1. Backing up data now translates to no regrets later.Hurricanes, floods, fires—it can be easy to imagine that something awful would never happen to your town and your business. But if you rely on keeping information in a digital format, why would you leave it up to the whims of Mother Nature for you to keep your business documents safe? One of the safest ways to keep your data out of harms way or just to make sure that you have remote backup is to use an online service thats backups up your business on a daily basis. Look for a service that will copy the files you wish to duplicate on its secure servers, encrypting them in the process so only you have access, and they’ll be there after disaster strikes or even if you need to restore the files you accidentily deleted last week.
2. Make it easy to find all your emails and other correspondence.New federal laws in the US have mandated that companies be able to produce emails and other correspondence, such as instant messages, in case of a lawsuit and to support the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley. How can a company manage all the emails and internal communications utilized by its employees for later retrieval? Inboxer is a powerful retrieval software which can search emails and attachments quickly and accurately to find the information your company is needing during an investigation. Take a look at Inboxer.com
3. Communicate with anyone around the world with for free. Do you want to inexpensively and easily communicate with employees on the road or clients in another country? If you have two computers and the Internet, anywhere around the world, you can link them with Skype’s video and voice technology, creating a conversation with the best price—free! The most feature rich client is Skype which offers an array of features including your own phone number with and Skype for Business
4. Forget Windows, go with the penguin. For almost any business owner, choosing Linux over Microsoft’s Windows would save money—Linux is a free operating system. Linux can be programmed to look and feel like Windows, many Windows programs will also work on Linux, and you won’t have to worry about those pesky Windows updates or viruses anymore. For an excellent distribution give Ubuntu a try. The desktop version is an easy way to start with Linux or if you want to try an Enterprise grade desktop check out Suse Desktop.
5. Collaborate on your documents, while backing them up at the same time. Sometimes, two employees may need to work on a project at once. The perfect solution is Google Docs and Spreadsheets, a web-based application which allows users to not only work on documents at the same time, but share them instantly, store them for later use and editing.
6. Word processing… for no expense.. Although popular, Microsoft Word and the many other elements of the Office Suite can be expensive. Unlike Word, Open Office is free and includes all the components that Word does. For word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, Open Office gives the user the same office suite efficiency, at no cost.
7. Fax, without a fax machine.Not only do you not need a fax machine anymore, you’re better off without one. Online fax services such as EFax or my personal favorite for a high volume office Ufax allow you to send faxes online as attached files and receive faxes as email attachments—extremely convenient. Say goodbye to an additional office machine and extra paper clutter.
8. Cut the phone line. Say goodbye to long distance fees charged per minute, fees to make local calls, and paying out the ear for extra lines. All that’s needed these days is an Internet connection, and you’ve got a ready-made phone line already. VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) works over the Internet, is 99.9% indistinguishable in voice quality from the POTS (plain old telephone system) and is much less expensive. For a low monthly fee, you’ll usually receive unlimited calling throughout the United States and Canada, free voicemail and three-way calling, the ability to keep your old phone number, and quite conveniently, the ability to receive voicemails as email attachments. For the home business or very small office a service like Vonage will work out well but for a business grade service and multiple lines take a look at SimpleSignal.com. They offer all the features of a PBX neatly bundled together and they even supply the IP phone.
9. Defeat viruses, once and for all.The highest-rated antivirus software available is Nod32, which set a world record for not missing an “in-the-wild??? virus throughout six years of testing. The runner-up is Avast, which has the further advantage of being free. Forget about paying for antivirus programs that will slow your computer down and not do their job—why bother when the best is available for free?
10. Talk rather than type. Dragon Naturally Speaking is a voice recognition software that will type what you say into an email or document. Use it to transcribe meetings, take notes, compose emails, all without even touching the keyboard. After a short training process, the software is very accurate, along with being fun and ever-so-convenient for those on-the-go moments. OS X has Speech which is a way to navigate and open programs with your voice.
11. Type rather than talk. Sometimes, you may want just the opposite effect—the immediacy of instant messaging rather than a phone call or email. Instant messaging is easy, widely available and convenient. By using a multi-platform messenger such as Gaim or Trillian, you can connect to any messenger network without having to install separate programs.
