Skip business school--Work.com puts best practices online
A new small-business advice site, Work.com, launched today. It's a collection of how-to and advice articles, nicely organized and easily searchable. Anybody running their own business will probably find useful tips in it.
Users can also become writers, putting down their experience for others to use. The way the team built the authoring tool is very smart. Recognizing that most entrepreneurs know an awful lot but don't know how to say it, the system walks authors down a path of creating an introduction, then a series of "action steps" with specifics (subtitled, "I recommend..."), and finally a list of resources and related online sources. This structure keeps the articles focused and consistent.
Why contribute? The usual reason: exposure. If I'm a caterer and I write a story about feeding people at business events, I might be able to get some good business from the article.
Users can rate articles, and the highest-rated stories bubble up to the top. The threat of bad user ratings acts as a check against Work.com authors shamelessly pitching their own services.
Work.com is a strong and focused community publishing platform, but while it's pitched as a Web 2.0 service, its use of new online capabilities is not revolutionary. It's not a wiki, for example; users can comment on stories but cannot edit them.
It's worth looking at if you run a small business and have questions about how to do it better. (If you don't have questions, what are you doing running a business in the first place?)
See also the small-business resource, AllBusiness.com, and CNET's own collection of small-business best practices.