Top 5 gifts for SMBs this holiday season

December 23, 2010

— Mitch Merrifield is senior director of managed computing solutions for Verio, a Web-hosting provider for small and medium-sized businesses worldwide. The views expressed are his own. —

Much of my time throughout the year as well as during the holiday season, is focused on the wishes (and needs) of small business customers. Through the countless discussions with small and medium-sized business leaders across the country, some common wishes paint the picture of the business initiatives critical to ensuring their success in 2011 and beyond.

Based on these discussions, the following is a wishlist for SMBs this holiday season:

1. Increased visibility globally

SMBs want more sophisticated, well-designed websites that outline their brands efficiently and appropriately, are easy to navigate and use and help them grow their business globally. Gone are the days of building a website in any shape or form and trusting people to visit it. Smart SMB decision-makers understand the importance of a strong, reliable website as a business-building tool.

2. On-the-go: Improved workflow

Employee accessibility is critical, and employing a mobile means of communication is crucial to maintaining a tight, cohesive team. SMBs are using more messaging and collaboration tools, including hosted e-mail. They are also viewing smartphones and mobile devices as avenues to do more while on the go.

3. Networking is key

Networking. It may be the most important word in an SMB’s vocabulary. To grow their businesses, SMBs are seeking ways to target and reach customers and prospects more efficiently in the U.S. and globally. SMBs will step up their participation in online trade shows, association events and partnerships that let them reach larger audiences with less time invested.

4. Socialization

Online conversations are proving to be as influential as those held in person. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are more frequently used to obtain the most transparent and up-to-date information. SMBs need to focus on having a strong presence within the social sphere that will equate to a stronger return on investment.

5. Staying one tech ahead

Advances in technology will help propel SMBs to the next level, and cloud computing constitutes a key focus area. SMBs are increasingly seeing its value, so look for more to transition to cloud-computing offerings as a way to drive efficiencies.

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