Online Businesses Are Shaping 2012
A 2011 study from the Center for Marketing Research was conducted with the Inc. Magazines top 500 fastest growing companies to determine how the Internet and social media are affecting businesses.
The results of the research find a significant increase in the use of social media, including sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and others. These fast growing businesses are also incorporating mobile applications for smart phones, iPads and tablets, as well as continuing to leverage email, text messaging and blogging.
The study shows that 74% of the Inc. 500 companies are using Facebook as part of their marketing strategy, and 73% are using LinkedIn. 88% find social media important to generate a business website traffic, and 81% find it important for lead generation.
What does this mean for entrepreneurs and small business owners?
As part of your business planning process, you should have an online business presence and include social media as part of your marketing strategy. Because so many businesses are going where their customers are which is online it is critical that your business has a presence as well.
The next concern is cost and resources to manage all the aspects of an online business. A virtual office is a new trend that has helped many small companies with their online business management. Virtual office services can include:
- A business street address to use instead of a residential address
- Conference call and conference room services
- Wireless internet connectivity for webinars and working online
- Phone and fax services with call forwarding to your cell if needed
- Professional answering services and voicemail
- Meeting facilities and office space to present a professional image
Instead of using your home office and phone, a virtual office can give you a true professional image without the expense of leasing separate office space.