Communication is essential for starting and building a successful business. In this session, we will review the basic forms of communication, tools, resources, and equipment available for your business.
- Types of Communication
- Basic Communication Tools
- SMS/Text Messaging
- Cellular and Data Plans
- Video and Web Conferencing
- Social Networking Sites
- Online Collaboration/Productivity Tools
- Choosing a Platform
- Common Types of Computers
- Auxiliary Products
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Technology Planning
- Top Ten Do's and Don'ts
- Business Resources
External and Internal Communication
Communication is key to any business success. Strong external communication helps build your brand and sell your product or service by making customers aware of your business and what it has to offer. Internal communication between employees, teams, partners, and leaders is essential to making the business run smoothly and efficiently.
Two types of communication, external and internal, have different objectives:
External communication reaches out to the customer to make him or her aware of your product or service and provide a reason to buy. This type of communication includes brochures, advertising, contact letters/direct mail, telephone calls, business cards, Web sites, and anything else that makes the public aware of what you do. A couple of things to remember about external communication:
Image is extremely important in external corporate communications! Your logo should represent who you are.
Consistency is also very important. Use the same words and messages to communicate externally about your business.
Internal communication with team members is essential to attracting and retaining a talented staff and monitoring business performance. Consistent communication about business goals will provide direction to the people in your company and make sure everyone is working toward the same objective. Internal communication can be designed to motivate your team. Methods for communicating internally include performance awards, newsletters, meetings, telephone calls, and both formal and informal discussions. Periodic meetings with top project management groups, including your board of directors and advisory board, should be planned for regular intervals every year. The importance of an advisory board is covered in the Getting Your Team in Place session of the Business Expansion course.
As with external communication, consistency is very important. Use the same words and messages with all members of your team to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Many large companies print key messages and goals on employee badges and ID cards so that every person in the organization has the same words at their fingertips.
Don’t take communication for granted. Effective communication requires careful planning and uses many different tools. In this session, we will discuss those tools, as well as planning guidelines, to facilitate business communication.
A wide variety of communication tools are used for external and internal communication. Many of these are discussed below and there are always new tools emerging to solve business needs.
Even with all the modern methods of communication, regular postal mail is still a powerful tool for a business. It adds a personal touch, and is often used for delivering secure documents and contracts and for delivering purchased items to customers. A convenient way to handle mail from your own home or office is through a usps.com or Stamps.com account (in the US), which allows you to print postage from your own computer. If you are sending mail internationally, there are a number of carriers available. Be sure to learn which carriers are most reliable in each region where you conduct business. You can compare costs to get the best combination of price, delivery date, and tracking options.
Although you may already have a personal email that you use, having a business email will be helpful in communicating with customers, vendors, and internal teammates. Checking email on a daily basis is essential. There are many email features available depending on the type of account you have. For example, for some accounts you can track email to ensure the recipient reads it. You can also postpone sending outgoing email, filter incoming email, and set-up automatic responses with different types of accounts. Platforms for hosting email include Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo. There are also others. For additional cost, these platforms will set up your own business email address. For example, you could host email@example.com on one of the email platforms by paying an extra fee.
Email is also a very powerful communication tool for reaching your customers and potential customers MOBI’s Marketing session provides more detail about how you can use email marketing for your business including broadcast campaigns, drip campaigns, and email automation. There are a variety of helpful email marketing tools and services that might be helpful for your business including Mailchimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot, Zoho Campaigns, MailerLite, and more.
The cornerstone of your business communication, both external and internal, may be your telephone. There are many types of telephones, and only you can decide which type is right for you. Even the standard telephone (landline) that is installed in your office has many options. While you may have a telephone already, you should start with at least one line that is unique to your business. This line should have the capability to take messages in case it is not answered personally. Here are some telephone tips:
It is important to treat the telephone as a business tool. Answer your phone in a timely manner (within three rings if you can). Always identify yourself when answering. Record a voicemail message that identifies the number, provides brief information about your business, and indicates when you will return the call. Then continually check your voicemail to return calls promptly.