12. Use free e-press releases. If you are short on funds and need to get the word out you can try a free release service, your results may vary from but there really is no harm if you are not spamming your site. If you have something worthy to say – try free-press-release.com , 24-7pressrelease.com or Pr.com.
13. Ever want to connect to your work computers from somewhere else?. You can, with a powerful software called LogmeIn or GoToMyPc. After installing the program on the computers you want to link, you can access your computer from any other Internet connected machine. Logmein offers a free product that does almost everything that you would need. Feel free to skip out on the $20 per month of the other product.
14. Meeting software can help you become more productive..Software packages such as Go2Meeting, Gatherplace or WebEx work well at connecting employees, even those in different cities or away for trips, and allow them to connect with each other, share, and express ideas.
15. Let your opinions be heard. Blogging about your business and your industry can create an impact with your customers. Your participation in the global community can show them that not only are you actively involved in your industry but that you are not afraid to have your opinions stated and publicly critiqued. Your blog can be hosted on a commercial blog hosting service or using blog software some popular choices are Movable Type, Blogger or LiveJournal
16. Gigabytes of storage, there when you need it. Do you have large, important documents that you may not want to keep on a laptop while traveling or that you want to securely send to someone else? Amazon’s new Simple Storage Service (S3) provides up to gigabytes of storage for low fees, depending on how much storage space you actually use. Just think of the unlimited storage for all your applications and data.
17. Business Cards. Business cards are easy to find online, for competitive prices. Most companies will send out samples if you like, and it’s easy to find reviews of companies to see if they are quality printers. One of the most popular is Vista Print they put their website name on the back of your cards in a light color and you get free cards. What a deal.
18. Monitor your office when no one is there. CCTV surveillance systems are becoming more commonplace as business operators try to protect their investments from break-ins and thefts. Many can be monitored online, making them more convenient than those who run off video tapes. For professional grade equipment peek at Axis or put together a system from GeoVision. You can be anywhere and keep an eye on the store or your office.
19. The power of Quickbooks. With the convenience of multi-platform support and a powerful web interface. Many businesses use QuickBooks to keep track of finances. Make it easier on yourself and your employees by using the online version—it’s accessible from anywhere, it’s easy to use, and two people can use it at once. You can share it with your accountant at her office or you can update it from a hotel on a business trip. QuickBooks Online also continually backs up your data, so a hard drive crash won’t leave you without any of your precious financial data.
20. A dream and a Plan are all you need to succeed. You can find sample business plans, templates, tips and advice galore on the Net. Be wary of any site that has a product to sell. So check out Businessplans.org for some great templaetes.
21. Find an angel to invest in your vision. Between the three F’s (friends, family and fools) and venture capital, business owners can turn to business angels, who are willing to invest amounts between $100,000 and $1 million into businesses in exchange for a share of capital. You can find one by consulting the national association for angel investors. A fantastic place to start is at the Angel Capital Association
22. Find grants for your business.State Grants are a great place to start looking for money. There are many grants available for small businesses at the state, rather than federal, level. About.com provides links to the economic development offices of all 50 states for information on the grants they may provide.
23. Get government contracts. Federal government contracts up for bidding appear on the government’s Fed Biz Opps website. Government contracting is available in all types of sectors and many locations across the US, but most especially in places where a disaster such as a hurricane or flood has occurred and rebuilding needs to take place.
24. Need to buy office supplies or other products? It’s quite likely that you’ll be able to save money by comparison shopping online before venturing out to a brick-and-mortar store, even with the price of shipping added in. A great tool for comparing prices is Froogle, Google’s tool for comparison shopping. Ebay, Costco Office Supplies are also fantastic resources to check prices of products
25. Learn how to buy books, the right wayThe Web provides a vast amount of free information on any subject you could imagine, but sometimes the situation calls for an old-fashioned book. The traditional books that a business might need—on taxes, starting up, incorporating, finding good employees, expanding, marketing, advertising, even getting started on the Internet—can be bought from competing sites like Amazon, Alibris. By typing the ISBN number found on the title page of the book into a search engine, you can compare prices on all these sites. You can buy new or used, in new or only acceptable condition. Even if a book is out of print, you’ll probably still be able to find it.
