Every entrepreneur, aspiring or established, has questions that are unique to his or her business. How should I price my seasonal blueberry muffins? How can I incentivize my seasonal blueberry muffin customers to tell their friends about my muffin shop?
It won’t hurt to conduct an online search, but if your question is specific to your business, you may have trouble finding answers. The more unique your question, the less likely you are to find an answer you’re satisfied with.
If your search leads to dead-ends or proves too time consuming, post your questions on entrepreneur-focused websites and forums. Here are a few tips for doing this in an effective and efficient manner.
This step is largely about preparation. Writing down all your unique business questions will allow you to iron out the important details of each question and structure them for clarity. Also, if you need to post a question on multiple forums, you can easily copy and paste.
You’ll also want to write a title or heading for each of your questions. Most forums require a post title, and it’ll be the first thing forum readers see, so make sure it’s clear and specific.
You want your entrepreneur peers and business professionals eyeballing your questions, so avoid signing up with low-traffic entrepreneur forums. Sign up with popular forums on websites like Entrepreneur.com, FoundersSpace.com, and Quora.com.
You can also join LinkedIn “Groups” that revolve around your niche. Business professionals flock to LinkedIn to promote their business, engage with professionals in their field, and showcase their expertise by answering questions posted by group members.
Forum questions are like emails. You want them to be short and to the point. While no one wants to read vague forum questions, even less people want to read questions that are really five questions in one.
As a rule of thumb, ask one question per post. If you’re asking for advice on selling your seasonal blueberry muffins, don’t ask for help with your customer retention strategy.
Also, don’t ramble. Forum readers expect to read one or two paragraphs. If your question is three or more paragraphs long, reread it and make sure to remove any unnecessary detail and fluff.
The only thing more annoying than vague questions is vague answers. Answers like “engage your customers,” or “be a leader” are worthless.
The best way to generate detailed answers is by posting detailed questions. But as an extra line of defense against generic answers, you can include a kind request (kind being the keyword here) stating that you are looking for detailed answers or step-by-step instructions.
If you’re not receiving quality answers, then you may want to include a cash incentive (money is always a great incentive). You may also want to include a cash prize if your question is overly complex or requires specific expertise.
It’s important to be specific. Clearly state who will get the money (the person with the best answer), how much you’ll pay ($5 to $20 is usually fine), and method of payment (PayPal is a safe, reliable choice).
Adding a monetary incentive is a great way to generate quality answers. People love prizes and they’ll jostle to win even five dollars. For a lot of people the real reward is not money, but the satisfaction that comes with acknowledgment—so makes sure to do your part and announce the winner directly on the forum.
Every entrepreneur has to be able to find answers to tough questions. If you’re such an entrepreneur, feel free to share your tactics in the comment section below.