Have a separate line for your business phone and your personal phone. Don't have family members pick up or use the business phone. Get any required extra telephone lines installed before you start.
When leaving phone messages, clearly state your business’s name and phone number at the beginning and the end of the message.
Be polite in cell phone use! Good business courtesy includes avoiding being interrupted by telephone calls, texts, or email when in a meeting or during a business lunch.
The landline is the telephone system that uses a physical wire for transmission. You may have a landline in your home, your office, or at a public phone location. If the internet is unreliable, you will still be able to use your landline because it relies on a different technology for communication. There are many services available for landline telephones. If you have an existing landline and would like to add additional services such as voicemail, multiple lines, and conference calling, be sure to research the options offered by your service provider and its competitors. You may not have to switch phone companies to get the features you want.
Cell Phones/Mobile Phones
The cell phone, also called a mobile phone, is used for mobile communications. There are numerous carriers/providers and plans. Many carriers have plans tailored for small businesses including options that bundle popular features and usage patterns making them very cost effective. Be sure to ask questions about your specific needs before selecting a carrier and a plan. Understand the duration and terms of your agreement. Many can be two years or more. Consider what type of communication you will use most for your business - conversations over the phone, texting, or data. Investigate plans that have unlimited access in your key area to compare pricing.
When your usage or needs change, do not hesitate to request information on plans that more closely meet your new set of requirements. But be aware there are hefty fees for canceling early.
A smartphone is a cell phone that offers advanced capabilities with computer-like functionality. A smartphone incorporates features like email, internet, and social media. Smartphones are capable of text messaging and include a camera with video capability.
Outside your office, a smartphone can be a valuable tool for business. In fact, if you don’t have an office, or work from your home, a smartphone can be your office. With a smartphone you can use email, access the internet, review, edit, or scan documents, use GPS, accept and make payments, and use a multitude of applications (apps) to do almost anything. The most popular smartphones are the Apple iPhone (iOS), Samsung Galaxy (Android), and Google Pixel (Android) but new smartphones are emerging on the market every day. Each has different strengths you will need to factor into your business needs.
Internet Calling: Google Voice and Others
Internet calling is a way to make phone calls using the internet. This can also be known as voice over internet protocol or VoIP. There are several internet calling providers. Google Voice is the most popular and it is free. Google Voice provides voicemail, Short Message Service (SMS) and texting, and a local phone number. Users can send free text messages, customize their voicemail, read voicemail text transcript, and more. Users can make or receive calls or texts from their computer or from their mobile smartphone. Google’s voicemail service is now available for free to all Gmail users. There are many internet calling providers, and each one provides a service for a monthly fee with different features, capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Internet calling can be an affordable alternative solution for businesses to investigate if new features are needed. For example if multiple lines are needed as well as call holding, call waiting, and conference calls, internet calling may provide an affordable solution.
SMS Messaging and Texting
While not all mobile phones are smartphones capable of sending and receiving videos and photos, nearly all mobile phones can receive SMS (short message service) messages. These are texts of less than 160 characters that consist only of letters, numbers, and symbols. SMS messaging, and texting in general, is a powerful way to communicate. SMS messaging and texting provide one-to-one communication. As more and more people adopt mobile phones, there are more opportunities to connect directly and personally with mobile phone users (who may be your customers!).
Businesses can use SMS messages as a way to remind customers of sales, product offerings, and other announcements. It is important to note that customers must opt-in to receive SMS texts and that it is illegal for businesses to send SMS messages to customers who have not opted-in. Businesses can often encourage customers to opt-in by offering them something in exchange. For example, a hot dog business could get customers to participate in their SMS marketing campaign by offering them $5 off their next meal for texting a code to their specialized SMS campaign number. Larger companies might purchase the services of an online text message marketing company to manage these marketing campaigns and to provide them with a short phone number code for customers to use to opt-in to the campaign. Small businesses could also allow customers to sign up for text messages like they might sign up for a mailing/emailing list and send messages directly.
