laptops (compare the i7 and the i5).

Until a month ago, I had no problem.  Then, for the first time in decades, I managed to spill coffee on the keyboard and found that ASUS support 2 years later is pretty non-existent. One could argue - in fact, when I finally got a hold of someone at ASUS they did argue - that the system was too old for them to support. A replacement keyboard for the system couldn't be found through the ASUS online store. I ended up with a knock-off from China that works well. The laptop remains worth keeping 2 years later because it still outperforms most of the systems on the market, but when it comes to the ASUS Republic of Gamers Laptops, there's something you need to know: You can't expect them to actually have your system hardware off the shelf when you need it.

In fact, it's such a pain that I spent a bit of time looking at replacement systems so that I could continue working. When it comes to the actual support, ASUS isn't very responsive and, really, doesn't care too much after the initial sale. For low dollar systems, I might be more understanding - but the system was/is not (I've seen used systems selling for $700). When it comes time to purchase a new system, based off of my experience in dealing with ASUS in North America, the lack of support for a simple keyboard replacement is something I will not soon forget.

So if you do buy an ASUS Republic of Gamers system, don't expect too much in the way of hardware replacement. In that way, you won't be disappointed.

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