We’re back with another 1-on-1 interview. This week’s guest is Tom Byun, Vice President of Yahoo! Small Business. He joined me in a live Hangout, and yes, we have video!
According to Tom, Yahoo! Small Business serves over 1 million small business customers, primarily from the U.S. Yahoo! helps them with their online presence, Web hosting, and eCommerce solutions. Yahoo! also assists small businesses in driving more sales, he told us. Yahoo! serves small businesses of all sizes – from solo entrepreneurs to ones with many employees — from local businesses to online businesses. Many of them fall in the 10-employee-or-under size range, however.
Below are a few highlights of that discussion, paraphrased in places.
Question 1: What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen [since last year] when it comes to small businesses?
We have a large group of merchants that [we serve] and year over year, we’re seeing double digit growth, but it is slowing down.
Another trend we’re observing is … we all know with the Internet that there’s been a fair amount of fragmentation in terms of services that small businesses use to get customers. Back in the old days, you just put up your listing on the Yellow Pages or the White Pages and that’s how people called you.
But now with the proliferation of Internet services, you have everything from search and SEO and now with social and mobile, the acceleration of mobile, there just continues to be more and more outlets for small businesses to access customers.
Question 2: When you talk to small businesses … what are they asking you to help them with?
What’s top of mind is … they want to know [what it takes] to get that next sale. It’s all about getting that next customer.
They want to be able to cut through the clutter and just find one or two tools that can help them. And often the advice I start with is, focus on the fundamentals. You’ve got a business to run… .
And you only have so much time in the day. So just focus on some very basic things… to attract that next business that you need.
Question 3: Are a lot of them focused on how they can leverage social media?
Social media is clearly important and it’s clearly playing a more critical role. Putting links on social media … is becoming a vehicle for driving traffic to their business. That’s how a lot of small businesses are being found….
But when you think about social, think about which customers you are going after. I was meeting with a merchant … they’re in the … wholesale lighting business. Facebook is not necessarily a place where they’re going to try to do online sales. … So really understand your audience. … Start out with which audience you’re going after, and which medium you’re going to use.
Small businesses are still struggling … with marketing … [having only so many dollars to spend]. Focus on the fundamentals. Things like directories. You’d be amazed if you … look at stats … a lot of consumers are still finding [businesses] through directories. A lot of these directories are being accessed not only through desktop, but … through mobile access points.
Resources mentioned in this video include:
- Yahoo! Small Business,
- Yahoo! Small Business Advisor (an information resource)
- Yahoo! LocalWorks (a place to list your business accurately and manage how it appears on 40 directory sites across the Web).
To listen to Tom in his own words, and to hear the full interview, we’ve embedded the video below.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.