26. Not sure which books to buy? Amazon can help with that, too. Amazon has a feature called “Search Inside the Book,??? in which a user can search through millions of books in seconds to find an exact phrase. It’s a great way to find out which books can help you and which have the specific information you’re looking for.
27. Look for the best podcasts.Listening to podcasts can often be an enlightening and interesting form of gaining knowledge. Find the best ones for your trade by looking at the various podcast listings and directories that are available. For most ongoing podcasts, you can subscribe to notification lists to find out when a new one has been added. Some great sites are Podcast Directory and Yahoo! Podcasts
28. Audio books are also a great resource.. Usually longer than podcasts, audio books can be downloaded and listened to in the same way. They can be more amenable to a busy lifestyle than reading a book, because audio books can be listened to while sitting in traffic, eating lunch, or exercising. The leading resource for finding audio books on a subject is Audible.com. I am a member here and I have even returned a book to them that I did not like – within about 24 hours I had the credit back in my account, Amazing customer service.
29. Find the best credit card for your business. A credit card is basically a requirement for a business these days, especially with online shopping. But, not all business credit cards are created equal. Compare them based on features and interest rates on a site like CardWeb or .
30. Give online banking a try. Say goodbye to rushing to the bank before it closes, submitting checks to a teller and writing out paychecks. With online banking, your chosen financial institution is open to you 24 hours daily. You can check your balance, transfer among accounts, create direct deposit for your employees, and set alerts to monitor any type of suspicious activity—it’s all so convenient that there’s no excuse for not trying it. The most comprehensive list is at the Yahoo Internet Bank Directory.
31. Pay your bills online. This can go hand-in-hand with online banking. Once you’ve made the switch from a regular bank, you may as well make the switch from regular bills. With online bill pay, you don’t have to worry about when the bill will come every month, a mail mishap, sending the check off in time to make it across the country by a deadline, keeping a supply of stamps, or any of the other hassles of writing and mailing checks. You simply sign up with the companies you need to pay each month, set up your bank account or credit card information, and you’re set. You can usually pay many bills either through your bank directly or your credit card, too. Set up email alerts to let you know when the bill comes out and when it’s due. You can also sign up for a third party processor, such as CheckFree or Paytrush or Choicepay to manage all your bills in one place.
32. Take the hassle out of filing your taxes. Anything that makes taxes easier is welcome. By using online filing, you’ll be guided through an easy-to-use, step-by-step process that will result in your taxes being filed completely and promptly and most likely resulting in a faster refund. The get this support directly from the IRS.
33. Find new offices.Business owners hope for growth more than almost anything. So, outgrowing your current offices is a good problem to have. You can find new offices easily on the Net—using Realtor.com, you can search by price, location and amenities.
34. Travel for less. Online travel is incredibly convenient—no need to worry about travel agents, speaking on the phone to customer service reps or even Saturday night stays. It’s so easy to check one of the many travel aggregator websites to compare prices and scope the best days to travel. American Express Travel Network offers a great travel comparison site, and you don’t have to be an American Express cardholder to use it. These guys are fantastic, did you know that American Express is the worlds largest travel agency! Just think of the great deal that you will find.
35. Find loans—or find those who may need them. Prosper.com is a growing site that encourages person-to-person loans, both as a way for people who wouldn’t qualify for a bank loan to be able to afford car payments and mortgages, and for budding entrepreneurs who are looking for a high rate of investment to help those loan-seekers out. I am personally a prosper member and I run the group called Vistage. (Shameless Plug)
36. Look into the services of a PEO. Are you a growing business? Are you spending all your time dealing with your employees’ concerns rather than with actually generating revenue? If so, it may be time to look into the services of a PEO, or Professional Employer Organization. A PEO takes all your mundane, time-consuming employee-related tasks—human resources operations, payroll, payroll tax compliance, health insurance, workers’ compensation claims, unemployment claims—and does them for you. The PEO’s workers will work from your office and take care of your employees for you, saving you administration costs and time and providing you with experienced service to increase your profitability. The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) can help you find a PEO that can help your business’ employees.
When I was the President of a 20 person company I used the services of MMC Inc. they are not as expensive as Administaff or some of the others and the healthcare plan alone is worth joining for. Let me know and I will connect you with a fantastic person at the company.