Cellular and Data Plans
There are two major types of mobile phone plans: pre-paid and post-paid. Pre-paid allows you to pay a mobile carrier or service provider upfront for mobile services, and you must refill your minutes or data when they run out. Be aware that overage charges for minutes or data used that exceed your plan may be billed at a higher rate. You will need to understand if it is possible to go over your pre-paid amount, and what additional charges might be imposed. Post-paid plans allow you to sign a contract with a mobile carrier for different types of mobile services, and you pay for those services at the end of the month. Unused minutes or data may or may not roll over from one month to the next month, meaning you have to pay for your minutes or data each month whether you use it all or not.
Whichever plan you choose, be sure you understand the terms. There may be penalties for terminating your contract early. You should think about your business needs before deciding on a mobile service plan and whether you want to pay upfront or at the end of the month.
Video and Web Conferencing
Video conferencing provides a way to have face-to-face meetings without the expense of travel. It provides a more personal way to communicate both externally with customers and partners and internally with team members or employees who may work outside the office.
Video conferencing technologies transmit and receive images and voice in real-time so that you can have a “face-to-face meeting.” Web conferencing adds another dimension - it allows you to share documents and applications during your online meeting. Both options allow you the flexibility to have one-on-one meetings or conferences with multiple attendees. Seeing facial expressions and nonverbal cues during crucial business discussions and negotiations can be invaluable for your business.
Some common tools for video and web conferencing are listed below. These tools are offered at different levels and price points, although there are some you can access for free. Some examples of video and web conferencing tools include:
Visit PC Magazine’s “Best Video Conferencing Software” roundup to compare different options.
Social Networking Sites
If you are a member of a social networking site or utilize social media, you know that these platforms are popular for businesses that use them for marketing. A social network is an online community comprised of individuals or organizations that are tied together by common interests. Internet-based social networking occurs through a variety of website platforms that allow users with similar interests to share content and interact online. Some popular social networking sites include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and many others.
By creating or joining social networks for your business, or the interests of your business, you can build relationships with current and future customers. It's a whole new way of marketing, leveraging the popularity and connections of these social networking sites. It's a way to build relationships with your customers and potential customers. For example, there are online social networks for companies, celebrities, politicians, and interests such as travel, home decor, cooking, and exercise to name a few. You can post content, like helpful information or updates about your products or services to these networks and groups, quickly and inexpensively providing information to many followers all at once. It's a powerful way to connect with people and share information about your business in a convenient and efficient manner.
Many businesses pursue a social media strategy in their marketing efforts. Social media marketing is a relatively inexpensive way to reach specific customer segments that you believe will be interested in your product or service. To be successful it requires a steady effort and participation over time. One mistake businesses make is jumping in and posting frequently initially, but then not maintaining the effort for very long. It’s better to begin with a pace you know you can continue, whether it’s once a month, once a week, or once a day. If you find you have more content to post, you can always do more. A note of caution on internet social networking: once you put something out there it's hard to take it back, so you have to be careful. Always be mindful of how a post will represent and reflect on your business. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that your personal social networks may also be visited by potential customers, partners, investors, and employees.
Online Collaboration Tools
The world is at our fingertips when it comes to being able to work online within our business, with partners, vendors and/or customers/consumers. From messaging to group chats, video conferencing, file sharing, document collaboration, elearning, and more, almost anything is possible right from your device. In addition to the tools and resources discussed above, below are some ideas and examples of tools that can be used depending on your goals.
Google offers a suite of products that enable online collaboration. Using Google Docs you can develop a document that can be edited by multiple people in different locations (or all within the same conference room) in real-time, and at the same time. Other G-Suite products work the same way: Google Sheets, Google Slides, and Google Drive for example. You can create and manage your documents in a filing system that can be owned by one person or shared among a team. Google Calendar has become a popular way for organizing your own schedule as well as scheduling meetings among members of different organizations or businesses.
