The web is working for part-time businesses

Part-time businesses play an important role in our lives and in our economy. From the gardening mom who sells her plants, to the hobbyist antiques dealer, to the weekend wedding photographer, people everywhere are earning extra money while doing what they love.

Research released yesterday by The Internet Association shows that the web is powering American part-time businesses. Nine out of 10 part-time business owners rely on the Internet to conduct their business, and the impact is significant. Internet enabled part-time businesses employ 6.6 million people and contribute $141 billion to the U.S. GDP.

We're proud to play our part to support these business owners as they grow their businesses online. Technology is at its best when it makes lives easier—and every day, our products help businesses find new customers and publishers earn money from their content while running more efficiently. With the power of the web, businesses can build better lives for their families and strengthen our economy while doing what they love.



Congratulations to America’s eCities

I love to discover local gems that help make a community unique. Sometimes those gems can be around the corner—like Cafe Borrone, my favorite for Sunday brunch with my family; the food is great and even the dog is welcome on their patio. Sometimes I find those great places when I am on the road—places like Frank in Austin, Texas with their epic sausages or Boulevard Coffee in Ashland, Ore. which has great coffee and friendly people. Some of the best things I discover without even leaving home—like Casa Kids, which designs original children’s furniture from their studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., or Sticks in West Des Moines, Iowa, which sells hand-carved and hand-painted treasures.

The web helps people everywhere discover the best of what’s around the world or around the corner. Ninety-seven percent of Americans who use the Internet—pretty much all of us—look online for local products and services. So it should come as no surprise that the impact on businesses of being online is huge. According to a McKinsey study, small businesses that make use of the web are growing twice as fast as those that aren’t on the web. Just as businesses that embrace the web grow faster, communities whose businesses embrace the web grow faster as well.

Given the importance of the web in growing our local businesses and our local economies, we worked with independent research firm IPSOS to analyze the online strength of local businesses in cities and towns across America. Businesses in these communities are embracing the power of the web to find new customers, connect with existing ones and fuel their local economies. Today we’re introducing the eCity Award winners for 2013—the strongest online business communities in each state.
We hope these “digital capitals” are an inspiration to cities and businesses everywhere of what can be accomplished by embracing the web to grow.

Congratulations to the 2013 eCities of America.

America’s businesses are growing. The web is helping.

Michael Edlavitch was a middle school math teacher in Minnesota when he started a website with free math games to engage his students. With free online tools, a passion for math and an initial investment of just $10 to register his domain, www.hoodamath.com was born. Eventually Michael’s website became popular with more than just his students. So Michael gave Google AdSense a try as a way to earn money by placing ads next to his content. As word spread and traffic grew, the revenue generated from his site allowed Michael to devote himself full time to Hooda Math. Today, www.hoodamath.com has more than 350 educational games and has had more than 100 million unique visitors to the site. Beyond building a business for himself, Michael is helping students everywhere learn math while having fun.

Over in New York, Roberto Gil designs and builds children’s furniture—loft beds, bunk beds and entire custom rooms. Casa Kids’ furniture is custom designed for the family to grow along with the child. Roberto works out of his Brooklyn workshop and doesn’t sell to large furniture stores, which means the Casa Kids website is an essential tool for him to connect with potential customers. To grow even further, Roberto began using AdWords in 2010. In the first few months traffic to his site went up 30 percent. Today, two-thirds of his new customers come from Google. Meet Roberto and learn more about how he’s making the web work for Casa Kids:



These are just two examples of how the web is working for American businesses. According to a McKinsey study, small businesses that make use of the web are growing twice as fast as those that aren’t on the web. That’s because the web is where we go for information and inspiration—from math games to practice over the summer to someone to design and build that perfect bunk bed for your kids. Ninety-seven percent of American Internet users look online for local products and services. Whether we’re on our smartphones, tablets or computers, the web helps us find what we’re looking for.

Here at Google, we see firsthand how the web is helping American businesses grow and thrive. Through our search and advertising programs, businesses like Casa Kids find customers, publishers like Hooda Math earn money from their content, and nonprofits solicit donations and volunteers. These tools are how we make money, and they’re how millions of other U.S. businesses do, too.

In 2012, Google's search and advertising tools helped provide $94 billion of economic activity for more than 1.9 million American businesses—advertisers, publishers and nonprofits. This represents a 17 percent increase from 2011. Check out the impact made in each state, along with stories of local businesses using the web to grow.

Whether it’s building skills or building furniture, Google helps to build businesses. We’re thrilled to be part of such a vibrant industry and are committed to continuing to help make the web work for people and businesses everywhere.

Happy Small Business Week.

Our first AdWords customer was a small business selling live mail-order lobsters. It’s been a long time since then, but a majority of our customers are still small businesses, who play a vital role not only for Google, but for the American economy. More than 60 percent of new jobs each year come from small businesses.



This Small Business Week, we want to celebrate you. We’re grateful to you for everything you do for us and our communities. Whether you fix people’s cars, offer music lessons to aspiring musicians, or make the world’s best homemade ice cream—when you do what you love, our lives get better.