37. Provide the best health insurance—your employees will thank you.. Small businesses can have a difficult time finding affordable health insurance. Luckily, Ehealthinsurance.com makes it easy to compare plans and find the one that’s best for your company by comparing all options available, with what the plans include, how much they cost, and what the definitions of various insurance terms mean, so you can find what’s best for your business and attract the best talent. Or check our number 36 for another personal recomendation.
38. Offer retirement accounts with an online brokerage. It can be good to give your employees choice in what type of retirement account they’d like, but most will appreciate a 401(k) plan the most, especially if you match it by a certain percentage. Check out the different accounts that an online brokerage like Scottrade offers.
39. Need advice on how to deal with employees? Let scientists help you!. Google Scholar is a search engine specifically devoted to finding scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals. Through these studies, the most efficient and proven methods of running a business can be separated from the not-so-great. Would putting coffee in the break room increase workers’ productivity? Does offering a certain type of benefit increase employee loyalty? You can find the answer easily through studies available on Google Scholar.
40. Find the best-qualified employees’ resumes on professional job listings sites.Along with Hotjobs, now owned by Yahoo!, Monster and Careerbuilder are established portals for both workers and employees in the market for hiring. Prospective workers can post resumes and search for listings, and employers can also search for qualified candidates. It’s simple and can make the hiring process go smoother.
41. To reach a wide audience, advertise your vacant position on Craigslist. These days, the best employees are not necessarily found on the usual job sites of Monster and Careerbuilder; they might just be found on an all-purpose classifieds site like Craigslist instead. Posting on Craigslist is free, except in the largest metro areas, where a posting can cost $25. It’s an extremely popular site and increasingly, people are turning to it to not only find jobs, but to furnish their houses or even buy their houses! It’s also easy to post and find a freelance copywriter or web designer
42. Find freelancers. Increasingly, talented writers, coders and designers are turning to freelancing. Many freelancers can be found on bidding sites, where an employer sets forth a project and a budget, and freelancers submit bids, with resumes, experience and writing samples, and compete for the jobs. It can be a great way to find talented people for a fraction of what you’d pay a full-time employee. Freelancers can design and create your website, draw a logo, write the copy and create content. I have used Guru.com, Getafreelancer.comwith a huge amount of success. I am a Guru.com provider and GAF member.
43. Get administration help from a virtual assistant. “Virtual assistants??? are telecommuting contractors who will provide administration services for businesses from the comfort of their own home. There are many staffing agencies that supply virtual assistants, and the benefits can be grand—as independent contractors, VAs don’t require payroll taxes to be paid on top of their salary, or even benefits. I have successfully used Ybrant and would consider using Getfriday.com because of their reputation.
44. Use a TikiWiki to solicit opinions and collaboration from your employees (or customers).. A TikiWiki is a collaborative wiki software which you can upload to your website. Like the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, TikiWiki allows anyone to contribute with their ideas or suggestions, and the results are viewable to all. The wiki can be a great tool to give employees a way to collaborate and get feedback on ideas (the TikiWiki can be password-protected so that only certain people have access), while keeping everything in one central place on the website. Customers can also be given access to voice their concerns or give advice. It can be as open as a forum or only open to one or two people. You can find a general Wiki at . I know these guys personally and their solution is rock solid.
45. Improve workplace security with employee badges. If your company is growing, employee badges can have an important role in keeping both you and your employees safe. Badges can be used to gain access to the building, as lunch cards, to protect computers, or to limit access to certain rooms of the building. Take a look at Photobadge.com they offer custom badge printing. I have used them to print full color ID’s on HID cards.
46. Design a wellness program.There are many companies available online that will cater to your company’s corporate wellness needs. SparkPeople is notable in that it’s both free and available everywhere. Add to your employees’ health and happiness by investing money or time into a program that will motivate them to care about their own health and well-being
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47. Know where your products are. Know where your products are at any given time through online package tracking. This is offered by UPS, FedEx and the United States Postal Service. Your package is scanned at waypoints and the data can be traced by you, or your customer, on the Internet with a tracking number. Customers like the peace of mind of knowing their goods are en route, and you can ensure that you know where your packages are at all times. It’s a win-win situation.
