Google made the rounds in Idaho today with its Get Your Business Online tour, held at the Linen Building. I showed up for networking opportunities mainly, thinking that as a Boise public relations professional and occasional Web site designer with WordPress and FrontPage, I already knew enough. The setting was well-prepared with dozens of laptops ready for work and Google’s meticulousness came through in the color-coded jelly beans, traffic cones and coffee cups.
That jaded outlook went out the door, though, when I started building a Web site through their GYBO platform, which uses Intuit and is extremely affordable. The presenters were great at hand-holding attendees through the process and more assistants moved through the audience, answering questions and offering help.
The processes that freak out a typical small business owner simply were not there: selecting a hosting package, using FTP to upload files, designing pages, installing the root folder, uploading WordPress, using plugins and more was gone. Within a couple of hours, likely 50 small businesses walked out the framework of a Web site, including a domain name, and enough knowledge to finish the work and create a basic Internet presence. Granted, the sites are fairly simple templates, but that’s all many businesses really need.
Given that 58 percent of Idaho businesses still don’t have a Web site, GYBO is probably one of the greatest public services I have seen to businesses – any chamber of commerce or networking group could only hope to make such a significant difference in so many businesses in a few hours. In fact, the Idaho Small Business Development Center helped out and GYBO regularly partners with chambers of commerce. Check out this blog on Blumenthals.com for more detail on GYBO.
Of course, people were introduced to Google’s products and services, but not as much as you might expect. Google tools are crucial to small businesses anyway so learning about them should be part of the package at some point. The focus today, though, really was on getting straggler small businesses – nearly 20 years after the opening of the Internet – to finally get online.