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Giving a small business a big presence in the industry

Small businesses and start-ups often face ongoing problems posed by larger competing companies that have a bigger budget and more resources. There are plenty of ways that smaller operations can keep up with the titans though if they play their cards right.

In an article for Inc.com, Scott Steinberg, CEO of consulting and product testing firm TechSavvy Global and author of "The Business Expert's Guidebook," provided some direction and advice for any company that wants to make their presence bigger in the industry.

♦ Design a great website. Many people search the internet for a company to do business with before they make their actual move. An established and visually intriguing website oftentimes provides clients with a positive first image of company. If the site looks like it hasn't been updated since Y2K, they'll probably search elsewhere. If a small business has a web presence that jumps out at clients, it will seem like that operation is as qualified as any other.

♦ Make professional conference calls. Using outdated three-way calling technology won't impress any clients or business partners. Telecommunications consulting agencies can help businesses shop for, purchase and integrate new audio and video conferencing technology into any office.

♦ Start an online store, but don't overdo it. "While it's tempting to go big on features and selection here, it often pays to keep things simple," Steinberg wrote. "Start by staying focused on practicality, convenience and popular high-margin goods, then expand organically, rather than overcomplicating your user interface and potentially overwhelming shoppers with too many choices."

♦ Use a virtual secretary. Steinberg wrote that small businesses should set up a toll free number with a "customized receptionist," and have calls forwarded to the manager or business owner's personal phone.