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Business.com's New Year's Resolutions for Small Businesses

Business.com provides a practical list of resolutions for the small business owner who has vowed to embrace online opportunities in í06.

Know your message and how you want to be seen by the user. To develop a strong brand, your companyís key benefits must be reinforced on your website. Revamping your site in the New Year can yield better results and conversions. Keep it simple, clean and search-engine friendly. A brand should reflect key services and benefits, and encourage visitors to take an action. Do you want the user to download a file, call your offices, request a quote, register or actually make a purchase? Consider a brand management consultant for guidance, such as eWork Markets, at www.eworkmarkets.com.

The Internet provides an unprecedented opportunity to create new markets and expand beyond local areas, allowing you to replicate your success nationwide, or even globally. But, to get the business customers must know youíre there. Online campaigns to increase visibility, and email communications to maintain a dialogue with customers will have a dramatic effect on your results. Search Engine Optimization will ensure you appear on search engines that reach your audience (consumer, B2B, wholesale). Enhance your natural rankings on top search engines with ViPSEM at www.vipsem.com.

Instead of buying mailing lists, consider purchasing emailing lists. Itís faster, cheaper, and provides potential customers an easy way to share their thoughts - crucial to growing your business. Be sure the broker youíre using is up to date on all spam laws and can explain the value of various kinds of email marketing campaigns. Consider Estrela Marketing for exclusive opt-in email marketing and tracking at www.estrelamarketing.net

Employers must work hard to attract and retain talented people. The internet provides new ways to advertise your openings, match skill sets, train your staff and even run background checks. Online job boards and recruiting software such as from RESUMate, Inc. at www.resumate.com, can keep you ahead of the HR game. You can recruit, screen and hire top local talent at local career fairs from CareerBuilder.com. Pre-employment background checks and criminal background checks are available at Accurate Information Systems at www.accurateinformationsystems.com.

One can break the bank buying equipment and software. Be careful to invest in the basics, such as a solid database to streamline your business. Make sure you can track both your customers as well as your inventory. Start with whatís simple, but donít rule out more sophisticated products and services like Radio Frequency Tags which allow you to track your products online and live. Automation equipment, software and supplies will also support inventory control. Consider Scanplanet.com Inventory Management for asset tracking, barcode scanners and printers at www.scanplanet.com. Enable RFID shipping with CMS Consultants at www.cmsconsultants.com. Meridian IQ: E-Logistics Management provides supply chain solutions with customized solutions at www.meridianiq.com.

Your current accounting system may demand too much administration time. By moving your budget online and doing some serious forecasting, you will gain reporting tools and insight that help you direct your organizationís success. Accounting and budgeting software will help streamline accounting, purchasing, sales, inventory, and other tasks. Try OutlookSoft for business performance software at www.outlooksoft.com.

Your business can only succeed if you collect all money owed to you Ė spend your time making money, not trying to collect it. You may want to consider software that will automate the billing process and keep you organized, or even insurance to cover you should clients not pay. Cougar Mountain Software provides accounts receivable software to monitor customer activity, receive payments, evaluate a customer's payment performance, and generate reports.
www.cougarmtn.com

In the New Year, itís important to focus on increasing productivity and efficiencies. You may need to spend money to make money, but you must be able to account for every penny spent in order to understand where your investments should be made. There are products and services that will allow you to track online conversions, incoming calls, and even measure your customer or potential costumersí behavior. With Infosurv, you can survey your customers to better understand their needs, at www.infosurv.com. Campaign tracking software, such as Atlas One Point at www.atlasonepoint.com, can help you to monitor advertising successes, and offers reporting services and software.

The once difficult task of keeping up on trends and networking has been made easier by the internet. Whether you need industry news or wish to chat with others in your field, you can now do this with just a fraction of the time. You may wish to invest in market research newsletters and services. For a fee, you can search a vast area of business areas to find information so valuable it can change your companyís strategy. ShopperTrak provides retail intelligence solutions about consumer behavior at www.shoppertrak.com.

You know what they say about all work and no play. Donít forget the importance of seeing the world refreshed and from a new perspective Ė consider adding a few days of pleasure onto a business trip. You can find everything you need, from flights to hotels and convention centers, online and often at a discount. Search for flights at OAG Flights at www.OAGflights.com, a flight tool for frequent business travelers.



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