The Internet is a powerful tool that can make your business more productive and profitable. Business Link states that when the Internet and email are used effectively, they help you streamline business activities, communicate more efficiently with customers and even generate new customers or clients—all while helping to reduce business expenses.
One core problem facing smaller companies’ growth are the lack the resources. That’s true today as it was 50 years ago. Without capital, small businesses are limited in many important facets needed to facilitate growth.
Without resources, small businesses have to choose between how best to invest their dollars. If you have only so much budgeted to grow; where do you put it? Marketing? Infrastructure? Customer support?
Setting up your business on the Internet can be a lucrative way to attract customers, expand your market and increase sales. Even local coffee shops and dry cleaning operations can create inexpensive online advertisements to target local audiences. These advertisements can announce special events your company is sponsoring, contests, and special sales or discounts. In some online advertisement areas, you can even promote goodwill with potential customers by having a “Happy Birthday” advertisement display to them on their birthday.
Using Internet resources for your business can reduce or eliminate the need for traditional postal mailing and all of the costs associated with that contact method. The Internet makes it easy to stay in contact with your customers via email and online networking tools such as discussion boards, chat rooms, and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc.
Using Internet communication tools effectively, you can keep up a continuous dialogue with customers and prospects. The Small Business Association (SBA) explains that even small mom-and-pop shops can generate additional business with a no-frills website and by posting in newsgroups. You can send special offers and announcements to existing customers via email, send links to your online catalog when a new product is released, or post virtual coupons via social networking sites.
The SBA explains that Internet Application Service Providers (ASPs) provide a variety of ready-made applications to help you run day-to-day operations in your business. These Internet services help with finance management, inventory control and human resources, allowing you to lower costs while also reducing the time and labor force needed to run the business.
ASPs help with streamlining customer support requests as well. Providing online product documentation and frequently asked questions, for example, enables your customers to get support 24 hours a day without engaging a customer service representative. When an employee’s help is needed, Internet tools can help route the service request to the appropriate department and log the progress of resolved or unresolved issues for future reference.