In October, we reported  that Yahoo Small Business offers drag-and-drop website building tools. And it offers site hosting services too. First create that online presence. Then ‘Business Maker’ — a new platform created by Yahoo Small Business  — helps you to market it.
The platform also helps you in important offline business matters. Small Business Trends spoke with Iravati Hingne from Yahoo to find out what those matters are.
Among other things, the grouping provides options for your Point of Sale or POS system. As a result, Business Maker guides customers through recommended products based on several factors. For example, it looks at their industry, stage of growth, etc.
Iravati Hingne heads all new product development for Yahoo Small Business. She joined the group in 2015 and is focused on building products and features that drive efficiency for small businesses. Before joining Yahoo Small Business, Hingne worked as a product manager at Gap Inc., where she was responsible for building customer-centric features on the ecommerce website of Gap Inc. Other roles she held were product management at Walmart e-commerce, and as a consultant at Tata Consultancy Services.
* * * * *
Who the Platform is for and How it’s Different
Small Business Trends: What can Yahoo’s new platform ‘Business Maker’ do for a small business owner?
Iravati Hingne: Business Maker moves away from the concept of an app marketplace, which typically creates more work for business owners as they have to review multiple solutions to every problem, create multiple accounts and learn a variety of interfaces just to start managing their solutions. Instead, Business Maker customers are guided on their path to success, with products recommended specifically for them, based on factors that include their industry, their stage of growth and their goals. It takes the guesswork out of starting a company. It provides entrepreneurs with everything they need to start and grow their business. Specifics include:
- Business Plan Creator
Plan your objectives and strategies for achieving them
- Legal Package
Determine your business designation and make it official
- Online Presence
Websites, domains, and email to get your business online
- Point of Sale
Hardware and software for customer payments
Maintain, monitor, and promote your local business listings online
Choosing the Right POS
Small Business Trends: What’s special about Business Maker’s POS component?
Iravati Hingne: The point-of-sale solution was built to enable merchants to securely take multiple forms of payments — credit, debit and cash — anywhere and anytime. We also designed it with a back-office component, allowing business owners to manage their inventory and catalogs, take orders, create refunds and more.
Small Business Trends: You’ve seen many small businesses launch and then not grow, unfortunately. What are some mistakes they’re making? What’s the most egregious one when launching?
Iravati Hingne: Some entrepreneurs will take short cuts when starting a business to cut costs, mostly seen in legal obligations or web design. In some instances, they don’t understand or they try to avoid certain legal responsibilities or fees such as properly filing for taxes or registering for a business license, which could be detrimental in the future. Another mistake they make is not putting time, money or effort into their website.
Entrepreneurs might not understand how crucial it is to have a well-designed website that is user friendly and easy to use on any device. Business Maker provides these tools. We help entrepreneurs set up their business’ legally with Legal Inc. and set up a wow-worthy site with a personalized domain. It’s always best to start with a business plan. Some people think they can just wing it when starting a business, but there are a lot of aspects to consider – from identifying customers, to understanding your competitive advantage, to creating financial projections. Building a proper plan at the outset will ensure your business is set up for success.
Trends for 2020 and Beyond
Small Business Trends: As we head into a new decade, what trends are on your radar?
Iravati Hingne: We’re seeing small business retailers better use their online presence to drive offline engagement. They’re using more automated and sophisticated marketing tools to better target customers, expand their reach, and drive traffic to brick-and-mortar. We see a few interesting technology trends we anticipate small businesses will adopt in 2020.
First, small businesses will integrate AI more deeply into their overall business strategy, thus transforming business practices and modernizing marketing tactics. We also expect the world to become more regulated in 2020 and will see the need for small businesses to seek help in managing GDPR  and other privacy laws. Finally, we believe small businesses will increasingly adopt technologies and practices that support “always-on” customer communications, with automated support chatbots, 24/7 social media responses, and spreading staff hours to monitor email and phone lines beyond a standard work day.