Google and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have developed a set of online resources, tools, and training designed to help small business owners make themselves more visible online.
Accessible from the SBA's home page , Google's "Tools for Online Success" site currently contains nine videos. Each Google-produced video features a small-business owner speaking about a particular aspect of creating an online presence, from building a web page to conducting online promotions.
"We worked together to identify small-business success stories," said Joseph Zepecki, spokesman for the U.S. Small Business Administration, in an interview. "They're telling the story of how these brick-and-mortar small businesses are succeeding online."
In addition, Google produced a 24-page booklet that will be distributed by the SBA at resource partner locations across the country, including small business development centers (SBDCs) and chapters of SCORE, an organization that matches volunteer counselors with small-business owners.
The funding for the initiative came from Google, and resources described in the videos and in the booklet include Google Sites, Google Places, Webmaster Tools, Google AdWords, Webmaster Central, Google Analytics, Website Optimizer, Google Checkout, Google AdSense ,and Google SiteSearch.
The target audience for the site includes B2B companies as well as consumer-oriented storefronts. "If you're trying to find a supplier, or make yourself visible to other customers, you're looking on the Web," said Karen Mills, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration in a webcast press conference.
The inclusion of B2B fits well with the Obama Administration's National Export Initiative, described in a White House Executive Order as an effort to "improve conditions that directly affect the private sector's ability to export."
"We're trying to grow exports in this country, and there's no better way to get an international presence than by getting an internet presence," said John Hanke, vice president of product management, Google, during the webcast.
The Small Business Act of 1953 authorizes the SBA to enter into partnerships and co-sponsorships with public-sector and private-sector organizations. While most of the co-sponsorship arrangements involve symposia, luncheons and seminars, and workshops, any "appropriate" activities "for the benefit of small business" may qualify for SBA co-sponsorship. Within the technology industry, Dell is another company working with the SBA on the production of video-on-demand for growing businesses, according to the SBA's Fall 2009 Semiannual Report to Congress.