Who can remember a time when Google wasn’t a part of the everyday lexicon? As consumers, we got hooked initially by its amazing search capabiliites but now turn to it automatically for a wide variety of activites that include managing images, calendars, documents and maps.
But Google’s also long been at the forefront of providing tools to help small businesses get online and work better, smarter, faster, more efficiently and more safely.
Google’s tool for small businesses, under the broad heading Google Business Solutions, are extensive. And regardless of what you want to do as a small business, from starting up to targeting new customers to getting into the cloud, there’s a lot here for you. A lot. And at little to no cost.
At first, navigating through all this can seem a bit daunting. But Google provides a wealth of learning tools, too, including online instructional webinars and videos. It’s probably a good idea to set aside a few blocks of time to spend browsing through the wealth of information, and as you do, formulate a few objectives for what you’d like to accomplish by using some of Google’s tools.
A few main subgroups under the Google Business Solutions banner will help you get your feet wet. Start with Google+ Business, which, among other things, can help you “get found” more effectively in your customer searches and measure social media results. This is also where you’ll find Google Hangouts, which brings you face to face with customers by helping you set up video conversations with them.
Google Ads provides promotional tools, include AdWords. It’s a place to put your ads and optimize search results by selecting and incorporating key words related to your business or the products and services you offer. Pay-per-click simply means you pay only when searchers click on your ad to get more information or make a purchase. There’s also AdSense, which helps you make money by displaying ads from other related kinds of businesses.
Gathering, analyzing and figuring out how to use data is a continuing—and often baffling—challenge for small businesses. But Google Analytics can open up a whole new world in the way of things like intelligence, standard reports and even custom reports. These tools make it relatively easy to know if what you’re doing is working and can help guide you in tweaking your strategy.
And there’s more. In addition to these, Google offers even more ways for small businesses to keep moving forward, improve productivity and function efficiently. Entrepreneur.com (October 2012) says that Google Apps for Business is a great jumping off point for businesses that want to get into cloud computing. In fact, it calls Google Apps for Business “…the closest thing to an all-in-one start-up package for small business as there is” …because it includes everything from gMail to shared calendars and Google docs, the suite of office and productivity tools from Google.
But entrepreneur.com also points out that learning to navigate the tools can be time-consuming and frustrating. So it offers a variety of tips for making the process less painful, from setting up your accounts, to adding employees to tapping into Google Drive, the online file storage, sharing and editing tool (This is where you’ll find Google docs). Read more tips here:
Google Apps Marketplace provides a one-stop, one log-in location for all the business apps an organization currently uses or might want to add in the future.
Google’s never been accused of thinking small. True to form, it’s most recent launch is the website Google for Entrepreneurs, which seeks to bring all things entrepreneurial in under one very large umbrella. From workshops to networking events to mentoring sessions, you can find resources around the world that support all facets of startups and entrepreneurial needs and ventures. There are all sorts of online programs and tools to help grow small businesses and partnerships with business accelerators and incubators, including Women.2.0 [http://www.women2.com/]. No matter what you’re doing or interested in, this is an exciting site to browse!
Luckily for “the rest of us”, there is Google Business Solutions All-in-One for Dummies (yes, one of the ‘Dummies’ series)—eight self-contained mini-books that seem to cover it all. Not only will it help you navigate all that Google has to offer small business but it also includes some freebies, too. Find out more at http://www.amazon.com/Google-Business-Solutions-All-Dummies/dp/B0057DB9OQ.