Need to know which Web-based project management platform is the best? Looking for CRM software advice? SEO tips? Still deciding whether to start a small business in the first place?
Sure, you could head over to your favorite search engine and spend the rest of the day digging up an answer. But if you need insight faster than that, one reliable option is Focus.com, a rapidly-growing site for SMBs that offers free how-to's, reports and real-time Q&A with over 5,000 industry experts.
In addition to a wide range of white papers, tech buying guides and research briefs, Focus.com includes a very useful Q&A forum. It's a little like Quora for small businesses, but with designated experts in a variety of fields. In addition to asking or replying to a question, you can opt to "Follow" it and receive follow-up emails each time somebody else chimes in on the thread. Like other Q&A products, individual comments can be voted up or down.
In our test run, we responded to an inquiry about project management software and threw in a follow-up question. Before long, really good responses started rolling in. Since the site is members-only (sign-up is free) and relies heavily on established experts, the conversations tend to be on-topic and rather insightful.
The site's design is clean and intuitive, with nine main sections broken down by discipline, as well as one general "Small Business" landing page. Each section contains the latest guides and briefs, along side the most recent responses to questions in that section. The use of user avatars and down-to-the-minute timestamps give the recent activity stream a social, real-time feel.
Focus.com boasts a recent 260% quarterly increase in its membership, with a total of over 750,000 members. The site, which is free to use, makes money from advertising from eight of the largest tech companies in the world.