You don’t need to be a tech junkie to get high (stats) online

Business News Daily nails it: “Tech can play a crucial role in rebalancing, reconstructing, and reinvigorating small and midsize businesses.”

The question is HOW?

Get high on stats with pfiregroup

We got to chat with Sheldon Marais of pfireGroup (pronounced “fire” like “Pfizer”) and he gave us some invaluable advice on this topic.

Don’t worry, social media doesn’t byte.

We asked Sheldon what a complete newbie should have when it comes to their small business’s IT needs. First and foremost, no matter the size, you need to implement 5 fundamental basics:

  1. Have a hosted email address (Confused? Read on.)
  2. Have a domain (as above)
  3. “Data is key.”
  4. Make sure you’re secure (think viruses).
  5. Good, reliable internet (We all know that one, right?)

"Any online presence is an investment."

Sheldon explains that, as much as you may feel that something like marketing deserves more time and money than having these 5 fundamentals in place, having them means that you’re focusing on your branding. And we all know that branding = marketing.  

(PS If you haven’t already, figure out what your brand is. Who are your customers, what do you offer them and what logo can they associate you with?)

Love at first site

Email addresses. They’re the new business cards. If you have a Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo (you get the idea) email address, it screams unprofessional. A person’s perception of your business is paramount, says Sheldon. Basic fundamental number 1: There’s a big difference when a potential client sees “” instead of “”.

Your own email address is literally immeasurable and entirely worth it.

Basic fundamental number 2: Get your own domain. It means having that valuable email address, but it also means you get a website. Depending on your ISP, your site could be a basic landing page or a more developed website that acts like an online brochure and store.

We nearly fall over when Sheldon says, “Not everyone has to have a website.” But he explains that having a basic landing page (rather than that full-blown – and pricey – website) is the must-have. Yes, expand that site and brand the heck out of it when you have the funds but in the beginning, that professional email address and a basic landing page will do wonders.

Phishing – and not the type you like

Basic fundamental number 3 and 4 are connected: Have data. Take. Care. Of. It.

You need to have some kind of cloud or online backup. If a business loses its data, there’s a roughly 80% chance that “within a year or so, they’ll close,” says Sheldon. He gives the example of a wedding photographer: “They go to a wedding, they take all their photos, they download those images, they haven’t backed it up… And their machine crashes… You can’t redo that wedding – it’s gone.”

“There’s no one on earth that can change that into a positive,” he says and even the optimist in us agrees. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a danger for only businesses in the event industry. Losing data is devastating for any business, at any size.

Security is key. Just like you don’t want to lose the information you’ve so studiously built up, you also don’t want a virus to send your valued clients spam emails advertising lonely, sexy women.    

Common denominator to all the above? Basic fundamental number 5: reliable internet. Get it. Now.
pfiregroup stats are important
Google’s great – if you play their game. And you can!

Sheldon goes on to give us some tips around Google. The sceptic in us wonders if it’s actually good for our business. All the confusing name changes don’t help: Google+, Google Places, My Google, Google My Business and now Google Business Profile (GBP). But don’t let that deter you. These free services, including GBP, are invaluable and they work across all the different Google tools.

Setting up a GBP means “you can be found”, says Sheldon. It links to your (snazzy) email address, your physical premises if you have, your contact numbers, your website… everything. And it’s free.     

But. You need to play the game. Don’t ignore those Google Alerts and remember, as Sheldon says, “The more you update, the higher you rank.” Google’s objective is having exact info that’s found as quick as possible. That means that if you’re up to date and accurate, Google loves you.

Ready, set, go!

“Small businesses that utilize digital advancements earn twice as much revenue per employee, experience greater rates of revenue growth, and have above-average employment growth.”

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