One of the top things I hear from the hundreds of businesses we work with every year in Mendocino County, is “how do I get my business onlineâ€. Clients ask us everyday, “Where do I even start?†or “I want to learn that digital stuff but I don’t have timeâ€. As a person who had her own small graphic design business back when all you needed was a Rapidograph pen, a drafting table and a telephone, I know how daunting dipping a toe in the digital world can be. But whether it’s improving your Instagram, or just figuring out how to ship your products across the U.S., adding digital know how to your current business practices is a great way to extend your reach, get new customers and provide longevity for your business.

We’re in a new economy, where online collaboration is the name of the game. And although many of the businesses here in Mendocino County pride themselves on one-to-one interactions with known customers, what some businesses don’t realize is how effective it is to connect digitally with customers. It’s easy to bring that warm, personal interaction online, and in the process expand your customer base. There are also so many new digital tools to make your business (and life) easier to manage. From scanning all your important documents into the cloud so you’re prepared in case of an emergency, to tracking inventory, having face to face conference calls with potential customers, or even doing your books online. There’s also selling your products on a platform like Etsy or Shopify, getting in touch with new and existing customers with social media or a simple email newsletter, or broadcasting what you do in a podcast.

Here are some tips for going digital in 2019:

Start Small

Dip your toe in by experimenting with something small. That could be signing up for newsletters online to see how they are written or just checking out your competition’s online presence. Focus on one social channel.


Work with other complimentary businesses to collaborate and cross promote each other on social media. We need to support each other in our rural communities and a rising tide lifts all boats. So reach out to another business and cross promote.


Technology changes rapidly so find the joy in life long learning and take one of our workshops and learn how to improve your online presence,  get creative with your social media or rock your Facebook page. Sometimes a class can be all it takes to get you up and running.


Pick one digital goal for the year and break it down into small steps you can do easily every week. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Don’t let this be a barrier. Once the task becomes a habit, move on to learn something new.

Do Something Different

Most of all, make 2019 the year you do something different in your business. Change isn’t always easy, but it can definitely be fun.

Remember at West Business Development Center, we’re here to help. Whether you are a business of one or 100, we have low-cost workshops and absolutely free business advising on anything you might have a challenge with. From online marketing, to hiring, to how to get a loan, just book with us and we’ll assign you a free expert advisor to work just for you.

At West Business Development Center we’re looking forward to 2019 and beyond. We hope you are too and can’t wait to help you.