Get Your Business Online -- Now!
By Lori Olson

As hard as this may seem to believe,
the Internet is still in its infancy.  Even
though it has become woven into every aspect of our lives, it really has not been
around that long.  Consider that Google only arrived on the scene 10 years ago.  

Also consider that 50% of small businesses still do not even have an online presence.  

Many small businesses that have websites in realty have little more than on line
business cards.  They are simply are not knowledgeable about what the full
functionality of a powerful web presence can do for them.  

Clearly, this will not stay this way much longer.  Web 2.0 and social media is
shortening the message.  More and more small businesses are starting to get it.  The
ones who start taking action now will gain an enormous advantage over those who
delay.  They will be able to grab competitive key words and gain market shares in
their niches.  This will become harder and harder as it becomes more and more
obvious that all small business needs to be on line.

Yes, a great window of opportunity exists right now for small business to out pace
their competition on line, yet many small businesses are being slow to take action.

What seems to be the reason behind this?

- It may seem strange to those who are Internet savvy, but many small business owners
simply lack knowledge as to what to do.  

- Small business owners are wearing too many hats and cannot find the time to do it

- In these economic times, a lot of fear exists.  Small businesses are cutting costs.  

- Many who are looking to get online do not recognize that there are real steps to
establish an online presence.  They think ranking well in the search engines is either
luck or the result of a "get rich quick" scheme.

Small businesses that let these obstacles stand in the way of getting on line will be in
the unfortunate position of having to catch up.  Those who start now will be in the lead
and will be hard to catch.

So let's examine each of these obstacles to taking action.

It is incumbent upon any small business owner to keep abreast of the latest trends in
order to stay relevant in any given industry.  No doubt about it, the pursuit of relevant
industry knowledge is an important part of the small business equation.  Knowledge
is necessary to make informed decisions.  It is not necessary to develop the expertise in
order to implement the changes.  Small business owners need to be working
on their
businesses not
in them.

This leads us to the "wearing too many hats" obstacle.  

Small business owners who implement systems to automate business processes by
using customer relationship management systems (CRM) for example will be better
off.  Doing this will allow them to find the time to seek knowledge and stay current in
their industries.  Professionals who already have the expertise to implement online
strategies are the most effective for getting the job done in terms of time, energy and
money.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel or add another hat on the small
business head.

In these tough times, it does make sense to cut as many small business expenses as
possible.   But even in these tough times, it never makes sense to cut down on
marketing.  The only marketing that should ever be cut is that which is ineffective and
not giving a decent ROI.  In order to know this, marketing activities should be tracked.  

Small businesses who are hunkering down in fear and cutting marketing along with
their prices are setting themselves up for a really tough climb back; assuming they
survive at all.  

The fact that so many businesses are behaving this way means that those businesses
that keep marketing will far out pace the pack.  This applies to those who take action
to market their businesses with a professional online presence.  A professional web
site that is optimized for user experience as well as search engine spiders will begin to
generate traffic that converts prospects to customers.  

Money that is spent on building an online presence is really an investment in the
business.  Unlike money spent on print advertising which is destined to the trash or
recycle bin, money spent on line builds a foundation that doesn't go away.

Finally, small businesses need to understand that search engine optimization
techniques (SEO), pay per click campaigns (PPC) and other search engine marketing
strategies are legitimate and highly sophisticated.   

A lot of expertise is required to design a user friendly site that is optimized for a top
notch search marketing campaign.  Many of the required activities are very labor
intensive.  It is unreasonable to expect results overnight.   

Therefore, it must be recognized that there is no "magic bullet" solution for getting
found on line.  It certainly is not luck either.  Any company that does appear on a page
one search engine results page (SERP) has clearly done its homework.   

Since this is the case, clearly it makes sense for small businesses before their
competition does.  The sooner this happens, the better.

About the author: Lori Olson has a passion for helping small businesses develop strong online
presences with a team of 250 professionals who analyze & implement SEO, SEM, PPC
Campaign Mgmt, Social Media,Copy Writing & Web Development strategies which are
customized to fit any needs, wants & budget.  
Update Small Business also provides leading edge
employee & sales assessment & training; & CRM solutions.

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