The internet and SMEs

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Definition
The internet is a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols. Simply, you can say the internet is a worldwide system of computer networks which can communicate with one another.

Introduction
The internet is a wealth of information, a wealth of connections, and a bank for networking. It is the key communication channel ruling the world at the moment. At this point in the world, there are fewer places without internet. There is nothing you cannot find on the internet. Information is consistently updated and posted online such that the internet has become a tool we cannot live without.
When you need anything all you hear someone say is “Google it”; that is to say go online using the Google search engine (the most popular search engine) to search for it. It is no wonder that everyone is literally glued to their smartphones, tablets and laptops. You can find anything you need online.

The Importance of the internet to SMEs
As the one stop shop for information for everyone including potential customers, it is imperative for SMEs to fully utilize the internet for their business benefit. Some of the benefits derived from the internet include:

 Increased Presence
If your company shows up when someone searches a keyword associated with your business, you have a greater chance of gaining new customers and increasing your sales. All businesses need to have an online presence to either retain customers or gain new customers.

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It is important to get your business location on Google Maps since it is now the tool used most widely for location search. It is vital to answer reviews on all channels you find your business to reassure your customers and to collect insight on customers’ views about your business. Getting your business on multiple sites online will help you increase your online presence.

 Inexpensive focused marketing
According to David Weedmark at Chron, the traditional methods of marketing including billboards, TV and newspaper ads all have advantages, but two disadvantages they share are high cost and a lack of precision in their audiences.
However, marketing on the internet helps you target specific types of prospective customers with customized ads. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube all offer advertisements where you can have your website appear when anyone searches for specific keywords associated to your business. It is a cheaper medium for marketing with a higher response rate.

 Increased Sales
Most businesses are converting their websites into ecommerce sites to help them sell their products online. Ecommerce is certainly the way forward for most SMEs. Aside having a walk-in shop where you can serve regular customers, you can also get an online shop to serve customers online. Customers place convenience over everything and if they can complete a transaction with just a tap of their phones without going through the hassle of locating your business first, you just increased customer satisfaction as well as sales.

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 Decreased costs and increased productivity
The internet makes it easier to run a paperless business. You can use the internet to create and email invoices at a very low cost as compared to the cost of printing and delivery. It gives employees the chance to work on the move, either from home or at different locations so far as they have a smartphone or laptop with internet access. You can check on global trends as well as do research on your competitors to see how they are doing. This helps you make informed decisions that go a long way to increase productivity. Spending less time on certain things, gives more time to be efficient and productive.

 Build networks and partnerships
The internet gives you information on potential investors as well as business communities that are relevant to your industry. LinkedIn is a social media channel made to connect employers to employees. It is also a platform that can connect businesses to businesses and enhance your network. Building networks and partnerships are definitely an integral process for the growth of SMEs.

Conclusion

With advancement in technologies comes new uses of the internet. With information becoming so easily accessible, SMEs have all the tools for growth just at their fingertips. You don’t need to look far to make a sale or to even pitch your business idea to someone. The internet provides all answers and is the most important tool for your business growth. Take advantage of it!

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