Office 365/Office Online
Microsoft also offers a suite of products that enable online collaboration. Office 365 includes Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note, Skype, and other applications. The Office 365 suite is not free. Microsoft Online offers software in a cloud-based variety for free.
Messaging tools allow for online chat and instant messaging between individuals or teams. Some also feature file sharing, file storage, video calling, searchable message-history, image viewing, and creating polls. Some of these tools integrate with Google Drive, Facebook, Dropbox and other software. A few examples are:
You can visit Small Business Trends’ article entitled, “30 Instant Messaging Apps Your Business Could Use” or Business News Daily’s article, “14 Chat Tools for Small Business” to learn more about these and other options.
Online and Shared Calendars Apps and Software
Online and shared calendar tools are wonderful for time-management and scheduling meetings with others. Some examples include but are not limited to:
G2 is a software marketplace where you can learn about and compare many products. Visit its online and shared calendar tools listing for products in this category.
Task Management Apps and Software
Task management applications allow users to manage their tasks from a smartphone, tablet, computer, or smartwatch. Many of them are free; additional collaboration features are available in paid versions. They are a great way to keep track of your progress and projects whether working on them individually or as a team. Some examples include:
Online publication Geekflare has a list of 11 free task software products and internet searches may provide other options as well.
Electronic Agreement and E-Sign/Digital Signature Software
If your business has transactions and agreements with others it can be helpful to have a secure way to prepare, share, and sign these documents over the internet. Some tools that provide this capability include:
There are a variety of other productivity and communication tools that fall outside of these categories that might be useful for your business. Some of these include:
Tango: Captures workflows with screenshots to create step-by-step guides helpful for instruction and other purposes.
Grammarly: Provides writing assistance.
Scribe: Records workflow processes for operating procedures and training purposes.
Canva: Allows you to create high quality graphic design for social media, presentations, and more.
Visit MOBI's favorite tools on our resources and tools page to learn more.
A computer is so affordable that it should be included as a key tool in your business. Computers can be purchased for a wide range of prices. For basic word processing, email, accounting, and spreadsheet work, you will not need a top-of-the-line computer.
Choosing a Platform
Your first decision in choosing a computer may be deciding which platform you prefer: Apple (Mac) or Windows (PC). If you are leaning toward a laptop computer, then you may also consider Google’s Chromebook. (While products in each category can be thought of as a personal computer, we will be using the abbreviation “PC” to refer to Windows devices in this session.)
These platforms differ in several ways including price, technical specifications, software that comes with the product as well as software that can be used with the product, availability, design, and more.
PCs tend to be less expensive than Macs, and Chromebooks are very affordable for everyday tasks. PCs can give you a greater variety to choose from, use Windows software, and allow you to more easily add software or upgrades. Macs are high quality products typically popular for video, graphics, and design uses. Macs use Apple operating systems (iOS) and can support software designed for (iOS). Chromebooks are a simple and convenient product for many business needs. They use web-based or browser-based applications so they work best when connected to the internet, and you cannot run any Windows software on Chromebooks. You will also need a Google account to set everything up.
Internet searching can help you learn more about the differences between these platforms.
Computers are sold with different “configurations” including a processor, memory, storage capacity, wireless card, operating system. It’s a good idea to do some research to identify the minimum configuration that will support your current activities and those you may want to add in the near future. For example, if you plan to do a lot of graphic design, content creation, and video editing be sure you have the processing power, memory and storage to support your work. Computers also come with a variety of ports (USB, USB-C, ethernet, HDMI, etc.) that allow you to attach other hardware. Consider how you will use your computer and what you might want to add to determine if there are enough of the right ports for you. The configurations of the computer affect the price.
Common Types of Computers
Computers come in a variety of configurations, sometimes called a “form factor.” Below we discuss the most common configurations: desktop, laptop, notebook, and tablet.
