Event gives 'green' tips to businesses

GLENDALE — A major solution for small businesses battling plunging revenues might start with the simple “green” step of turning computers off at night.

That was one of the many suggestions put forth Tuesday at a small-business workshop held at the Glendale Hilton, where speakers emphasized the value of low-cost online marketing, savings from using new technology to cut down on printouts and opportunities to benefit from federal stimulus contracts.

Revenue sources are shrinking, said Brian Burch, director of small-business marketing for Hewlett Packard, which cosponsored the event, so simple cost-cutting measures and efforts to position for stimulus-related bids could make a major difference for some companies.

The recession has made it more difficult to turn a profit, Burch said, forcing businesses to become more efficient and creative.

“Every source of revenue is being considered, whereas before, business was good,” he said.

While many businesses are cutting down on marketing efforts to make up for cash shortfalls, they could instead be increasing their promotions through inexpensive alternatives to printing, said Kenneth Yancey Jr., chief executive for SCORE, a nonprofit consulting group for small businesses that organized the free half-day workshop in coordination with Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.

“Lots of businesses think that when their client business has dropped, they can step back on marketing as an easy cost to cut, and it’s the worst thing you can do,” Yancey said.

Instead of reducing marketing efforts, businesses could save money by creating their own websites using free or inexpensive programs and online tools, said speaker Mike Kelly, of Infinity Marketing Team.

And to boost Web traffic, companies could also make their sites more easily searchable, either by purchasing online ads or by using key phrases that might show up on relevant Google searches, Kelly said.

Social networking tools, like Facebook and Twitter, could also help bring visitors to a company’s website, and in turn build awareness for a particular product or service, but those efforts will only create a marketing edge if the businesses actively update their sites, Kelly said.

One of the biggest opportunities for small businesses might come from billions in federal stimulus aid that will be available for businesses to bid on, said Marty Keller, director of the governor’s small-business advocate office.

Knowing the requirements for business contractors, who must have disaster-preparedness plans and meet a host of other criteria, will “make it more likely that you have the opportunity to win business,” Keller said.

Glendale business owners said the tips were helpful and planned to use some of the cost-cutting measures.

Although most of the businesses already had their own websites, the most serious consideration for most of them was meeting the government’s criteria for winning a stimulus contract, even if it was not yet clear which fields of work could benefit from the aid funds.

Rachelle Kaplan, co-owner of Gary Kaplan Video, planned to back up her computer files in a safe location away from her office so her business would not be incapacitated in the case of a disaster, which is a government expectation, she said.

“It’s not whether there will be a disaster, it’s just a matter of when, and you better be prepared,” she said.


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