48. Schedule your pickups. With all the packages a business can send out everyday, it’s convenient to know when they’re being picked up and arrange it at your convenience. The major shipping services offer online pickup scheduling, a handy tool which puts you in control of when your packages go out. Even the United States Postal Service has gotten into the game. , FedEx Package Pickup Scheduling and USPS Pickup on demand
49. Prepare your packages without a trip to the post office. The simplest way to get your packages ready to go is by using online stamps and printing labels from USPS, through Stamps.com. Weigh your package, confirm costs, print the label and it’s ready to go!
50. Know your workers’ location at all times.Besides tracking packages, you may want to track your workers. You can make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and where they are if you need to locate them quickly, through a few different online tracking systems. Nextel offers a web-based tracking system for its mobile phones called Mobile Locator. AccuTracking is a company offering GPS-enabled location services on Nextel Blackberry and Motorola phones, or try Trueposition.com
51. Always on time and avoid traffic jams. Check the traffic before you leave with real-time traffic reports on traffic.com
52. Try Amazon Marketplace. Amazon is not just for books anymore, and with its product reviews, recommendations and Super Saver shipping, the site has grown into an essential resource for shoppers looking for all manner of products. Becoming a seller on Amazon’s Marketplace could expand your customer base and also serve as a form of outsourcing—with no marketing or costs aside from Amazon’s commission on your part, you’ll generate sales without the usual associated costs. Amazon is one of the most popular sites on the Web, and if your product is sold on their site, establishing synergy with Amazon is a great idea.
53. Create an Ebay store. Ebay is the world’s most popular auction site, and it offers many possibilities for a brick-and-mortar business to expand operations and sales. For nominal costs, including Ebay and Paypal fees, you can get started selling from your own Ebay storefront. You gain a worldwide customer base, and the auction component, with its bidding wars, can help you sell your products for more than you would otherwise.
54. Teach yourself the industry. A good business technique is to learn everything you possibly can about your niche or industry—this will help you in all aspects of your business. Find a trade directory or portal for the type of business you’re in, familiarize yourself with the trade publications, and in most cases, you can subscribe and read them online. One of the most amazing directories is the Yahoo! B2B Trade Directory
55. Take classes on things you don’t know. Brush up on accounting fundamentals, how to apply for loans and grants, how to create a business plan, or almost anything else you’d ever want to know by taking online classes from Ed2Go. Ed2Go is affiliated with community colleges across the country and offers classes from professionals renowned in each individual field. It’s a fantastic resource for business owners looking to dig deeper into an aspect of the business world, or for employees trying to expand their repertoire of knowledge.
56. Earn an MBA, while still running your business. Getting a degree doesn’t have to mean giving up everything else in life. A distance-learning MBA can be had from many reputable universities—you can begin learning while you keep earning with your already-established business. Check out BusinessWeek rankings of distance MBA programs. You’re already one step ahead!
57. Choose your domain name. These days, choosing your domain name is almost as important as choosing the actual name of your business. To make things easier, the domain name should be the name you do business under; but if it’s taken, you might have to get creative. How do I choose a domain name? Look at the thesitewizard.com. Check a whois domain name register to see if the names you want are taken. Once you find the right name, registration should be about $10 a year. GoDaddy, Register.com and my personal favorite, BulkRegister / Enom
58. Set up your website, entirely for free. Microsoft recently debuted a program called Microsoft Office Live, aimed at small businesses. Sign up for your domain name, host your website with Microsoft, and get five hosted email accounts with two gigabytes of storage each for your chosen domain name, all for free.
59. Next step: hosting. After you’ve acquired your domain name, if you don’t go through a service such as Microsoft Office Live above, you’ll have to find a reliable and inexpensive hosting company. There are many out there, and most offer good value for the money. Hosting should not be a large expense for your company. Take a look at Skyriver.