Desktops are the most common computer configuration. They are not portable but can be customized to meet the needs of your business. A desktop should come with a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse. With the popularity of web and video conferencing, it’s also a good idea to select a desktop computer with a webcam and speakers.
A laptop computer offers portability with many of the features offered by a desktop, which make it ideal for meetings or if you travel frequently. Drawbacks for laptops include: they are higher in price than desktops, have smaller keyboards and monitors, have limited battery life, and are subject to theft. Most laptops provide the option of connecting to a keyboard, mouse, additional monitor, and/or printer wirelessly or through a cable. If you travel and need computing capability, it is worth the extra expense. Popular laptop examples include the Chromebook, Surface Pro, and MacBook Pro.
Notebooks are a rapidly evolving category of small, light and portable computers suited for general computing and accessing web-based applications. They are very popular with students, bloggers, and business owners alike.
While generally less expensive than laptops, manufacturers are starting to beef up notebooks, which is increasing their cost. A caution: their compact size makes them attractive for traveling, but if you are considering one to save on the cost of a laptop, you probably will be getting less memory, and many do not have full applications or compatibility with your other business applications.
A tablet is equipped with a touchscreen or stylus rather than a keyboard to operate the computer. The advantages include flexibility to use without a mouse or keyboard, easier recording of diagrams and symbols as well as the ability for handwritten note-taking, and convenience. Disadvantages include higher cost, slower input speed, and risk of damage to the tablet screen. You can purchase a keyboard and mouse for a tablet, but that would also increase the cost. Be wary of the total cost because the cost may be similar to a laptop that has more capacity and capability. Examples of tablet computers include the iPad, Galaxy Tab, Surface Go, and Amazon Kindle.
Things to keep in mind when purchasing a computer:
Get as much capability as you can afford. Laptops, notebooks, and tablets may not be as easy to upgrade as desktop computers because of the nature of their construction.
Be sure you get all the features you need when you purchase.
If you do not normally have access to an electrical outlet, get a laptop or notebook with extended battery life.
Keep all documentation, software, and accessories that come with your device.
The software you purchase is key to making your computer productive. The operating system (OS), whether it is a PC or a Mac, should be preloaded onto the system. The operating system is what allows you to interact with your computer. Many software packages are often bundled with the system at the time of purchase and some in the form of trial software. At the bare minimum, you should have the capability to do word processing/create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
To protect your information, an antivirus program is essential. You can purchase one or use a free program; however, the free programs will typically not give you as much security as the paid versions.
Additionally, you may want to consider financial and accounting software that is appropriate for your business. Be sure to read the software specifications before purchasing any software to ensure that your hardware and software are compatible.
Many products can be used with your computer to enhance the functionality and image of your business. Auxiliary products often require special software.
Printer - Printers are available at many price points. The connectivity, either wireless or hard wired, will depend on the type of computer you have. Be sure to research the compatibility of your computer and printer before making a purchase. Laser printers cost more up front than inkjet printers but are less expensive over the long run when taking printing costs into account. You can choose either a color or black and white printer. A color printer may allow you to print marketing materials for your business. If you have a small space to work with, consider an all-in-one printer which can fax, scan, copy, and print. Some printers have USB ports or slots for memory cards, allowing you to print directly from these media storage devices.
Digital Camera - Many people have a digital camera on their smartphones. For specialty photos or to produce very high quality photos, a dedicated digital camera may be more appropriate for your business. A picture taken with a digital camera can be directly loaded onto your computer for a variety of uses. Many digital cameras also offer wifi connectivity so you can upload images directly to the web or a social network platform. Usage ideas include pictures of properties, product catalogs, pictures accompanying résumés, and many more. Digital cameras come in various shapes and sizes, but what really sets them apart in price is image quality. Smartphone camera quality is good and improving all the time. So you may have all the digital imaging capabilities you need in your smartphone already.
