Growing a Business Online
by Karen Mills, Former SBA Administrator
- Created: January 10, 2011, 10:26 am
- Updated: May 16, 2011, 5:50 pm
Part of the reason we rolled out the new SBA.gov and our new SBA social media tools is that we know that small business owners themselves are going online in order to grow their business. These days, a strong online presence is a “must,” even for the smallest shops on Main Street.
That’s why SBA recently partnered with Google to put more online tools in the hands of small business owners.
In fact, one-fifth of Google searches are related to location. That means people often go to their computer or smartphone first when making decisions about where to go, what to do, and which products and services to buy.
With that in mind, we rolled out a series of tutorials, video testimonials, and tips from savvy small business people who have used the web to become more efficient, more cost-effective, and more successful. Here’s the Tools for Online Success site, and I’m embedding the first testimonial, which is about a salon that needed to take the first step to establish their presence online:
I’ll leave you with four quick tips for small business owners looking to leverage the web:
Establish your online presence. Most local online listings like Yelp and Google Places are free. If your business doesn’t have a website, there are ready-made templates and free hosting services that make establishing an online presence easy.
Use free marketing to reach customers. You can build a fan base with free services like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter that keep your customers in-the-know about new products, specials, and promotions. This is the modern day version of “word-of-mouth.”
Know your customers. Easy-to-use analytics tools can tell you a lot about why people go to your website and which of your web pages they like the most. This can help you make smart decisions about what you feature on your site and which search terms you should emphasize if and when you buy online ads.
Keep an eye on the latest trends. The growing popularity of smartphones means that more and more customers are searching for local information on-the-go. It’s important that your online presence is accurate and up-to-date. You can give users driving directions and even post digital coupons.
We at the SBA look forward to growing our own online presence as you grow yours.
About the Author
Karen Gordon Mills is the Former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA helps both Main Street and high-growth small businesses get access to capital, counseling, federal contracts, disaster assistance and more.
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