As a kid, there were plenty of people who had influence over me and on the world around me, but they weren’t called influencers.
Now, every TEDx talk is given by some blockchain influencer who’s leading the way to new authentic online experiences. While the language can be a bit goofy—which is to say, the language is goofy—there’s a lot to be learned from the folks we now refer to as influencers.
Of course, who falls under the influencer umbrella is up for debate. Personally, I look for people who:
- Have been around for a while
- Know how to turn data into insights
- Have front line experience, in one way or another
My least favorite talking heads are the ones who have never been stuck in the business. You can have good insights without having done the job, but the relatability of someone who’s actually done it makes all the difference to me.
The folks listed here check at least a few of my boxes. More than that, they have something interesting to say. These are people who, if you listen to them, can really teach you something about managing a successful small business.
For each influencer, I’m including their name, a link to their Twitter profile, a quick overview of who they are and why they made my list, and a recent quote.
Tomasz is a partner at Redpoint Ventures and one of the most detailed voices in the entrepreneur community. He runs a website focused on entrepreneurial concerns, mainly around raising capital, but also covering general tech trends and stats.
His data-driven approach to business is inspiring, and his knowledge of the VC space is pretty close to unmatched. You can also subscribe to his newsletter through his site if you’re interested in having some longer form content sent to your inbox.
The Two Ingredients of Mastery https://t.co/mKisPlnFHa
— Tomasz Tunguz (@ttunguz) April 13, 2017
Mike Rowe is one my heroes. I certainly don’t always agree with his specific positions, but I love his focus on labor in the U.S. If you’re not familiar, Mike is the star of Dirty Jobs and gives a lot of his voice to the needs of the American working class.
His Twitter feed is full of interviews with people across the country who do the hands-on work that makes America run. Want to know how important trucking is to the Midwest? Mike is probably the guy to ask.
— The Real Mike Rowe (@mikeroweworks) April 18, 2017
I know—he’s not really a small business guy. I’ve got Elon on the list because he’s the good kind of insane. His vision of what the future can be is unrivaled, and his ability to make that vision a reality should be inspiring to anyone.
For those who have somehow not come across Mr. Musk, he’s the man behind Tesla, SpaceX, and a bunch of other futuristic undertakings. His Twitter feed is full of, well, the future. Spaceships, tunnels between cities, and powering neighborhoods with sunshine. The sense of wonder and adventure he provokes make you feel like a kid again, and it makes you want to go out and do great things.
Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September. Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2017
Ann is the author of Everybody Writes, which is a good introduction to blogging for non-bloggers. She generates a lot of content on generating content, a key to any business that has an online presence—so, every company.
Her Twitter feed is a nicely curated series of links to marketing articles and how-tos. If you’re looking to make a bigger splash with your website, Ann can point you in the right direction.
— Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) April 13, 2017
Pat is a passive income guru. I made the guru part up; I don’t know what he calls himself. His focus on passive income, though, is very real. One thing small business owners often overlook is their eventual retirement.
There’s a tendency to believe you’ll build up this business, sell it off, and then either live off that sale or start a new business. Wash, rinse, repeat. In reality, you should find a way to retire without working so hard. Passive income can be that way, and Pat is happy to explain it to you.
— Pat Flynn (@PatFlynn) April 15, 2017
I’ve written before about how important a support circle is for entrepreneurs and Gary seems to feel the same way. He’s a startup investor and general business culture guy, and he’s here to get you motivated. I first ran across his Twitter account earlier this year, and it made me want to jump up and start my own business.
If you’ve ever felt down on yourself or thought, “Shucks, running a business is tough!” this might be the account for you to follow. He has genuine words of wisdom for business owners, but I’m definitely more drawn to his upbeat attitude toward life.
Waking up on a Monday and running to what you have to and want to do is a blessing, please if that’s not you, BREAK your patterns 🌼💪🏽❤
— Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) April 17, 2017
Shama is the founder of Marketing Zen and a great place to find insights into small business marketing. She’s also one of the younger (possibly the youngest?) people on this list, which can be a real boon for businesses made up of older founders.
Having a line to the younger generation is a smart thing to set up and you should be listening to this demographic. If they’re not your target demo right now, they will be in a few years. Shama is a good one to listen to.
16 Invaluable Guidelines for Managing Social Media Comments https://t.co/hUwMYkGABj
— Shama Hyder (@Shama) April 12, 2017
Whaaaat? An eighth entry on the seven-entry list and it just happens to be our brand Twitter account? I have no idea how that got in here.
But, seriously, we’re pretty good about keeping you up to date on technology trends and small business happenings. We’ve been in the business of helping businesses for almost 20 years, and we love connecting with new folks. Plus, sometimes we tweet articles that I’ve written, which makes me smile.
— Capterra (@Capterra) April 18, 2017
Find a group you trust
These folks will tweet, and you’ll like it or you’ll hate it, and then you can figure out if they’re for you. Maybe they’ll retweet someone else, and you’ll jump over and find a new influencer to help change your business.
Who are you following? Drop a line in the comments to let me know where you get your best business advice. Good luck.