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Women Entrepreneurs Boot Up More Than Men

There has been a plethora of studies and surveys recently on the computerization of small businesses and their use of the Internet.


Dennis Kennedy, a partner at The Stolar Partnership, a St. Louis law firm, has detailed 12 steps for creating a strategic plan for promoting a website.


Kennedy's advice starts with such basic questions as, "Why do you have this web page?" and "What are your goals for the page?"


Kennedy says promoting your web page is a continuing process that will evolve after a number of false starts, so a written plan will be necessary.


He also suggests making a thoughtful choice of a domain name. "Web users will typically try the most obvious domain name... to find your page before they will resort to searching engines or other finding techniques," Kennedy said.


It's important to list your page effectively on a search engine, he said.


A good promotion involves narrowing the focus to target audiences. Directories, such as Yahoo or FindLaw for attorneys, can allow your page to be included on a specialized list of pages on a given topic.


Reciprocal links and targeted web advertising, announcements and other non-Internet techniques can help promote your site.


Evaluating results on a regular basis is important, Kennedy said. Many pages have a simple counter that counts the number of visitors to a page.


Kennedy's final piece of advice: Go back to the first item (why you have the web page and what are the goals) and start again. He said maintaining a great web page is a commitment.


A study released Sept. 30 by IBM and conducted by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners shows that women entrepreneurs are more actively adopting the internet and new technology for business growth than are men business owners.


The report, "Embracing the Information Age: Comparison of Women and Men Business Owners," is based on a survey of nearly 800 businesses across the United States.


The study said women business owners increased their computer investments in the past year by 60 per cent to $170.3 billion and plan to invest an additional $67.2 billion in computer hardware and software in 1997.


About 23 per cent of women business owners have a home page, compared with 16 per cent of men business owners; 47 per cent of women business owners subscribe to an online service compared with 41 per cent of men.


This is the third annual survey conducted by IBM and NFWBO.


Another study, released recently by Arthur Andersen's Enterprise Group and the National Small Business United, indicates more small businesses are getting on the technology bandwagon.


According to business owners, the top website uses include: reaching new customers (87 per cent); selling goods and services (56.1 per cent); disseminating information more efficiently (45.2 per cent), and supporting global expansion (30.4 per cent).


"The Web has opened up the world to small and mid-sized businesses," said Brian Halminiak, a partner in charge of the Arthur Andersen Enterprise Group in St. Louis.

"Owners now can conduct their day-to-day activities and communicate with clients, suppliers and other contacts anywhere in the world from their chairs."

Southwestern Bell Internet Services offers a single-provider service. According to SWB, many businesses have wasted large sums of money on Web sites that did not meet their needs or goals.


Questions small- and mid-sized business owners should ask are:

  • What matters most in selecting an Internet service provider (ISP)?

  • What will be the main purpose of your site?

  • What will be the main purpose of your site?

  • What do you need to support the features you implement? If you need to use your site for electronic commerce, your needs for speed and security will be different from a site used as a marketing tool.

  • How flexible does your site need to be? Is it just to serve your current situation, or do you want to build a site you can expand as your needs grow and change

  • What kind of network capacity do you expect your target customers to have?

Source: St. Louis Business Journal

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