Online and E-commerce for Your Small Business

social-media-graphicsThe answer is, “Yes, your small business needs to be online.”

That means having an online presence and considering e-commerce operations. E-commerce typically means selling products online but I tend to think of it as something bigger. There are service companies that allow you to schedule your appointments online. And paying your bill has long been an available online activity.

If you are like many small business owners, you first need to understand your options and then select and put one or more options into action. To help you with this, Extension across the country has developed resources for you. Check with your local Extension office.

You can also check out the powerofbusiness.net website. Information on these topics can be found in several locations including our blog, the archived “live chats,” in the “tips” section, and in past issues of the newsletter.  And don’t forget to check out the three online marketing free workbooks found right on the front page.

Another useful site is the National e-Commerce Extension Initiative. A variety of short information briefs are there to introduce you to various online possibilities.

Examples of the kind of help Extension provides include:

So as we close in on a new year, make this your year for starting and expanding your online presence. 

Adding Facebook to Your Marketing

The use of online marketing tools is rapidly growing.  And the largest, and still growing, is Facebook.

If you haven’t thought about how online marketing can be a part of your world, you need to take action. The time to think about it is over.  Oh, not everyone needs to be online but the list of who might not benefit is getting smaller and smaller.

Facebook is the largest player in this arena. James Barnes, Assistant Professor, Mississippi State University Extension, is actively studying it, along with it capacity to place Facebook ads.

Watch the First Friday chat as James talks about the experiences of companies he has assisted in using Facebook and Facebook Ads. Listen to the stories and tips he shares. And check out his program, Mississippi Bricks to Clicks.”

 

You can also find short informational briefs James has prepared at:

Barnes, J. and K. Coatney. 2015. “Facebook ‘Farming’ for Rural Organizations“, The Daily Yonder: Keep It Rural, March 30th.

Barnes, J. and K. Coatney. 2014. “Regional Economic Development and Marketing Rural Tourism Events Using Facebook: The Woodville Deer and Wildlife Case“, Mississippi State University Extension, Publication 2855.

Barnes, J. 2014. “Social Media Marketing: Facebook”, National eCommerce Extension Initiative, eBiz: Tips for Marketing Your Business, Southern Rural Development Center.

Make sure your marketing plans are reaching your intended audiences. Today that includes Facebook and other online tools.

Cybersecurity and Your Small Business

If you have a small business, you are faced with a a cybersecurity risk.

Cybersecurity is not one of the catchy topics that small business owners often plan for in their business. Yet sixty percent of small businesses end up shutting the doors if they end up with a data breach. Think of all your hard work that is quickly lost.

Plus more and more of security breaches, now just over 70%, are targeted at small businesses. One of the reasons is,  unlike bigger companies, small businesses spend less time and money on trying to ensure such things don’t happen.

Mary Peabody, University of Vermont, and Steve Hadcock, Cornell, discussed these issues during the October Friday Chat, Why Hackers Love Your Small Business.

In the chat you will hear them talk about how a small business owner can protect themselves, doing business with other firms who might be hacked and how that might affect your business, and password software.

Mary shares two online resources:

It’s important that you plan your online security as well as how you will respond if it happens to you.

So grab a cup of coffee and take 15 minutes to protect your small business and your investment. 

PS – Next month we will offer more resources plus discuss how you can protect your customers information. Sign up at: http://powerofbusiness.net/ 

Being Effective Online

Online tipsHaving an effective online presence is as important as simply being online.

Being online will bring some likes and friends, but that  activity will come from people who already know you or from your family and friends. What you want is an online presence that creates awareness of your business, or educational efforts in our case, and keeps that customer coming back for more. The goal is to make your customer a lifetime ambassador for your business.

Part of our Power of Business effort has been to get first-hand experience on reaching those goals. This video is a first report on our initial efforts as we develop platforms and writing titles that sell. Examples of what we learned are shared plus you get a peek at the on-going effort where we look at the power of Facebook and the Facebook ad.

Online is huge and it matters. Getting found though is often the issue. Just today I read that 2 million blog posts are put online each day. Add that to all of the tweets, posts, pictures, and videos posted, you can see why you need to focus on being efficient and effective in your online efforts.

In the video various types of content formats are discussed. Here at Power of Business we curate content, offer videos, do our monthly chats, provide some short fact sheets, and, of course, our blog.

Admittedly getting online is a scary undertaking. This is where a team can help you out as can a personal learning network. Dipping your toe into the online world may mean finding people you can learn from. There is nothing wrong with lurking and learning.  In time, you can begin to ask questions.

An effective online presence means you need to write, think and act differently. People want information quickly and they are typically focused on one problem at a time. You also need to offer some fun and flair. At times you may feel more like an entertainer than an educator. You also need to be flexible and be able to change quickly.

So get online. Engage and network with your customer base. Enhance their online experience. It builds your bottom line!!

Find the Powerpoint slides here at “Are We Entrepreneurs?”