When looking for information on a new topic, where do you go first? Most people would answer "the Internet." Now that we find ourselves in this wonderful information age, it's remarkably easy to find everything from advice on buying a dog to finding a lawyer or looking up the time of the church picnic.

What does this mean for the small business owner? It means that a web presence is absolutely vital in growing your business. Word-of-mouth and referrals are the best way to spread news about your company, but even your existing customers may want to find out more about your hours or fees or services. And who's going to turn down the business from a customer who chooses your business because of information found on the web?

"But I can't afford a web designer," you might say. It really doesn't need to be as complicated as all that. Sure, companies like Target or Disney or Coke can have videos and close-up pictures and even games. If you’re not running one of those companies, you just want a web presence that will help people find you and the information they need about you. Even a casual computer user can get going with website-building software. Many types, such as SiteSpinner and Ewisoft, are free downloads. You will have to spend a bit of time perusing them to find the one that includes the features you want and directions you can easily follow.

You can build your web presence even further through the use of a weblog (commonly known as a "blog"). Informative articles and up-to-date information about your business can help potential customers find you and make the decision to use your services over that of a competitor. Again, you don’t need to be intimidated by the Internet. There is plenty of help for the creation and maintenance of a blog, most notably the free download WordPress. This flexible application can assist you in customizing and optimizing the content you provide.

If you consider yourself more of a business person than a creative type, you may be stumped for ideas. Again, don't let the notion of a web presence intimidate you! Begin by deciding what information customers will most need (e.g., general introduction, directions, calendars). Find sites you admire and decide what about them catches your attention. Get started on blogging ideas by checking out a WordPress gallery to see how others have incorporated written updates.

On of the biggest advantages of the Internet is its flexibility. You can begin with baby steps, whatever minimal work makes you comfortable, and eventually lead up to a complete, customer-generating, web presence.

By Elle Wood

Elle Wood likes to share her love of Wordpress with businesses big and small. For more information regarding Wordpresss, please visit http://www.welovewp.com.