Baby steps, baby

Every month, I teach my “Understanding Your Business Website” class at the SBDC at LBCC. In it, I explain very basic concepts about the Internet, websites and website development. And despite the fact that I love teaching people about WordPress and SEO, “Understanding Your Business Website” is truly my favorite class to teach.

Baby steps

I have had countless clients, including actual rocket scientists, apologize to me that they aren’t more tech/web savvy. I never accept their apology. The Internet is overwhelming to a lot of small business owners. And understandably so.

Trying to understand how Twitter works when you’re not even sure what a browser is is like trying to explain a cell phone to someone from the 1800s.

It’s not that these folks are unintelligent. To the contrary, small business owners are often quite bright. It’s just that while some of us have been getting our computer geek on, while others have been getting their baking geek on, or their shop geek on, or their aerospace engineering geek on.

A lot of them are newbies, for sure, but if you handed me a bowl of sticky rice and some seaweed, you would end up with a bowl of sticky rice and some seaweed, because I don’t know how to make sushi. I’m a sushi-making newbie. But that doesn’t mean I can’t learn how, and, while I’ll probably never be Jiro Ono, if I put my mind to it, I could probably compete with 7/11.

“Please don’t apologize,” I tell my clients.

“None of us were born knowing how to use Hootsuite.”

I love demystifying the Internet for my clients, taking it from an abstract concept out there somewhere ::waves hand:: and turning it into an incredibly powerful business tool.

Of course, as with any endeavor, it’s important to have a strong foundation. That’s why people don’t build houses on sand. So in my class, that is where I start. The first question I ask is always the same.

“What is the Internet?”

Once I explain to them, even on a super-simplified level, how the Internet works, they start to get a little gleam in their eye. Then hands start going up. Midway through the class, the nods get bigger and the “Ohhhhhh”s get a little louder. I get to answer questions they didn’t even realize they had.

At the end of the class, indeed at the end of most of my beginner presentations, I offer a few pieces of general advice.

1) Go slowly.

If you try to do everything all at once, you will be doing nothing very soon.

2) Don’t expect to be an expert on the first day.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was any other non-Lego city.

Baby steps, baby.



Sé Reed
Sé Reed is a small business advocate and independent web developer, specializing in the development and implementation of comprehensive web strategies for small businesses. Sé teaches and speaks on topics including WordPress, SEO, and small business and the Internet, and is a regular contributor to the weekly webcast WPWatercooler. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Google+