Scanner - Scanners provide the ability to convert a paper document into a digital document that you can send, store, or copy. Fax machines used to be a popular way to collect signatures on documents from people in a different location. Now a scanner is more frequently used because the digital document can be sent by email. There are also applications that allow you to scan a document with your phone. In many cases, a photograph can also be taken of a document, and that image sent or stored as needed.
Hard Drives and Storage - Don't overlook the importance of making regular external backups of the content, images, and individual programs used in your business. A backup is simply saving your information to a second source so you have a second copy in case your system crashes or is lost. Backups are commonly stored on USB flash drives, external hard drives, and/or a cloud-based system. External storage is relatively inexpensive. There are also services provided on the web to facilitate this process.
The internet is an essential marketing and communication tool for every business. It allows you to communicate with potential customers, create leads, and establish your business.
Creating an Online Presence
You should register with internet search engines and crowdsourced business review sites to build your online presence and allow people to find your business quickly. You can advertise on these sites to get more visibility on the page.
Here are some potential sites to consider for listing your business online::
Search engines and directories:
Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business): https://www.google.com/business/
Bing Places for Business: https://www.bingplaces.com/
Apple Maps Connect: https://businessconnect.apple.com/ (if your business has a physical address)
Industry-specific directories: depending on your industry, examples might include OpenTable, TripAdvisor, Zomato, Zillow, Realtor.com, Houzz, Angi Ads, AutoMD, Healthgrades, ClassPass, The Knot, StyleSeat, Care.com, Wyzant, Rover, Petfinder, and more.
Local chamber of commerce: some chambers of commerce may have online directories
Crowdsourced business review sites (US based):
Industry-specific directories: depending on your industry, examples might include TripAdvisor (travel, hospitality, dining), Angi Ads (home services), AutoMD, Avvo.com (legal services).
Local chamber of commerce: some chambers of commerce may have online directories.
Business News Daily published a list of 14 business review websites, many of which allow businesses to sign up or claim their website.
How you use the internet in your business is up to you. Perhaps you are not ready to sell your products online, but you are interested in developing a website that lets people know what you do. At the other extreme, you may want to use the internet as your main sales channel. Just remember, the basics are still on the ground: you need products and services that people want; you need to attract people to your internet site so that they have the option of purchasing these products and services from you; you need to convince them to buy; you need a place to store your products; and you need a way to get them to the purchaser.
Website hosting fees vary, so be sure to consider whether you want a site where updates will be infrequent (it’s just a landing page where people can learn about your business), or a very interactive site, with frequent updates, a shopping cart, lots of content, etc. You will also need to pay for your domain, the web address for your business such as www.yourbusinessname.com. Both the hosting and domain fees can be paid annually or for several years at a time.
The Ecommerce session of this course provides detailed information about the internet and ecommerce.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, has recently emerged as a powerful tool for many different aspects of life and business. There are AI platforms like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, and AI is also used within the technology of other tools, including many of the tools discussed above.
MOBI asked OpenAI’s ChatGPT how AI could be helpful for small business and this is the answer it generated:
Utilizing AI in operating a small business can offer numerous benefits and help streamline various processes. Here's a short summary of how AI can be applied in different aspects of a small business:
1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): AI-powered CRM systems can gather and analyze customer data, enabling businesses to personalize interactions, improve customer satisfaction, and make informed marketing decisions.
2. Sales and Marketing: AI can assist in lead generation, sales forecasting, and targeted marketing campaigns. Chatbots, powered by AI, can provide 24/7 customer support, answer common queries, and even handle basic transactions.
3. Inventory Management: AI can optimize inventory levels by analyzing historical data, current trends, and customer demand patterns. This helps businesses avoid overstocking or stockouts, reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction.
4. Data Analysis: AI algorithms can quickly analyze large datasets, extracting valuable insights and identifying patterns that humans might miss. This can aid in making data-driven decisions, such as identifying market trends or optimizing pricing strategies.
