You can learn anything on the Internet.
Need to figure out how to tie a tie before a job interview? Trying to understand how to do a DIY remodel of your downstairs bathroom? Want to know how to cook?
The Internet has the answers.
What if you're trying to grow a business? Can the Internet help you solve the problems that you face every day and give you the tools you need to build an empire?
Well, yes, but actually, no.
The Internet holds the largest concentration of knowledge that the human race has ever seen. Over 1 billion websites are hosted online, yet only 17% are active. It's where you can search for anything you can think of and find a result. How can the Internet help you build a business?
Experience vs. Information
These days, we live in the age of information. Everything is accessible.
So, when you're a small business owner working through a complex accounting question or want to learn more about digital marketing, you can easily find an article on someone's website with an answer.
But how did that answer get there in the first place?
Information comes from experience - from what someone has learned over time and found true!
Many people regularly come to understand how to do numerous complex things (digital marketing, accounting, or cooking) through studying information. Still, it's not until that information is put into practice that it's genuinely learned.
The Internet allows us to draw from the distilled experience of one another, which shapes how we act and make decisions in difficult situations, like the ones that occur when running a business.
The Community Around Us
One of the most powerful aspects of the Internet for small business owners has also been one of the most underutilized until recently.
The Internet enables people from all over the world to connect and share their knowledge. When we participate in communities of other people pursuing similar goals, like building a business, we are given a unique opportunity to learn from each other.
Community is so impactful because it allows us to actively go beyond independent research (Googling or reading articles) to learn from one another.
Instead of being restricted to a written format in which we have limited context and the ability to interpret information, communities enable a more profound form of learning and understanding directly from experience.
Communities on the Internet also allow us to combat one of the most devastating aspects of entrepreneurship: loneliness.
Many businesses are started alone - in a vacuum relying on one's personal experience. When you actively pursue building a community around your small business, you can transition from a lonely experience to a common shared experience.
Instead of entirely relying on yourself to build an empire or discover how to build your business, you can connect with others and learn directly from their experience. You can share the struggles you walk through every day and hear how others overcame similar ones. You can truly be impacted by people you wouldn't have otherwise known.
Community is a powerful thing.