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Monday, March 3, 2008

Why Small Businesses Need the Internet

As reported in the February 14, 2008 issue of the New York Times, 36% of small business, defined as companies with less than 100 employees, have a web site. This represents a market that is still yet to fully embrace a medium in which over 231 million people use in North America. The Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, listed the following ways a website benefits a business. They include:
  • It lowers your cost of doing business. Each interaction lowers your cost of handling that transaction off line.
  • Allows business to compete with companies much larger.
  • Brings in new business from other markets.
  • Is open 24/7.
  • Reduced unit costs.
  • Increased sales outside the US.
Other benefits include:
  • Better customer service-being open 24/7 visitors can get their questions or information answered immediately.
  • You can display your entire inventory, (if you sell) without necessarily purchasing it upfront.
  • You can run your business more efficiently. Brochures, product inventory, and marketing communication material can be updated instantly.
  • Credibility is also important. People will ask "what is your web address". Not having one makes your company seem outdated. A poorly designed website, with outdated information, makes your company look even worse.
Yet, there are almost 60% of small business without a website. The costs to obtain one have dramatically decreased over the last several years. For a website to be an effective two way communication channel should have certain key features. They include:
  • The ability to easily update content. Web authoring tools should not require you to learn intricate html code.
  • The ability to create customized forms facilitating capturing visitors' registration, surveys, or other relevant information.
  • An internal database that stores the visitor information for future marketing and communication.
  • The hosting company supplying the service should offer unlimited (free) technical support.
  • If you are going to sell online, e-commerce software that includes a secure shopping cart and online merchant verification.
  • To give you an example, go to www.dmwebsites.net.
Creating and maintaining a website takes time and planning. Many companies provides template driven products. While they are very inexpensive, a little more money will provide a unique experience for your visitors. To reiterate, the web is interactive. Your website should facilitate that two way communication.

Some caution should be noted. Business owners, hard pressed to run their day to day operations, should assign the development and/or maintenance to someone. If that is not possible, wait until you have the time. I also advise, get help from experts.

Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

1 comment:

Dale said...

The internet is one way of making small businesses popular. It's a great idea to show business through the internet.

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