Tom Teague’s new book Online Business Success for Thought Leaders: Create Visibility for Positive Impact is a comprehensive, easy-to-understand exploration of what is needed for a business to have an online presence that includes but extends beyond a website. Teague has written this book after seven years of building his own and other people’s online businesses and learning as he went. He has made it the kind of book he wishes he’d had at the beginning of his entrepreneurial career, which he affectionately terms Internet Marketing Grad School.
Before Teague began to build online platforms, he spent thirty-five years as a high-performing, innovative contributor and leader of software development and information systems teams at Exxon and NASA. In between, he also taught chemical engineering design at Texas A&M and Rice University, and he led joint industry technical data standards efforts for several years as an independent consultant. Then he became an independent entrepreneur and business owner as well as author. He wanted to build an online presence to promote his first book, Awaken to Choice, and decided to learn how to do it himself. Online Business Success for Thought Leaders walks us through his learning process: what advice he was given when he began, and what was right and wrong about that advice. He is honest about mistakes he made, his own shortcomings, and the strengths and weaknesses of the various tools he used to build his online platform.
Ultimately, Online Business Success for Thought Leaders reflects Teague’s discovery of how to systematically solve the puzzle of creating an online business in a teachable way. Today, he teaches his processes to others, and this book contains his know-how all in a nutshell. Teague’s goal is to help business owners succeed not just in making a website but in creating greater visibility for their businesses so they have greater opportunity to achieve their missions.
The book is divided into four parts, each of which has three or four chapters. The parts are titled: Clarifying Business Strategy, Selecting Systems, Creating Online Assets, and Sprinting to Success. The first part may be the most important because you cannot build an online presence without knowing what you wish to accomplish through that presence. Teague discusses how to understand your business, engage your audience, and come up with a business strategy. In the second part, he walks you through selecting the kinds of systems you need to implement that strategy. In the third and fourth parts, he walks you through a systematic approach to building your online platform assets step by step to support your business strategy.
The book is rich with information-too much to discuss all the parts and chapters in detail here-but Teague has included a complete list of every possible tool you may want to incorporate into your business strategy and then offers advice on how to use it. Topics include: building an email list, selling a product online, creating course content, the right platforms for blogs and vlogs, using social media, and perhaps most importantly, how to determine which of these tools you need, how you will use them, and how to put them all together in a systematic way that will support your business for the short- and long-term. Overall, Teague teaches how to custom-create a system to fit your business’ unique needs and drive its success.
Beyond how to use these tools, Teague devotes much space to understanding your customer’s journey. How does your customer find you, get to know you, interact with you, and ultimately buy from you? He discusses how to have online and offline conversations to build trust with your customers and to help you better understand how to serve them. Plus, and perhaps most vitally, he explores how to decide who you want your customer to be and how to attract that type of customer.
Finally, Teague discusses how to streamline processes and not clutter up your platform, but to create a healthy balance of complexity, features, and ease of use to make your platform appealing to your customers while making your life easier.
I really appreciated all of Teague’s advice because as an author and self-employed entrepreneur, I learned from scratch how to build my first website using templates in 2005. As time went by and I struggled to make it do what I wanted, I could have used Online Business Success for Thought Leaders to help me better realize my true needs and make my sites effective. I am not by any means a technical person, but I found the book easy to understand and follow, and it made me rethink some aspects of how I do business myself. I think anyone who has built their own website and tried to attract customers to it will find this book of value. For anyone starting out in business, this book is a must-have.