Thursday, July 8, 2010

Using Web 2.0 Applications to Grow Small Businesses in Nigeria.

The term Web 2.0 is commonly associated with web applications that helps facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web (www).

A web 2.0 site allows its users to interact with each other as contributors to the passive viewing of information that is provided to them. Some examples of web 2.0 include web-based communities, hosted services, web applications, social networking sites, video- sharing sites, blogs, mashups and folksonomies.

Running a small business in Nigeria or outside it shores is not an easy task. Though most businesses in Nigeria suffer power problems It’s hard to keep up with general administration tasks, stay on top of finances, and even measure your marketing efforts. This is just the beginning as there are lots more that one have to do every day to keep the business alive.

However, there are some useful web applications that not only will make your life easier, but they will also help you grow businesses if applied consistently.

Make your daily life easy

Making your daily life easy is possible using the available technologies and platforms available online in business. From checking your email to dealing with employees, there are some things that one have to do everyday. But by using applications such as Liquid Planner one would be able to do these things in less time so that the individual can focus on growing his/her company. Below are some useful applications to help ease work and speed up progress.

Google calendar- keeping track of your daily meetings doesn’t have to be hard. Not only can you track your daily meetings, but you can share and collaborate your calendar with other co-workers. Some people also like to use Outlook, but what is key is keeping track of schedules.

Gmail- emails can pile up quickly, but with Gmail you can set filters so you don’t have to read useless emails. You can automatically filter messages that aren’t too important so that they won’t clog up your inbox.

Campfire- communication is an important factor to your company’s success. Through campfire you can communicate with everyone in one place and more importantly keep track of the conversation.

Liquid Planner- I can’t stress how important it is to get projects done on time. Liquid Planner will not only help you monitor your projects, but it will calculate the probability of you completing them on time.

Wufoo- whether it is registration forms or contact requests, Wufoo lets you create and manage forms with ease. The best part about Wufoo is that you don’t have to be technical to use it.
Dealing with finances can be made easy

Everybody is in business to make money, but keeping this money in the business is quiet a task for growing organisation or small businesses. Well if you can’t stay on top of your finances you’ll soon realize that it is much easier to spend money than it is to make it. With the following applications not only will you be able to better manage your money, but you will also be able to save money without changing your spending habits.

Proposable - Sending out proposals to potential clients might be a huge task. With Proposable you can create them with little to no effort and see if they are being read through their analytics features.

Freshbooks- Once you have a customer you want to make sure that they actually paying. Managing a few clients is easy, but once you have a handful it gets to be a pain. With Freshbooks you can easily send out invoices. It is important to track your business expenses, but it’s also important for you to track your personal finances. As an entrepreneur there may be times when you’ll have to go without a paycheck.

BillShrink/ Total Card- saving money doesn’t have to be hard. With BillShrink or Total card as the case may apply one can save money on gas, company cell phone plans, and even reduce credit card bills. In Ngeria one could use total card to help save the situation.

Recurly - not only is it hard to setup reoccurring billing, but it’s expensive. With Recurly, you can now charge your customers and manage a subscription based business with little effort.

Leverage the social web

Social web is good platfrom to leverage on to grow your business. Whether you love it or hate it, you have no choice but to embrace it. Everyone is leveraging the social web for instance Facebook, it is now the second most popular website on the web. Here are some social applications that you should be using to stay tops.

Linkedin- Networking is a key part in running a successful business. Even if you don’t have much time, through LinkedIn you can network over the web using linkedin.
Twitter - Reputation matters. When you are small you have to please every one of your customer even if they are wrong. Through Twitter you can see and respond to what people are saying about your company and your competition.

Hootsuite – Hootsuite is a nice site which helps to manage all of your social profiles which can be difficult, but through Hootsuite it’s easy. Hootsuite allows you to do things like schedule tweets on Twitter, track social statistics and even manage your brand.

Wordpress - blogging is a great way to acquire new customers. By using WordPress you can blog to help new customers find out more about your industry, and the solution your product provides.
Get the most out of your day
There isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. Although you can’t change that, you can try to be more efficient so you can get to the things that will help grow your business.

Ta-da list - if you don’t keep track of all the things you need to do, you’ll forgot to do them. Ta-da list is a free application that helps you keep track of your tasks as well as the high priority of each of them. Microsoft outlook could be another substitute here.
RescueTime - you can’t add more hours to the day, but you can get better at making the most out of each day. Through RescueTime you can monitor how you spend your time and optimize it to improve your efficiency.

43 things - One will get so wrapped up with running your business that you’ll forget about your long-term goals. It’s good to have them and with 43things you can record them so you won’t forget what’s important.
Make data driven decisions

The best way to track your growth is to monitor key metrics for your business. Through the following applications, not only will you be able to do that, but you will also be able to optimize your site to increase your growth rate.

Google website Optimizer - spending money on marketing is great, but why not get the most out of your current visitors? Through Google Website Optimizer you can optimize your design to convert visitors into customers.

Google Analytics - keeping track of your website metrics doesn’t have to be expensive. Google Analytics is a free analytical solution that will track your website visitors and tell you if your getting a Return On Investment (ROI).

Crazy Eggs - numbers are great, but sometimes seeing is believing. Through Crazy Egg you can visually see where people click on your website. - if you really want to understand what your users are thinking of your company, you have to survey them. Through you can survey your customers in real time to get accurate feedback.

The new way to get things done

You don’t need to hire employees to get things done. Outsourcing is a great solution to get tasks done quickly and at an affordable price.

O desk - hiring employees is one way to get tasks done, but in the early days of your business, a more affordable way is through oDesk. You can get almost any job done on oDesk at a fraction of the cost.

Mechanical Turk - if you have tedious tasks that need to be done on a budget and quick, Mechanical Turk is the place for you. Unlike other crowd sourcing sites, you can get the job done for little amount of money.

Work doesn’t have to be boring

From sharing funny files with co-works or having fun, there are cool little applications that can make your day brighter.

Dropbox - setting up an internal network to share files with your employees is a cool idea, but it is expensive. Through Dropbox you can do the same thing without breaking the bank.

Pandora - all work and no play can make a miserable day. It’s always a good idea to have some music playing in the background. The cool part about Pandora is that you can create a music channel just for your personal taste.

There are tons of applications that individuals or organisations can use to grow their businesses, but the ones mentioned above have worked well for some individuals and organisations.


  1. HyperOffice Collaboration Software is another web 2.0 tool you might want to consider. It integrates many of the tools you list - calendars, email, project management, web forms etc.

  2. I have gone through the HyperOffice Colloboration Software and i found it interesting.