Tuesday, August 24, 2010 | 12:00 PM
When first starting a business, everything is new and different. So what are the first things you need to do to turn your vision into reality? This process can be a bit intimidating -- and unnecessarily resource-consuming -- without the right tools and guidance.
Through a complementary suite of services, Google aims to help small businesses like yours navigate this uncharted territory. So as your business goes through the three phases of getting up and running, getting online and getting in front of customers, think of our products as tools designed to help you on your journey to success!
Run Your Business with Google Apps
Google Apps helps small businesses get up and running with email, calendaring, instant messaging, document, spreadsheets and presentations, site creation and video. The applications are hosted by Google, so you can just turn them on and get to work quickly. With this cloud computing approach, you don't need to worry about installing, maintaining or upgrading software, and you always have access to the latest technology. You can also use any device: PC, Mac, Linux, Android or iPad, if it has a web browser and a connection to the Internet you can access your information from anywhere. This is particularly helpful for people who need to work from various locations, like their office, home and car.
The cost savings are compelling, especially when you're on a tight budget: cloud computing is about 1/10th of the cost of on-premises software. It's also more secure than storing data on laptops and USB keys that are easily lost or stolen. But the biggest advantage of Google Apps is hardest to quantify: increased productivity through easier collaboration. Employees often work in teams, with colleagues in various locations. Web applications make it possible for them to share documents and files without attachments or version control issues because everything's online and up to date. They can also collaborate together in real time, which makes work more efficient. For more information, check out this video series on getting started with Google Apps.
Get Online with Google Places
Google Places offers an easy way to establish and maintain an online presence even if you don’t have a website. It allows business owners to add a brand new listing to Google's local database, or to edit their existing listing that appears for free when potential customers search for them on Google.com or Google Maps.
By ensuring that basic information - like your business name, location, hours of operation and phone number - is up-to-date, customers can quickly and easily find you online. And with the option to provide additional details - such as photos, videos and coupons - business owners can stand out on the map to attract more customers. You can also edit and check your info at any time to discover how many people have seen and clicked on your free listing.
Promote Your Business with AdWords
AdWords is Google’s online advertising program that acts as a matchmaking service between businesses and customers. AdWords ads are displayed along with search results when someone searches Google using one of your keywords. That way, you'll be advertising to an audience that's already interested in your business.
No matter your budget, you'll only pay when people click your ads, and there's no minimum monthly charge with AdWords. Ad performance tracking reports are built right into your account, so you can tell what's working and what needs improving.
We look forward to providing additional tips and tricks for your small business on this blog, and hope these help to get you started. So what are you waiting for? Get your business going, establish your online presence and promote your business using any of our tools that you find helpful. Good luck!
Posted by Kat Eller, Small Business Blog Team