60. Create your website yourself, through templates. It can be extremely easy to find web templates, available for free, and set them up with your website. It can be a temporary fix until you have your own custom content designed, or it can be a well-chosen template that presents your site in a fabulous way to customers and never has to be swapped out for something else, two of my favorites are TemplateMonster or DreamTemplate
61. For your very own custom website, find a freelance professional. Just as with your PR and marketing copy, you can choose a freelance pro from bidding sites for your website. Sometimes, you need a specific, custom design to show the world the best face for your business, and a freelancer can do that for you quickly and (usually) inexpensively. Give Guru.com
62. Start getting accepting payments. Once your site is up, running and getting visitors, you’re ready to make money from them. But you have to have a reliable method of accepting payments. If you have a merchant account with a credit card company, you can set up the merchant account to accept payments on your website. If you don’t have a merchant account, you can easily accept payments through Paypal or Google Checkout.
63. Or, get a merchant account. If you’ll be doing large-volume selling, it could pay to go ahead and get your own merchant account if you don’t have one already. Merchant accounts differ from Paypal in that they’ll work both on- and offline
Check out Vswipe for an account and professional level services.
64. Create content!. This is the most important step in the website-creation process, because without content, you may as well not have a site at all. You won’t get listed on the search engines, which means customers won’t find you, which means no sales and zero success for your business on the ‘net. You must create good, original content, either related somehow to your product or directly about your product, that will rank high with search engines and keep bringing customers back for more. If you bring good content to search engines, even without any SEO optimization, you should be treated well by search engines. If you need assistance, you can try Craigslist or the freelance bidding sites
65. Start up a company blog. In a Web 2.0 world, blogging is the easiest way to create a memorable, personal connection with your audience. You can blog about your products or about your industry, but either way, you’ll rank higher in the search engines, create valuable content for your site, and give customers a hook to keep coming back to your site. A blog is simply a sort of journal, updated every few days, and posted in chronological order. There are a few different types of software that make blogging simple to add to your site, including WordPress, Movable Type or Blogger.
66. Begin podcasting. Podcasting is a simple idea—it’s an audio presentation that’s available for downloading and listening to on a computer or on an mp3 player. It’s amazingly easy to both create a podcast and present it to the public. That’s even more reason to try it! Once you’ve uploaded the podcast to your website, you can also submit it to podcast directories. A well-made and interesting podcast serves as a fabulous marketing tool and will lead people to your site. It can also easily be integrated with a blog. The biggest and best include Podcast.net and Yahoo! Podcasts.
67. Add photos. An easy way to add an assortment of photos to your site is by using Gallery, software that provides a simple interface for photos and the ability to embed it cleanly within your website. For an artist or other businessperson who needs to show customers photos of products, it can be a great solution. If you are looking for a hosted solution you have to check out the big brother of Web 2.0 image hosting solutions Microsoft Office Live Basics can do that for you for free, and so can Google Apps for Your Domain, providing you with a company-branded Gmail account. If you have a hosting company, they will probably provide a certain number of email addresses and space.
69. Add an email newsletter component to your website. Create a signup box and give your site visitor a reason to sign up—the best carrot is a free newsletter on your specialized subject. With a monthly or weekly newsletter from you, customers will see your name in their inboxes, read about your company, and you will make sales as a result. A newsletter created by tools like ConstantContact, Intellicontact or Mailchimp are the most effective marketing tool at your disposal. Once you have a database of customer emails, you can send notices out about special offers. What a great way to keep your name in front of your customers.
70. Convert your email newsletter into a downloadable .pdf file. You may also want to include your newsletter on your website for download. This is made possible through desktop publishing software, such as Scribus. Scribus is free and comparable to paid programs such as Adobe InDesign and Quark Xpress.
71. Stop Spam Cold!!!. As soon as you make your email address available on the Web for all to see, it will start getting targeted for spam mailings. Fight this before it gets out of control by using the services of a country such as LivePrism. A hosted spam-blocking and virus scanning software, specifically designed for the needs of a business, can prevent unwanted messages from invading your inbox and save you precious time better spent than repeatedly pressing the Delete key. These guys are honestly amazing! I use them every day. They were reciently sold to a public company and their service just keeps getting better, sign up for the LivePrism free trial.
72. Make your website accessible to all. If potential customers with disabilities can’t access your site, you’re leaving out a large segment of consumers. Find the guidelines to make your website accessible from the Web Accessibility Initiative and give everyone the opportunity to experience your site.
