This post will discuss what I believe to be the absolute basics so that small businesses have (or increase) their online presence. Note that these online services are either completely free, or we'll be exploring the free alternative only.
1. Nowadays, one of the first steps (or only step) people take to find services is to run a search on Google, so you definitely want to add an entry in "Google My Business"; that way you'll show up on search results, on "nearby places" (Google Maps), and will inform potential customers about your business hours, and your web page if you have it.
Basically you add your business, or take ownership if you find a listing, then you request verification (like a postcard, or via a phone call that gives you a code), and then you can finish adding or modifying any applicable information about your business.
2. A Facebook (business) page is a great alternative to a web page, as it's free, easy to create and maintain, so no need to pay a web designer/company. This type of page will allow you to promote your business, inform your customers, and receive feedback. You need to already have a personal Facebook account to then create your business page. Here's an easy video tutorial from Melissa Fietsam to get you started:
If you rather have a more traditional page, still for free, easy to create and maintain, I would recommend you try Weebly, which is the service hosting this web page.
3. If you are still using an e-mail from Telus, MCSnet, or Eastlink, switch now! These e-mail accounts depend on you staying with your current internet service provider, and offer little else than just e-mail. Instead, an e-mail account from Gmail, Outlook.com or similar online services will offer you more storage, better spam handling, an attractive interface, and they will remain at your service regardless of what company you get your internet from.
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Tips for Local Businesses
From increasing your online presence, to managing your computers at work, here are some free or low-cost tools and bits of information for our local business owners.