What stops small businesses from stepping up to this level? For many, the barriers are cost, complexity and inconvenience. By its nature, a small business typically has a small budget and an equally small staff. Unlike the larger companies it competes with, a small business generally can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars to buy a server, create a complicated infrastructure and hire an IT technician to keep it all running smoothly.
The good news is that some new offerings are cropping up that allow you to establish a Web presence without heavy-duty in-house technical resources and a big cash outlay. For example, Microsoft Corp. has a new Internet-based service called Microsoft Office Live, which at the most basic level provides a small business with a domain name, e-mail accounts and a Web site for free.* It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways today to get your business on the Internet. And, because it’s supported by advertising revenue, and the advertising is designed to be unobtrusive and not appear in the customer’s public-facing Web sites, the basic offering is free. Yes, it’s free, and you can sign up to test-drive the service at http://www.officelive.com.