There are plenty of popular business-advice websites that make it on these kinds of “best of” lists, but I wanted to take a different approach. The problem with many of the popular sites is that they often offer little more than fluff pieces that don’t actually help you improve your business. They’ll share entrepreneur success stories, but the details of how exactly they achieved that success is frequently vague and unhelpful.
That’s why I put together this list to provide you with some lesser known blogs that do a great job of providing actionable advice that you can follow to grow your business. Take a look at who made it on the list below, and if you have any more to suggest, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
1. The Naive Optimist | RyanCarson.com
As the CEO and co-founder of Treehouse, an online tech school that teaches people how to make apps, Ryan Carson has a lot of great insight on running a startup. He recently wrote an in-depth, multi-part blog series on the impact of working with remote employees and no managers.
Ryan has a contagious passion for what he’s doing, and he’s willing to share the details of his successes and failures along the way.
The current Sweet Process “blog” is little more than updates of their podcast episodes, but I’m not complaining. The weekly episodes feature interviews with small business owners who have learned something about running their business and are willing to share that education with you. Subscribe to the podcast, or check out the blog posts that recap each episode. You’re bound to find something of value.
3. Big Brand System | Pamela Wilson
The Big Brand System blog is where marketing and design converge to make your business better. When Pamela Wilson isn’t busy as the Director of Special Projects at Copyblogger Media, she’s offering solid tips to improve your brand design and marketing strategy, often at the same time.
Don’t miss her updates. You will learn something.
4. The Smart Passive Income Blog | Pat Flynn
If you haven’t encountered Pat Flynn yet, you’re in for a treat. Pat Flynn is a self-described “crash-test dummy” when it comes to entrepreneurial ventures. Nearly every step he takes to grow his website, podcast, and brand is documented on his blog.
Every month, he reports the income from his efforts, just so you can see exactly what is working and what isn’t. Pat’s level of transparency is a rarity, but it’s all in an effort to spread knowledge and educate others who want to jump into running their own business.
Marketing and Sales
5. A Smart Bear | Jason Cohen
Jason Cohen is the founder of the WPEngine and Smart Bear Software. His blog publishing is few and far between, but that just makes it all the more special when you see a new post. Head over to A Smart Bear for his thoughts on startups and marketing, from a decidedly geeky point of view.
6. Hack & Hustle | Close.io
Close.io is a sales platform, so they’ve focused their blog content to specifically help you improve your sales strategies. Whether it’s beefing up your cold-calling tactics, better qualifying leads, or closing strong, there is a lot of straightforward advice to learn from here.
A nice touch: the folks at Close.io often produce short videos that get straight to the point, add a touch of personality, and let you move on with your day.
7. IttyBiz | Naomi Dunford & Dave Navarro
Naomi and Dave have a really down-to-earth approach to the topic of business development and marketing. They’ve been offering training courses and consulting services since 2006, but by their blog, you’d never guess it, and I mean that in the best way possible.
Their published posts have an uncanny way of making you feel like they wrote the post just for you, not thousands of others. In addition to great advice, their updates also include a very organic homegrown personality to them, which makes it relatable and less daunting to consider putting it into practice.
8. Duct Tape Marketing | John Jantsch
John Jantsch is a good friend of ours at Bplans, and I wish I could tell you everyday to go visit his Duct Tape Marketing blog, but this will have to do.
If you’re looking for an endless stream of tools and advice to improve your business across the board, be sure to check out Duct Tape Marketing. Don’t be fooled by the name. The site expands beyond marketing and spills over into other areas of business growth. John’s “Weekend Favs” posts are worth the visit alone, but you’ll find plenty more to keep you there.
9. Brand Autopsy | John Moore
John Moore is another successful author and speaker whom you might have already heard of, but his blog on marketing strategies is just too good to pass up here.
He’s worked for Starbucks Coffee and Whole Foods Market, which has afforded him with a deep understanding of what ignites passionate responses from avid customers. Check it out for some great customer-centered advice for your business.
Case Studies and Interviews
10. The First Round Review | First Round Capital
The team at First Round Capital describes their blog as “a blend of stories and actionable advice. The Review delivers premium insights from the best and most creative entrepreneurs in the business.”
They make good on their promise. Each post is a well-crafted case study that dives deep into the experience of startups and entrepreneurs. Never failing to deliver a takeaway, you’re guaranteed to find at least one thing that you can put into practice to grow your business.
11. Mixergy | Andrew Warner
With over 1,000 interviews on the site, it’s possible that this website has crossed well over into the mainstream knowledge of entrepreneurs and business owners, but if not, then you can thank me for the introduction.
The concept of Mixergy is relatively simple in its promise and execution: interviews with well-known entrepreneurs and business experts. The website also offers a premium subscription level that offers more interviews and training courses, but the free interviews offer plenty of value in and of themselves. They even have an interview with our very own Tim Berry.
