Small Business Software

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:: Federal Contracts

February 28-29, 2004
The federal government purchases billions of dollars in goods and services each year. U.S. policy, as stated in the Small Business Act, is that all small businesses have the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in providing goods and services to the government. To ensure that small businesses get their fair share, the SBA negotiates annual procurement preference goals with each Federal agency and reviews each agency's results. When working with government agencies be sure to document your small business status in order to maintain a business advantage.

:: Domain Names & Email Addresses

February 26-27, 2004
A small fact that is often overlooked by webmasters, involves characters in email addresses and domain names. Occasionally letters and numbers look similar with some fonts. Often its difficult to distinguish the difference between a number "1" and the letter "l". Its best to avoid such characters, as it can often cause confusion, especially if an email address contains bother letters and numbers.

:: What is SMS

February 25, 2004
SMS is a great new technology that allows you to send short text messages to pagers or cell phones. Mobilizing staff allows for additional productivity. This technology can be extremely helpful to small businesses as a way to increase response times while operating from remote locations. Check out What is SMS?

:: Small Business Guide

February 24, 2004
I discovered a handy small business legal guide on BusinessWeek . The guide contains information regarding legal issues and details how to protect your small business. The section contains legal forms, you may also want to check our sample letter section for drafts of letters that might relate to legal issues.

:: Blog & Submissions

February 22-23, 2004
If you have a blog site be sure to submit the site to the numerous blog directories and blog search engines. The Top55 lists sites that accept blog and RSS feed submissions.

Blogs are a great way to update your customers about changes, specials or information on your products or service. A daily blog doesn't require a lot of additional effort and it provides fresh content. A number of businesses have benefited from daily blogs. A great article we recommend is Web Blogs, Defined, Explained and Understood.

:: Words Matter

February 21, 2004
I recently read an article that emphasized the use of words in advertising. Sampling various ads to increase your click through and enhance your ads appeal, while still providing information that relates to your product or service is critical to success in advertising. Be sure to try different ads and monitor and chart your results. Measuring will ensure advertising success.

:: Email Removal

February 20, 2004
A website that claims to reduce unsolicited ccommercial e-mail to those sign up is actually acting as an address collection center! The site www.unsub.us claims to help prevent spam when in fact it is illegally selling the addresses submitted to spammers.

:: Yahoo!

February 19, 2004
Yahoo has finally started using Inktomi's results, officially dumping Google. This has caused quite a change in the results appearing. It also appears that the prediction regarding changes at Google were spot-on. According to sources the "Brandy" update is similar to results prior to the "Florida" update, but Google sources insist that it is not a database roll back.

:: Google Shakeup

February 17-18, 2004
The following excerpt from WebProNews indicates another major shakeup at Google is on the way:

"We are predicting another massive change to listings over the next week, based on our analysis of how Google is looking at incoming links and its recent behaviour patterns." As proof they offered that, "Google has, in the past 24-hours, radically upped the link-count on most of our clients' sites." Yesterday Google only recognized 105 of the more than 1000 actual links to Stepforth's site. Today Google shows 220. This enormous change in the number of Google-recognized links to theStepforth site indicates a change in what the Google algorithm perceives as a valid link.

Major Search analysts predict that Google rankings will undergo another major change next week.

:: Productivity

February 16, 2004
Clipboard enhancers can make your life significantly easier when you are jumping from task to task. Consider using Clipmate or one of the other titles we've profiled in our productivity software section. These programs will insure increased productivity and more efficient staff.

:: Microsoft & Hosting

February 14-15, 2004
Microsoft Corp. says incomplete portions of the source code for some versions of its Windows computer operating system were leaked over the Internet, but analysts caution it's too early to say how much damage the leak may cause. Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla said Thursday that some pieces of source code the tightly guarded blueprint of its dominant computer operating system for its Windows 2000 and Windows NT4.0 operating systems had been "illegally made available on the Internet."

What does this mean for small businesses? There is an increased of security breaches. Companies using web hosts that are on a Microsoft platform are at more risk than those on Unix. Talk to your hosting company and discuss the security implications.

:: Froogle

February 13, 2004
If you are selling a product or service online, be sure to submit the product to Google's product database, Froogle. Froogle allows shoppers to find specific products and price shop. Submissions to Froogle are handled through a feed, that needs to be updated each month. A good article that provides submission details is available at Software Marketing Resource.

