After spending my whole career—one way or another—in the business development field and being a bit crazy about the subject, I continually find many little things businesses could be doing to improve their results. Recently, I was searching for a local contractor, so I began to scroll through my local chamber of commerce’s website. Immediately, I noticed many missed opportunities on the part of quite a few local businesses though, fortunately most of these problems are easily remedied. Many of these remedies can immediately benefit a business in a pretty large way.
The most commonly missed opportunity I noticed was when a company would not have an e-mail contact or any website information with their company listing. If you truly wish to compete in challenging economic markets, your business needs to be, at the least, technologically competent. There is no acceptable reason in 2009 for a business not to have an e-mail address. Having e-mail allows businesses to open themselves up to anyone who wants to communicate electronically.
Another overlooked, yet important tool is to put your website and e-mail information on places like your business cards or within your store. You pay rent for the store, why not put up sign advertising for your website at the register or on the door as you walk in? Almost anywhere you display the name of your company, add your internet contact information. Likewise, if you’re going to go through the effort of registering with your local chamber, why not take advantage of their services and put as much information in the listing as you can? It seems like an obvious thing to do, but after a recent look at my local chamber, I saw otherwise.
A website can do wonders for a business. Personally, I will always look at a business website before I take the time to meet with them or drive to their store. There is no point in driving across town (or further) to go to a store that could possibly not carry anything close to what you are looking for. Granted, not all of us are computer savvy, and setting up a website and an e-mail account may not be a natural thing for some of us to do. E-mail services are offered through Google (Gmail), Yahoo (Yahoo Mail), and Microsoft (Hotmail & Live), among hundreds of others, for free. Also, there are online services that provide users with effective, professional website templates to get you online with minimal effort. Yahoo offers Site Builder, a free and easy-to-use web design tool. The technology is developed for those who do not know how to design a website, so they have made it extremely simple to get a grasp of the basics. There should be nothing stopping you from taking thirty minutes sometime this week to get you and your company on the World Wide Web. If you are scarce on time or if technology sends shivers down your spine, you will likely find someone willing to help with this project. Who doesn’t “know a guy” or “know a kid” who is able to work very quickly to set you up with the basics of what you need? If you don’t, I am sure someone in your network “knows a guy”.
Being “open for business” isn’t just about technological competence. Some businesses did not even have their phone number available! As my last option before physically going to the store, I will call to see if the store has a particular item that I’m looking for before I drive there. The chamber’s website is there to aid in developing your business, but you have to use the multitude of tools available to help yourself. When given the option between two competitors, wouldn’t you choose the company that takes the time to add all of the details to their contact information and uses every avenue of contact to tell prospects they are “open for business”?
Chris Mahlmann is the founder, CEO, and publisher of the LIFE networks and has developed the industry standard for connecting people with all that is positive in their community. Visit Chris on Google Plus, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.