73. Find an SEO expert. If you have great content, a blog, a podcast and a newsletter available on your site, you should be in great shape for attracting customers. But, especially if you’re in a highly competitive field, sometimes it just takes the services of an expert to get search engine results. This is vital, because most of your traffic will come directly from search engines. There are firms which do nothing but SEO (search engine optimization), and they are well-equipped to help you get to the top of all the search engines’ rankings. Google provides some great SEO advice on how to go about choosing an SEO firm and how to avoid scammers.
74. Submit your site to search engines and directories. When you have great content established and an SEO professional on the case, you should be well-placed for ranking in the search engines. You can help people find you by submitting your URL to search engines yourself and by listing your business in the various web directories. Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Directory Submit, Google Directory, Submit to Google, Submit to MSN
75. Protect your website and your customers. With the HackerSafe designation, your website is tested on a regular basis to ensure that it is safe for customers to provide you with their private information. In a world full of stories of identity theft, this can be a great way to ensure your customers’ trust.
76. Employ online mystery shoppers to tell you what’s working and what’s not. The old-fashioned form of mystery shopping—walking into a store and buying a product—has transformed into modern online mystery shopping, where consumers go through the steps of your shopping cart or peruse the pages of your site and then tell you what they liked and what they didn’t. It can be an effective means to find out how you can do better, and why. One of the key providers in the industry are Second to None.
77. Write and release press releases, for free. The Internet just makes everything easy. Through widespread press release distribution on the web, you can get free publicity and build your public relations experience, without the need for a PR professional. If you need polishing from an experienced pro, you can find one on Craigslist or the freelance bidding sites mentioned above. Search engines and news organizations adore press releases, and this move is sure to help your rankings and SEO as well. These free press release sites will disseminate your release to search engines while you sit back and wait for the results! I have used Prleap and have heard good things about Media Syndicate. For a wider distribution try PR Newswire not free but fantastic.
78. Create effective email marketing strategies. Just as you might send out snail mail direct marketing letters, you can use your database of customers who have opted in to email lists to send well-written and effective email marketing letters. Ennect.com can help you plan your marketing strategy—are you sending too many messages? Is your message getting across perfectly to make that sale?
79. Manage your email campaigns. . Now that your customers are signed up and you have a great newsletter or marketing campaign to send out, make this aspect of your marketing successful by contracting out the management of your email list. IPost can target messages at certain audience segments and ensure that your emails get past spam blockers and into potential customers’ inboxes.
80. Don’t let your ISP block outgoing emails. SMTP.com is an amazing SMTP service that his dedicated to one thing: providing its customers with a fast, easy way to send their email. Period.
81. Monitor your spam reports. Major ISPs usually offer the option to get feedback on what users are marking your emails and newsletters as spam, which can help you when writing the next email. The last thing you want is for a user to repeatedly mark your emails as spam. Close the loop: AOL Feedback Loop, Hotmail Postmaster and the Yahoo! Postmaster
82. Create coupons easily, from the web. It’s very likely that customers may come to your website expecting special offers and coupons. It’s easy to create printable coupons using CouponBuilder’s web-based software.
83. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise. No one will know your website is there if you don’t tell them. In addition to being listed on search engines, you can advertise yourself directly with the search engines, so that an ad for your website comes up when someone searches for keywords related to your product or service. Try Microsoft AdCenter, Google Adwords or Yahoo! Search Marketing
84. Analyze your traffic. Once you get users to your site, you need to know what’s keeping them there and why they’re coming. Google Analytics can help you—it’s a free analytics tool which provides you with reports on what pages of your site are getting the most views, how long customers are spending on each page, what they click on, and what they click from. This was once invitation only, but now everyone gets to use the power of Google.
85. Get your commercials to the masses. YouTube, Google Video, DailyMotion and other video-sharing sites are extremely popular and create a new forum for entertaining commercials and informative videos. Do you have video content on your site, commercials, product demonstration or other interesting video related to your business? If it’s funny, unique or interesting, it could become a YouTube hit. An IBM commercial was viewed 45,000 times last year on the site. YouTube has young users who are great consumers and great advertising targets. You could even create specific content just for YouTube or Google Video. You never know what the next viral hit will be.