:: Etiquette

February 12, 2004
I frequently receive queries regarding "netetiquette" involving what protocol is when responding or conducting business online. There is a great online resource that helps with email etiquette and newsgroup etiquette online. Having staff familiar with online business practices will insure that your online presence is a positive one.

:: Good Business Sense

February 11, 2004
It always amazes me when I see an owner of a small business allienating potential customers, simply by discussing the "wrong" issues. Human nature celebrates our diversity, it is unlikely that customers will have the same opinions on every issue. Stick to safe issues, avoid controversial issues like abortion, the morality of war, gun control or politics in general. As much as you might like someone as an individual, you might find their personal convictions very different from your own. Many of the "hot" issues illicit strong, opnions and in business situations its simply best to avoid those controversial topics to ensure no offense is caused.

:: Targeted Advertising

February 10, 2004
The internet has global reach, it is your job to take advantage of that. If you have a product that can be used outside of a specific region it is your job to ensure that you are not limiting yourself, don't be afraid to think outside of the box! If on the other hand your product or service is only available in a specific region be sure to add qualifiers to any pay-per-click campaigns so that you do not receive traffic that is useless. Your title should be an attention-getter but not to the extent that the traffic you are receiving is untargeted. Keep in mind sales matter a whole lot more than web visitors. Make sure your advertisements convert to sales and not just visitors.

:: Tax Deadlines

February 9, 2004
If you are a US corporation keep in mind that your taxes are due March 15, while personal taxes are due on April 15th. It is also likely that your corporate articles need to be filed annually, this will vary by the state that you are located in but your accountant or lawyer should be able to provide details.

:: Forums

February 8, 2004
With the level of spam on the rise email is no longer an optimum method of communication, while it is still needed by small businesses, you may wish to consider providing other communication alternatives to customers. A number of businesses have effectively added forums to their websites, as an alternative communication method. The businesses have found that forums establish a searchable database of questions and answers that can be helpful in providing customers ongoing support. Others have found that customers can assist each other. Free helpers, does it get any better for a struggling small business? Of the forums I've evaluated I really like the flexibility of PHPbb. Both of the following use PHPbb and have been quite effective NotePage and Messaging Software.

:: Database Management

February 7, 2004
Are you in need of an application to manage data. AskSam has a great free form database that allows you to create the database structure and allows you to search on anything stored within the database. The engine can be easily searched and is a great tool for managing data.

:: Shareware

February 6, 2004
When you are looking for software consider software that you can try before you buy. Shareware has long been established as a superior marketing method. Allowing consumers to try software prior to purchasing ensures customer satisfaction. You can determine whether application meets your business or personal needs prior to spending any money. A win for the consumer and the developer.

:: Web Logs

February 5, 2004
If your website is up an running, be sure to examine your web logs on a monthly basis. Pay close attention to the number of unique visitors that come to your site each day. Create a spread sheet and track unique visitors from month to month, to ensure that any optimization efforts are working. If you are in need of software to analyze your weblogs I would suggest 1-2-3 Log Analyzer .

A quick traffic check can be done on Alexa.com by entering your web address, Alexa will show if you traffic has increased or decreased over a specific period of time. Incoming links from any of the sites in the Alexa top 100 will likely boost your Google PR and result in better ranking.

:: Web Templates

February 4, 2004
An easy way to create a website is to purchase a web template. The templates contain graphical collections, which means all you need to do is to drop in your content. Using a web template ensures that your website looks professional and alleviates the need for expensive custom graphic work.

:: Content is King

February 3, 2004
Keep in mind that flash is nice but not viewable by all browsers. The best way to satisfy Internet browsers is to create a fast loading site that has relevant content. The old adage "content is king" rules the web. If you develop a quality site, with related content that compliments your product or service you will see your web traffic increase.

:: Search Engines

February 2, 2004
If you are like most small business owners, you've realized the need for an Internet presence. Lets face it, just about all businesses need some sort of website, if only to post your name and address. Having a website is not enough! You will need to deal with search engines, to ensure that when your customers are looking for you, they find your website not a competitors. I discovered a great directory of places that allow you to submit your website.

:: Welcome to the Software Blog

February 1, 2004
Welcome to the New Software Blog. This site is designed as a resource for small business owners. The issues addressed in the blog, will be issues that are faced on a daily by small business owners. Frequently the blog will include software reviews, detailing how different applications can assist with managing your daily business. Please feel free to email the webmaster any comments.

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