5. Fraud Detection and Security: AI algorithms can identify unusual patterns or behaviors, helping small businesses detect and prevent fraud, hacking attempts, and security breaches.
6. Workflow Automation: AI can automate repetitive tasks, freeing up time for employees to focus on more value-added activities. This can include automating data entry, document processing, and routine customer inquiries.
7. Financial Analysis: AI tools can analyze financial data, perform risk assessments, and provide accurate forecasts. This can assist in budgeting, financial planning, and identifying areas for cost optimization.
8. Personalized Recommendations: AI can analyze customer preferences, browsing behavior, and purchase history to offer personalized product or service recommendations. This can enhance customer satisfaction, increase sales, and encourage repeat business.
It's important for small businesses to carefully consider their needs, budget, and resources when implementing AI solutions. However, when leveraged effectively, AI can help small businesses improve efficiency, enhance customer experiences, and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
It is important that you and your employees use the internet appropriately when representing your business. You should have a policy about using the internet at work. Your policy should be in writing and signed by your employees to make sure they understand it. Remember, appropriate use of technology can make your business look established and successful from the very beginning! Unfortunately, inappropriate use of the internet, social media, and social networking can make your business look unprofessional and turn away potential customers.
THE TOP TEN DO'S
- Ensure that your external and internal communications are consistent and support your brand.
- Establish a designated phone number for your business, record a professional voicemail message, and speak clearly and slowly, repeating your name and number when calling others.
- Investigate the option of purchasing a smartphone, and use it to support your business.
- Consider using video and web-based conferencing tools to allow for face-to-face meetings without the expense of travel.
- Create a social media strategy you can maintain, to allow for the most success in interacting with followers and promoting your business.
- Investigate and explore what online collaboration tools would work best for you and your team.
- Conduct thorough research on what computer is best for you to purchase for your business, and buy the most capabilities you can afford.
- Consider a laptop computer if your business requires mobility.
- Register on search engines and crowdsourced business review sites for marketing as well as a way to communicate with potential customers and leads.
- Invest in antivirus software to protect your computer, your identify, and your information. Regularly backup your data.
THE TOP TEN DON'TS
- Underestimate the importance of communications in business.
- Assume your personal social media posts will be private and not seen by your customers, investors, and partners.
- Use a shared line or family phone number for business.
- Overlook the internet and smartphones as important business tools.
- Start your business without knowledge about and possession of computer tools.
- Overlook making regular external backups to computer programs and your data.
- Spend for a top-of-line computer unless it is required in your business.
- Stick with a cellular or data plan if your needs have changed. Contact your service provider and investigate pricing for features you need.
- Start an active social media campaign if you can’t maintain the frequency of your posting.
- Use SMS or text marketing unless you have permission by users who have opted-in to receive your messages.
If you are writing your business plan while reviewing this material, take a moment now to include any information about your business related to this session. MOBI’s free Business Plan Template and other worksheets, checklists, and templates are available for you to download. Just visit the list of MOBI Resource Documents on the Resources & Tools page of our website.
