Establishing a Serious Online Business by Ditching the Search For a “Magic Bullet”

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 outpace 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 themselves.
· In these economic times, a lot of fear exists. Small businesses are cutting costs.
· Many who are looking to get on line 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 on line 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 outpace 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.