Thursday, February 14, 2008

SEO is #4 for Top Technologies for Small Businesses

Before we start telling you about these top 5 technologies, I want to make it clear these are my opinion, and not based on research institute of small business administration or the US Chamber of commerce. Last week I read the state of the small business report from the US Chamber published recently, and it was too long and not helpful. I think small businesses like all businesses have similar challenges 346602_shopping_cart_photo-blog.jpgof efficiency, lack of financial resources, lack of people resources and lack of time. If technology could help them, they would love to use it, but if it’s not easy to use, they will not! We think every one should use technology to help them, not just online businesses.

They are not usually very tech savvy, and don’t have huge corporate arms training them on the latest version of Powerpoint, word or the sales force automation tools. If you don’t know this, 715774_exploring_from_sxc_b2b-photo-blog.jpglarge corporations spend billions of dollars a year training their employees on technology tools. In my professional opinion small businesses have a major disadvantage here. I use to work for Gartner Group’s learning division where I have 2 years of experience in the online business and corporate technology training area with large and small organizations. Bottom line is that today, small businesses can compete with large companies because of simple technology initiatives and tools available. You no longer need to work for a large company to have similar online tools, or be an online business. Look at Google, they just announced a suite of applications for small businesses, read the Boston Herald articled linked at the end of this blog. But here are the top 5 technology tools all small businesses should utilize to grow, why not use the advantages that online businesses use?815597_comprando_photo-blog.jpg

1. Mobile email device, such as a blackberry is a must. You shouldn’t have to go back to your computer and go check email, you should be busy spending time with your customers, employees, and suppliers. Do not check email back at the computer, and waste your time. Instead Save time, by using a blackberry or something similar, check email and send email from any where any time. I am a blackberry user of over 7 years now, there is nothing better, yes I have tried Plam and Treo products. It’s important to remember, You don’t have to check your email all the time, or respond to all of your emails all at once. Have some self control folks! You should be out and about doing your business, and check it when you have a moment. Do not set it to buzz every time you get an email. Control your time, save time, and be connected, not be a mess. There is no better tool for small businesses or actually any online business or not, than a mobile email via blackberry. 863240_shopping_bags_online_business_photo-blog.jpg
2. Having a business blog is a must! And you should be using a free business blogging system such as Blogger.com, Wordpress.com or MyTypes.com, as those blogs get indexed by Google every day. What does that mean, and Why you say? This whole website and company is based on blogging, and we wanted to develop a business blogging platform that had built in SEO for you. Blogs are the #1 way to promote your businesses on line, because search engines such as Google consider them news, you need to blog about your specific products and services and generally what is going on about your businesses regularly. 912245_queen_of_shopping_photo-blog.jpg

3. You need a website ( or blog site ) with a custom Domain, that has your professional representation with a custom design for you. First thing we recommend is that if you have the money, you hire a custom html web designer and have it done. Next best thing is for you to find a industry based solution, one with templates already built in for you. For example in the real estate or mortgage industry there are specific solutions, and there is so much specific content and application tools, that one really has to consider those solutions first. Next for a blogsite, in addition to your website or within your URL. For example: blog.MyWebsite.com, Great place to start is Wordpress.com or Wordpress.org. Ask your tech person for help, if they don’t know about these tools, have them take a look for find another tech person.

To find a tech person, If your needs are custom and complex you may want to look at Joomla.org or Drupal.org to find a great solution. These systems have thousands of programmers that know them very well, and they are totally free to use, you don’t have to pay in licensing fees at all, or give them your code. Chances are you are not very technical, so go to one of those communities websites and hire a programmer for about $2k or less you should get a full Joomla or drupal based site custom designed for you. All of the tools such as blogs, templates, shopping cart, and online business needs should be there for you. Best of all they are free, this new wave of Open Source technologies really is changing the world. 914374_buying_a_book_photo-blog.jpg

4. Learn about SEO (which stands for Search Engine Optimization), Online business marketing. It’s not just about mail marketing with news letters, SEO, blogs and Google Adwords based Search Engine Marketing are key to help you target key customers. Again there are many great resources on the web, including our SEO blogs and main blogging and SEO blogs coaching areas from the front page of our website at MyTypes.com.

5. Join an online businesses community such as a Barter system at ITEX.com. Why should small businesses join any online business communities, especially active one’s like Barter networks? No man is an island, neither is a women, or are any businesses. We all need each other to succeed, businesses need customers, suppliers, employees, not just owners:-). There are number of challenges and situations that you may want to get advice on. The chances are there are owners of businesses out there that have dealt with those issues, and often times they want to help you. You may have some advice that may help them, this is what online businesses communities do in an efficient time saving way. Barter services company like ITEX also have an online marketplace, such as eBay. eBay has been immensely popular due to it’s online business community of checks and balances of buyers and sellers. It almost forces you to have references, and that gives businesses credibility, and makes them more successful. woman_photo-blog_525119_shopping_1.jpg

Bonus technology advice, you probably use Quick books to manage your books via your accountant already. If not, you should have a book keeper accountant do that, but you should use the online version of QuickBooks, not just the desktop. This way, your accountant can work remotely, yes you can just mail them your receipts, save time, save hassle!

Technology usage to grow your small businesses is not just about being efficient, it’s about saving you time so that you can spend it with your clients, employees, friends and family. Remember relationships are usually the most important things in life, especially the friends and family kind. If you treat your customers and employees like family, which most successful businesses do, you will succeed. And, our technology advice above is catered to help you do just that. Yes you can!

Here is Google’s free applications article promised earlier:

Google releases new online software for businesses in latest swipe at Microsoft - BostonHerald.com

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