Here are some key terms and definitions used in this session or related to this session:
|AI||Artificial Intelligence is technology that gives programs the ability to understand, reason, and make decisions by analyzing large amounts of data. It's a way for machines to become smarter and more helpful in solving problems and assisting us in various tasks.|
|Antivirus Software||Software that can be added to a computing system that will monitor and protect against malware, or software intended to disrupt computing operations (such as viruses, etc.).|
|Computer Configuration||Describes the different components that comprise a computing system. In this session it also describes components included when you purchase a computer such as the processor, memory, storage capacity, wireless card, operating system, various ports (for example USB, HDMI, etc.).|
|CRM||Customer Relationship Management is the process of managing contacts as they transition through different parts of the customer journey. There are many CRM tools and technologies available to help simplify and organize information related to customers.|
|Crowdsourced Business Review Sites||Websites where members of the public can contribute reviews, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and others.|
|Domain||A unique name that people type into their web browser to find your website on the internet. For example, "www.example.com" is a domain. A URL is similar to a domain but it includes all the components of the web address to get to a specific webpage, image, or file.|
|E-commerce||The online buying and selling of products and services, also known as electronic commerce.|
|Fraud Detection||The activity of monitoring for unusual, illegal, or fake activity in e-commerce.|
|Google Voice||A way to make phone calls over the internet rather than over copper wires like traditional telephones or "landlines." Also known as voice over internet protocol or VoIP.|
|Online Collaborating Tools: Messaging||Tools that enable instant online chat capabilities. Some examples include Slack, GroupMe and Google Chat.|
|Online Collaboration Tools: Calendar||Tools that enable online calendar capabilities to share schedules, create meetings, invite attendees, etc. Examples include Google Calendar, Calendly, Doodle, Microsoft Outlook, Teamup, and Asana.|
|Online Collaboration Tools: Electronic Agreement/Signature||Tools that provide a secure way to prepare, share, and sign documents over the Internet. Examples include DocuSign, Adobe Acrobat Sign, SignNow, PandaDoc, etc.|
|Online Collaboration Tools: Suites||A variety of programs and applications that can be shared among people online such as Google's G-Suite (including Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and more) and Microsoft's Office 365/Office Online (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Skype, One Note, and others).|
|Online Collaboration Tools: Task Management||Tools that allow people to manage and share projects and tasks. Examples include Trello, ClickUp, Todoist, Any.do, Quire, etc.|
|PDA||Personal Digital Assistant, such as handheld computers.|
|Smartphone||A mobile or cell phone that offers advanced capabilities with computer-like functionality.|
|SMS||Short Message Service is a text messaging service whereby messages of up to 160 characters (letters, numbers and symbols) can be sent and received. Customers must opt-in to receive SMS messages as it is illegal for businesses to send messages to customers who have not opted in.|
|Social Media||The collection of interactive technologies that enable people to connect, share, discuss, and communicate over the internet.|
|Social Media Marketing||The practice of conducting marketing activities on websites and through social media platforms to promote a product or service. Also known as digital marketing.|
|Social Network||An online community comprised of individuals or organizations that are tied together by common interests. Internet-based social networking occurs through a variety of website platforms that allow users to share content and interact online. Some examples include: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and many others.|
|URL||Stands for Uniform Resource Locator, the URL is commonly known as the web address for a website, for example, MOBI's URL is https://www.scu.edu./mobi. The URL includes all components of a web address that will take users to a specific webpage, image, or file. It is similar to a domain, however, the domain is a human-readable address such as "www.example.com."|
|Video Conferencing||A way to have face-to-face meetings without the expense of travel. Also known as web conferencing. Web conferencing is different from video conferencing in that it allows you to share documents and applications during your online meeting. Some examples of video and web conferencing tools include: Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, Ring Central, Webex, GoTo Meeting, BlueJeans, and Microsoft Teams.|
|Voicemail||A low-cost phone answering service provided by telephone companies that is more business-like than an answering machine.|
|VoIP||Voice Over Internet Protocol is a way to make phone calls over the internet rather than over copper wires like traditional telephones or "landlines." Also known as internet calling.|
|Web conferencing||A way to have face-to-face meetings without the expense of travel. Also known as web conferencing. Web conferencing is different from video conferencing in that it allows you to share documents and applications during your online meeting. Some examples of video and web conferencing tools include: Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, Ring Central, Webex, GoTo Meeting, BlueJeans, and Microsoft Teams.|
|Website Domain||The web address for your business, such as www.yourbusinessname.com. Domains are available from a variety of providers, and ownership terms can be one year or several years, depending on the provider.|
|Website Hosting||Where all the content and files for your website reside online, where they are hosted. Hosting terms can be one year or several years, depending on the provider.|
|Workflow||The steps are taken in a process. For example, there is a workflow for producing the product of a small business, a workflow for hiring an employee, a workflow for managing inventory, etc.|
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