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Navigating the Digital Landscape: Building Your Small Business Online

The Internet has a vast array of tools that small business can utilize in helping to build a brand and sell products and services. But with technology changing at breakneck speed and such a huge list of options available on the web, sometimes it's difficult to know where to spend business capital, time, and energy.

Unless your small business has a particular specialization that requires otherwise, it's best to cover the basics first and build out from there. By basics, we mean first establishing a clean, clear presence for your business, usually by way of a website. From there, adding social media and blog connectivity is a snap. If you want your website to be more than just a modern day yellow page listing, you should plan to have an accessible content management that someone within the company can use to update the website and keep it relevant.

After that, do you need an app? Well, many business owners are feeling the pressure these days to create a web app, but this may or may not be a good use of resources. Think about how your customers would benefit from the app and whether it can be created in a way that brings in extra revenue. If the app concept passes this test, you're ready to proceed. If it isn't quite so clear how an app will increase revenue and broaden the customer base, perhaps you should wait.

For those with an existing website and those planning to create a new one, make sure to budget for responsive web design so that your site will perform as ell on smartphones and tablets as it does on desktops and laptops. The user public is split at this point, with the mobile users gaining more of the market share each day. Make sure your site is ready to be viewed by as many devices as possible.

Finally, make sure not to skimp on hosting. You get what you pay for, and while it may be enticing to go with a cheap, national host, you often get less available bandwidth, dodgy customer service, fewer backups, and less access to your data. There is a big difference in navigating a technical crisis with a local company versus one based in parts unknown.

There are other ways to go, and each business should be handled individually for optimal results, but this provides a baseline from which to begin. The Internet provides many opportunities, and the exciting prospects are waiting to be met by small businesses that plan wisely and execute smart strategies.