86. Become an expert in your field. . Lately, a number of free “Answers??? sites have cropped up. These sites divide questions into categories and those interested in answers to their questions can ask experts. I enjoy Amazon Askville. By positioning yourself as an expert in one of these communities, you can gain valuable publicity for yourself, your business and your website.
87. Write articles and get them circulated. An easy way to publicize your site and your product is to write a few articles for promotion and submitting them to free articles websites. Check out ArticleCity, ArticleRich and ArticleBlast. These websites make the content available for free to anyone who wants to use the articles, with credit, so it is more of a promotion tool than something that you want to devote copious amounts of time to. Your best work should be reserved for your actual website, which is completely original and holds your own copyright. This is a quick and simple way to demonstrate that you are the only expert that matters in your field and get you (and your website) out there.
88. Try Craigslist. Craigslist is so popular that it’s an extremely effective promotional tool, with the added benefit that in most markets, it’s free to post an ad for your services.
89. Join a marketing forum. You can trade tips and ideas, find marketing pros that can help you with specific projects, and learn more about the tricky, tricky business of marketing. One of the most well-known is the Warrior Forum
90. Try some old-fashioned market research. At Xooxle Answers independent, professional web researchers can fill gaps in your marketing plans by providing up-to-date research on trends, expectations, and maybe even mistakes to avoid in your field.
91. Join an affiliates’ network. Depending on the size of your website and its marketing needs, you may benefit from joining a network of affiliates. Affiliates will pay you for clicks from your site and/or products that people buy at their site after clicking from yours. Affliate Directory is a great place to start looking for an affilate program.
92. Become an Amazon Associate. One of the most powerful and successful affiliate programs in existence is Amazon’s Associate program. You provide a link to a book related to your business that your customers would be interested in, and when someone clicks on it and buys, you receive up to 8.5% of the purchase price. Providing relevant and enjoyable reading material recommendations can be a service that customers appreciate. You can also easily incorporate this into your company blog.
Miscellaneous; other great business ideas
93. You know where you need to go; now you can find the best way to get there. Using the different mapping technologies of Google Maps and Yahoo! Maps Beta, you can plan the most effective routes for your deliveries and how to get from place to place with the least traffic. With Google and its counterpart Google Local, you can see what’s located next to a certain location, and with Yahoo! Maps Beta, you can see which roadways currently have the most congestion and which to take instead.
94. Search for old patents, before creating new ones. That idea you’ve got burning in your head may have been thought of before, and here’s a surefire way to find out: Google’s Patent Search. Just type in keywords, and if a related patent exists, it will pop up and you’ll know whether to proceed with your idea!
95. Advertise other people’s products. Intrinsically, this just doesn’t seem like a good idea at all. Why would you use your site to advertise for someone else??? However, Google’s AdSense program allows you to host targeted, contextual ads that relate to your content. If you have sites other than your main business site, you may want to think about what Adsense can bring to the equation. You’ll be paid whenever someone clicks on an ad on your page and also for achieving a certain number of page impressions. For a small site just starting, or for a partner site with no direct product, Google’s AdSense program can not only pay for hosting but make you a surprisingly large amount of money besides. It can be a product in and of itself.
96. Keep up to date of the latest news in your field. By setting up Google Alerts, you can get messages in your email inbox telling you when a news story comes out related to your business, news about competitors, or anything else you want to stay abreast of. Many other news websites allow you to set up alerts, but they are not as customizable or as comprehensive as Google’s free service.
97. Establish a virtual office. No matter where you are in the world, you can establish an address in any city you could want and manage that remotely. If you’re a British business looking to serve your American customers better, you can set up an office in New York City. It’s all simple and easy to manage remotely. There is no better than Office HQ. If you just need a phone number in another city, try Vonage Virtual Phone Number
98. Create legal documents, without a lawyer. Through the services of LegalZoom, you can create many different types of documents, from beginning incorporation to creating a will to patents and copyrights. Not every legal document needs the work of a lawyer to prepare, and LegalZoom is a great way to bypass an attorney’s usual hourly rates. I have set up two LLC’s and one S Corp with their help. Fast and easy.
99. Virtual PBX Services. FreedomVoice, GotVMail and my favorite RingCentral bring the feeling of a large corporate phone system within reach of a small business. They all have auto-attendant, voicemail, toll-free numbers, call forwarding and other great features.