9 Steps for Managing Small Business IT

Information Technology has never been more affordable. Small businesses can now take advantage of technology that will help them level the playing field and compete with larger companies, even on a global scale. Yet, the costs for small businesses that compete with you have come down too. How do you use IT to gain a competitive advantage?

Business leads – IT follows

1. Use IT to provide value to your customers

If IT does not add value for your customers, what's the point? Technology should allow you to either, lower costs, provide better customer service, or develop new products and services your customers need. If deploying new technology does not do one of these, do not bother.

2. Do not buy more complexity than you need.

Efficiency is found in simplicity – fewer moving parts. Do not buy feature laden software if simple software gets the job done. However, you should take care to analyze and anticipate your needs so you do not under buy. A good tactic is to plan for a progress of features or capabilities that match your expected growth. Choose software that is easily upgraded and allows you to use your existing data with new versions or modules.

3. Apply technology only if it improves a process

A manual process is often the most efficient. Do not spend 200 man hours implementing a technology that will save you 8 man hours a month. Any technology should also add customer value over and above the manual process.

4. Monitor capacity, performance and health

Do not just set it and forget it. There are too many inexpensive management tools that will allow you to monitor your systems and alert you in time to avert a disruption of service. Something as simple as running out of disk space can cause a service outage that takes days to recover from.

5. Be proactive instead of reactive

Monitoring your systems also allows you to collect data that can be used for trend analysis. For example: By knowing the rate of increase in your disk space usage you can predict when you will need to add capacity and plan accordingly.

Replace your equipment before it wears out or becomes unreliable. Practice "life cycle management." Budget for computer replacement every 3 to 5 years. For example: if you have 40 computers, consider budgeting to replace 10 of them each year.

6. Plan for contingency

Hardware fails. Users screw up. Viruses are always a threat. It's prudent and cost effective to use redundant disk technology on your server, but you do not have to go crazy trying to build fault tolerance into all your systems. If you have 20 computers, having a spare ready to go only costs you an additional 5%. That's a very cost effective way to increase availability. I've worked with large companies that will spend days trying to source parts and repair a computer while the user can not work.

7. Provide operational structure

Define the processes you will use …

Benefits of SEO Marketing Strategies for Automotive Dealerships

Every business, including an auto dealership, wants its business website to appear in top search engine rankings when people search for their products. In order to get into top results, they need to optimize their website's visibility on search engines. Unlike the PPC advertising, which is for short-term, SEO is a long-term strategy that can improve your business' online presence.

In this article, we will know how SEO marketing strategies benefit auto businesses.

Improve organic search listings: The main purpose of SEO is to make your business rank well in the search engine result pages (SERP). Having said that, it's not as easy as it is the case with PPC. A SEO strategy involves various critical factors that when made work together improve your organic search listings. Improved organic search listings result in increased visibility, reliability and higher traffic for your website.

Drive relevant traffic: Keyword research is the main aspect of SEO – as it's not just important to appear on search engines, but to appear for the related search. By using targeted keywords, a business can drive refined traffic (people searching for the products you offer).

A perfect SEO strategy makes use of revenue generating keywords, which are selected after thorough analysis (in terms of usability, competitiveness, etc.). These primary keywords, focused around your business, maximize the effectiveness of the SEO strategy – bringing quality traffic and improve the rankings of the website in the search engines.

Improved visibility: A website appearing high on the SERP is considered to be reliable and most importantly, will be perceived as the market leader by the people. Techniques such as link building, local SEO, etc., help in optimizing the web presence of your website, making it appear in the niche marketplaces.

Work for both small and large businesses: SEO results are primarily based on the functional aspects such as quality content, quality links and high website standards in terms of user-friendliness, easy navigation, accessibility, etc. All these aspects that make a SEO strategy successful can be developed by both small businesses and large businesses alike and with consistent and focused effort.

Higher leads, sales and ROI: High targeted traffic ultimately means more leads, which can later be turned in to sales. SEO strategies based on the organizational strategy including features such as understanding the customers, call to action keywords, etc., help in better customer acquisition and thus generate greater ROI. Further, websites referred through top organic listings are trusted the most and the customers tend to stick to these websites, so ensuring future income too.

Cost-effective: SEO strategies are cheaper and offer long lasting results. There is no cost incurred by businesses for getting their websites indexed by the search engines, it is only for enhancing the functionality of the website, the cost is incurred. Unlike PPC, SEO strategies are offered at fixed cost (for long-term). Even when a campaign closes to end, with just minimal updates you can see your website still ranking higher.

As majority of the searches being …