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Capitalize on your business\\\'s online presence

As more and more people are going online, small business owners can no longer afford to ignore the internet.
By Eush Tayco |

For small and medium businesses, the internet is becoming an important resource. According to Google\\\'s \\\'The Next Billion\\\' event from earlier this month, between now and 2015, 500 million new users from emerging markets are going to come online—and one of the first things they\\\'ll do is to use the web to express their entrepreneurial spirit, grow their businesses, and share their culture.


Nelson Mattos, VP for emerging markets at Google, reckons there are 130 million SMBs in emerging markets, but only 2 percent of them are online. As more people in Asia are going online, this represents a huge opportunity for SMBs to expand their reach and grow like never before, reaching new markets and new customers they wouldn\\\'t be able to do if they aren\\\'t online.


With regards to going online, Mattos says that SMBs fall into these four categories:


1. Businesses with no web presence whose owners are also offline — even without taking the effort to launch a full-fledged online presence, these businesses can benefit simply by posting their location and contact information on an online map such as Google Maps. This way, "immediately, more people can start finding you," Mattos says. "The moment you\\\'re in Maps, you are automatically searchable [on Google]…you are exposed to customers you would have never been exposed to before."



2. Businesses with no web presence whose owners are online — these are businesses whose owners are internet-savvy, with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, etc, but haven\\\'t figured out how to bring their businesses online yet. These owners can take advantage not only of search, but also of Google+ and other social media outlets to create a presence for their business and better interact with their customers.


3. Online businesses that showcase their products online — the next step after establishing a web presence is for businesses to offer their services for sale online. Unlike the developed world which has online markets such as Amazon and eBay, there is no such space for emerging markets. To fill this gap, Google launched Google Trader in Thailand and other emerging markets (but no Philippine version yet).


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