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~by Haley Gray~

Nowadays, if you own a business, chances are it is on the Internet somewhere. People are mentioning it and sharing it on Facebook, or making comments about it on Yelp, or Google, or some other location online. Your online presence is crucial.

I can’t tell you how many times, when I’ve been looking for information or a referral for a particular type of business. I start off by getting the contact information, and then go online to Google and start searching.

 The first thing I do is pull up the website, if I can find one, and the second thing I do is look at online reviews. If they don’t have a website, with published contact information, I become instantly suspicious. If I find any bad reviews, I look to see how many bad reviews there are, then I move along to the next person or business if I see very many of those bad reviews.

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Your website or Facebook page is critical here. If you provide a service, I want to see that others like you, and that there are pictures, if that’s possible. I’d like to see before and after pictures, or other evidence of the work that you do. Not every business can or should give out information online about pricing, but I do believe that where it is appropriate, that information should be included. Also, your contact information should be everywhere on the web, and easily accessible. I prefer to see that you’ve registered with Google, and have posted your address, phone number, and an email address so that you can be contacted. 

Pro Tip: Use a service like Yext to coordinate your address and phone number listings across multiple websites.

I get that a lot of business owners don’t care very much for Yelp or other similar review websites, because people can leave anonymous reviews.  I get that these sites can be a double-edged sword, and they certainly can be impossible to manage and mitigate from a business owner’s perspective.  However, they can also be some of the most honest feedback you can get on a business. I figure where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and you can get a very good feeling on how a business is going to treat you if something goes wrong in those reviews. Obviously, I care that they do everything right the vast majority of the time, but what I really care about is what they do when things go wrong, because they can and will go wrong.

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Notice I’m not suggesting that you should go online and set up accounts on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and create a website on the first day you open your business. Some of those forms of social media can wait. Some of them, you may decide, don’t really apply to your business. You do need to have some sort of appropriately professional presence online, and that is totally do-able without spending a fortune. If someone tells you that you need to spend thousands of dollars for a basic website, run the other way. There are other ways to set it up without spending huge dollar amounts. Be smart and be frugal. Don’t spend all of your time online, because that’s not how you make money. ‘Likes’ on Facebook don’t equate to clients. 

You must have a solid, professional presence to attract the right kinds of customers.

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Meet the Author: Haley Gray

As founder and owner of Leadership Girl, Haley Gray offers Business Coaching, support and resources to entrepreneurs. Whether you want to get a new business off the ground, or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.

To learn more about Leadership Girl’s Business Coaching Services, please visit our Services Offered.

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