My Silicon Valley Tour - Small Business Focus For Big Tech Companies
Thursday, October 29, 2015
by Kelly Weaver, Small Business Development Center Regional Director
I was recently part of a small group of SBDC staffers from around the nation to tour three tech giants in Silicon Valley: Intuit, Google and Facebook. Each of these companies are reaching out to the small business community in ways that can hugely effect the success of a small business. Here’s a few things I learned on the trip.
As the maker of QuickBooks, the most widely used small business accounting software, Intuit has had a long standing relationship with small businesses. Their research shows that the average small business spends 139 hours per year doing bookwork. While most business owners would like that number to be 0, Intuit is committed to streamlining processes to bring this number down. Intuit continues to close the gap between their online and desktop versions and will significantly improve the inventory function of QuickBooks Online by year end. Of all new QuickBooks users, 80% are choosing the online product. While they will continue to support their desktop version, they are putting most of their research and development dollars into their online platform. QuickBooks also has a free small business community called Own (ownit.com) and a financing network where businesses can get preapproved for loans based on their financial information (quickbooksfinancing.com).
Google was the next stop on the tour. Created in a dorm room at Stanford in 1996, the company dominates the world of search such that is has become a verb – “just Google it”. As one SBDC director put it, small businesses that do not have an online presence are invisible to today’s customers. Are you invisible? Would you have considered not being in the phone book 10 years ago? The best SEO cheat in the world right now is creating a Google My Business account. For 15 minutes of your time and zero dollars, you can show up on the first page in a Google search for your category and location. You can check your listing on Google Search and Maps and set it up or edit it as needed at www.gybo.com. The Resources link has details about their free website program and Google’s small business community. Google also has tools like Google Analytics (free) for website activity and Google Adwords for driving traffic to your website or store. Google has provided us some educational tools about these subjects that we’d be glad to share and discuss how they might help your business.
Last but not least on the tour, is the youngest of our Silicon giants, Facebook. Can you believe this company is only eleven years old!? Currently 45 million businesses have a Facebook page with the most recent 1 million added in just the last month! Their mantra is that if you can use a personal Facebook page, you can manage a small business Facebook page. Given that 1 minute of every 5 minutes spent on apps is spent on Facebook and Instagram, having a Facebook page for your business puts you in a mobile friendly space where people already are. During our tour, Facebook announced several changes intended to make business pages more relevant for businesses. These changes include the addition of a Call to Action button, features such as product and service listings, and messaging options for moving public comments to private messaging which is critical when collecting customer sensitive information. Insights are also available to analyze the activity on your page, and you can create very targeted ads and boost posts to gain greater awareness for your business. You can learn more on all these subjects at fb.com/business.
The digital age is here and it’s not going away so it’s time to get on board!
Kelly Weaver is the Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center in Aberdeen which offers free, confidential business consulting to start up and existing businesses. She can be reached at (605) 626-2565 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Center is hosted by GROW South Dakota (also known as Northeast South Dakota Community Action Program).
FUN FACTS FROM THE TOUR:
Intuit is considered ‘old’ in Silicon Valley, having been around for 30 years.
Google employs six bicycle mechanics to maintain its fleet of bikes provided for employees to travel around campus.
Facebook onboarded 160 new employees the day of our tour.
Category: GROW SD