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Online Enterprise

By RK Rishikesh Sinha, New Delhi
(The Article published in the Assam Tribune on September 4, 2010)

The Internet has made the world flat. Now anyone connected to the Internet can peep into any city and get a visual glimpse of its infrastructure and facilities. Running Google Maps through the Guwahati city gives an interesting insight how various educational institutes and business enterprises are taking advantage of the World Wide Web.

Hovering above the Guwahati city, thanks to Google’s satellite imagery, where the city gives a panoramic view of its natural beauty, it also throws up business establishments which have embraced the Internet. For any city, its presence in the Internet speaks a lot. It is found that the city-based educational institutes are the one which has adopted the Internet tool the most, followed by the hotel industry.

Unfortunately, the presence of educational institutes and hotels in the Internet doesn’t paint a rosy picture of the whole city. There are innumerable micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which are oblivious of the advantages of the great communicative tool called the Web. They have not claimed their businesses in the Internet. In consequent of it, they have not been able to reap the benefits that Internet could bring to their businesses. One can’t deny the fact that in the present glocalised world, it's really important to be on the web so that people can have access to one’s business at any time of day. A website comes as an extension of business, a virtual salesman.

Take Guwahati-based pharmacy, there are total three pharmacies which are visible in the whole city in the Google Map. Are pharmacies not important for a city? According to World Bank’s World Development Indicators report (that Google provide) India’s Internet users per 100 people is 4.5 in 2008. And that is also limited to urban metro cities. With the rapid expansion of broadband facility in the tier-II cities, it is necessary that along with the micro and small business enterprises, other professions like doctors, architects, lawyers do place their business in the web.

What stops the small businesses to appreciate the Internet as a marketing tool? There are many reasons which come in the way of its adoption. First, there is lack of knowledge with the Internet as a medium, as a marketing tool. Second, there are myths lingering in the minds of people that it bears a huge cost. It is not completely true. There are resources and systems through which one can showcase their services to the whole world and to the local market at a cost-effective way. Third, those who have gone Google (though Google Inc. refrain using its company as a verb), it is found they have not correctly used the tool due to lack of finance and persons of adequate skills that businesses in this sector usually face. So their presence in the web has not been optimized, which later become a continual headache for the business owners.

Businesses which are considering to ‘go Google’ must tread the path with clear strategy and objective. Since a crystal clear objective will only charts the future course of action. However, small businesses which want to enter into webosphere must take small steps before they incorporate a complete team of web specialists.

What are the small steps and how a self-managed micro enterprise could incorporate Internet technology to their work place? First, claim a business domain in Wordpress or in Blogpost. Doing so, not only your business goes online at a dart price, but you get the time to acclimatize to the working of Internet. Another very important benefit that a non-techie business owner gets while going through Wordpress and Blogpost route is that – it is easy to manage. Second, get a customized email-ID that reflects your domain. You might have seen lot of businesses around you which have their websites but they are still carrying free email services like Gmail, Yahoo!, rediffmail etc. Third, ‘go local’ in the Internet – the area where your business provides its services. Now, major search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing are giving emphasis to local information. So after completing the development of your website, register your domain in these search engines. Fourth, install in your website: analytics and webmaster tools. These tools measure and give update about the health of your website. Fifth, link social networking sites like Orkut, Facebook, LinkedIn etc with your site. It has got immense benefit from the point of view of marketing and search engine indexing.

These are few of the fundamental steps that must be followed by micro and small businesses which are going online. However, there are other lots of dos and don’ts that one must follow in the game of search engines.

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