12. OkDork | Noah Kagan
Noah Kagan is familiar with the corporate world, having worked previously at Intel, Facebook, Mint.com, and Microsoft. Now he runs AppSumo.com, a website that promotes tools and content for entrepreneurs. He’s well connected, as is demonstrated by his many guest blog contributors, and his unique personality makes his informative blog posts fun to read too.
When Noah’s not talking about his love for tacos, you’ll find helpful tips on starting and improving your business, instead of sitting on the side lines waiting for things to happen.
13. ThinkEntrepreneurship | Pete Sveen
Pete Sveen is an entrepreneur in Montana. His blog at ThinkEntrepreneur is not as prolific as others on this list, but when he does publish a post or podcast, it’s usually on point and worth checking out.
14. EOS Blog | EOS Worldwide
EOS Worldwide is a website that provides tools and resources for entrepreneurs and startups. The EOS blog provides real-world examples of businesses that are doing things right, and advice on how to scale up your business, among other things. With multiple authors and contributors, you’re sure to get a well-rounded perspective on how to grow your business.
15. The Art of Ass-Kicking | Jason Shen
Every couple of weeks or so, Jason Shen will take a break from his busy career as marketing manager at Percolate to drop some knowledge. Just from the title of his blog, you know that Jason is a whirlwind of activity, and passionate about what he does. Thankfully, he’s just as passionate about passing on what he’s learned as he is about getting things done.
Read his blog to learn more about Software as a Service (SaaS) and startups, among many other things.
When you head over to EntreLeadership, you’re not just entering a blog, you’re stepping into an ecosystem. EntreLeadership is a community of respected thought-leaders and first-timers working together to help each other succeed.
Whether you’re watch the coaching tip of the day, listening to the podcast episodes, joining the book club, or discussing your own experiences in the forum, you’ll have a really hard time leaving the website without having learned several things along the way.
17. AVC’s MBA Mondays | Fred Wilson
Fred Wilson is a widely known blogger and Venture Capitalist who’s been publishing posts daily since 2003. So, while his presence on this list may be a little perplexing, it’s only because you need to know about one thing, and one thing only: MBA Mondays.
These posts don’t occur every Monday—in fact, the last one happened in March, so I’m not even sure if Fred’s going to continue writing them. Even still, the archive is a treasure of high quality posts that exhibit significant insight into the subject matter and great conversation in the comments. Dig deep. You’ll be glad you did.
18. Both Sides of the Table | Mark Suster
Both Sides of the Table comes from former startup entrepreneur and now Venture Capitalist, Mark Suster. He has a unique perspective as someone who has spent time pitching to investors for their funding and listening to the pitches of others asking him to invest.
These experiences have given him a broader point of view, which makes his advice on startups, marketing, PR, and sales all the more worthwhile. If you haven’t read through his blog, now’s as good a time as any to check it out.
19. a16z | Andreessen Horowitz
This blog focuses more heavily on tech startups than others on the list (it is a Silicon Valley based venture capital firm, after all), but there’s a lot here that existing business owners can glean when it comes to running a business.
Anytime you jump into the world of Reddit, it feels a bit like Alice in Wonderland, tumbling down the rabbit hole. A democratized approach to content, in which anyone can post just about anything, there’s more than enough to distract you for hours, and it simultaneously represents some of the best and worst of what the internet has to offer. Yet, if you look in the right places, you’ll find communities of people doing some serious good for (and with) each other. Here are a few business-related subreddits worth checking out:
Check out the Entrepreneur subreddit for a fresh stream of conversations about real-life entrepreneurial experiences. From discussions about ad pricing to intellectual property, it’s a smorgasbord of topics and users from various backgrounds. Not every conversation will offer something you can take direct action on, but there’s a good chance you might find a few other business owners who are working through the same problems as you.
The Small Business subreddit is similar to the Entrepreneur subreddit, but you’ll find the conversations are more focused on the actual ins and outs of running a business.
Demonstrating what is perhaps the greatest potential that Reddit has to offer as a website, the EntrepreneurRideAlong is a community of entrepreneurs who are passionate about sharing a lot of details about their ongoing ventures. The concept is that you can hop in the passenger seat and experience real-life entrepreneurship through the eyes of someone who’s in the thick of it.
A great example of this is the recent AMA (ask me anything) that the subreddit’s administrator, localcasestudy, started about his process of purchasing and running a subscription-based service, WetShaveClub.com.
This list was put together with help from members of r/SmallBusiness, r/Entrepreneur, and two members of our Palo Alto Software executive team, Josh Cochrane and Noah Parsons. Special thanks to all of them for their contributions to this list. If you’d like to recommend a blog you regularly visit for its high quality posts, please share it in the comments below!
Correction, Oct. 2, 2014: This article originally listed Piper Larson as a content creator for the Big Brand System blog. Pamela Wilson is solely responsible for the content and direction of the website.