As part of the celebration, we’ll be highlighting some amazing small businesses across the country, so keep an eye on the Google+ Your Business page. And in the meantime, check out some of the Google tools that are designed to help you take care of business.

Happy Small Business Week.

Make some New Year’s resolutions for your business

When Melodie Bishop heard about our Get Your Business Online program (an initiative that makes it fast, easy and free for U.S. businesses to get online), she jumped at the opportunity to turn her hobby of creating Chicago-themed gift baskets into a full-time business. Since launching her website, Send Them Chicago, this past summer, Melodie has seen a 70 percent increase in new customers.

Melodie Bishop with one of her gift baskets

As the holidays wrap up and the New Year starts, millions of business owners just like Melodie are thinking about how they can grow in 2013. For many, this means getting found and connecting with customers on the web.

Yet often, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why we’re helping business owners create a list of New Year’s resolutions for 2013.

Let us know what you hope to accomplish in the New Year. Do you want to get your basic business information online? Or do you already have a website and want to reach more customers? Once you select your goals, we’ll create a customized list of resolutions with resources to help you stick to it.

In the U.S., 58 percent of small businesses don’t have a website, but 97 percent of Internet users look online for local products and services. So it’s not surprising that businesses with a web presence are expected to grow 40 percent faster than those without. Creating a list of resolutions for your business may just be one of the easiest things you can do to help your business grow.

We’ll see you on the web.

P.S. If you aren’t a small business owner, it’s not too late to give that business you know the gift of a free website.

Steel + silicon = business success in Detroit

From time to time we invite guests to post about items of interest and are pleased to have Linzie Venegas join us today. Linzie is head of sales and marketing for Ideal Shield, a manufacturing company in Detroit, Mich. that specializes in bumper post sleeves. Based in a city forged in tradition and steel, Ideal Shield has seen great success on the web—a story Linzie tells us in this post. -Ed.

When my great-grandparents moved from Mexico to Detroit in 1917, they were looking for a better life. They had no idea that one day their grandson, my father Frank Venegas, would invent a product and start a business that would help transform their adopted hometown. Thanks to my dad’s hard work and a little help from the web, that’s exactly what Ideal Shield has done.

Ideal Shield specializes in manufacturing bumper post sleeves. You may have seen these around—they’re colorful covers that slide over the steel pipes that keep cars from running into buildings. As a young child, my first job at Ideal was to assemble mailers for potential customers. Our mailers were unique—I would place a pack of jelly beans into each envelope. Talk about a great way to get a high “clickthrough rate!” Today, I head sales and marketing for the company, and we’ve taken our family business online with phenomenal results.

Ideal Shield’s father-daughter team Frank and Linzie Venegas in the factory surrounded by bumper post sleeves and guard rails.

We began using Google AdWords in 2004 to help potential customers find our product because many people didn’t know what it was. We were drawn to AdWords because everyone could see our ads—but we only had to pay for the customers who clicked through to our website. We also found that the leads were very qualified and had a higher close rate than leads from other sources. So far this year, for every $1 we've spent on AdWords we’ve gotten back $22. We’ve been able to have great success—without jelly beans!—using Google AdWords.

The energy we’ve put into our online presence has produced tremendous growth for our business; we’ve been able to grow our workforce by 20 percent. We’ve also focused on building our local community of Southwest Detroit. Each year we hire many interns from the local high school, Detroit Cristo Rey, and teach them skills that will last a lifetime. We’ve outfitted the junior and senior classes at Detroit Cristo Rey with Chromebooks so that they’ll have access to the power of the web anywhere, and many teachers there use the free Google Apps for Education suite with their students. This year, we were proud to hear that Detroit Cristo Rey achieved a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate. We also work with the Michigan Minority Business Development Council to teach other small businesses in the community the importance of an online strategy and how the web can help small businesses thrive.

My dad started Ideal with himself, my mother and a couple of laborers; today this family business has more than 35 employees and annual sales of $14 million. With help from the web, his hard work, determination and “out of the box” thinking have made Ideal a symbol of strength and renewal in Southwest Detroit. My father has always told me that if you take care of the community, the community will take care of you. Detroit is our community—it’s our heart, it’s our home. We’ve been surprised and delighted at how much the web has contributed to Ideal Shield, and we’re happy to share that success with Detroit. We can’t wait to do more!



The web is working for American businesses

The web is where we go to find things—that somewhere special to eat tonight, the directions to guide us there and suggestions for that one-of-a-kind present for the birthday girl. Ninety-seven percent of Americans who use the Internet are looking online for local goods and services using their computers and mobile devices.

The growth of our Internet use has naturally helped the ecommerce industry to expand rapidly over the past decade. But the web is also positively impacting brick-and-mortar businesses. According to Boston Consulting Group, American consumers who researched products online last year spent almost $2,000 actually purchasing those products offline. That’s almost $500 billion that went directly to main street retail. All in all, it’s clear that the economic impact of the web is huge; the Internet is where business is done and jobs are created.

We’re proud to be part of such a dynamic industry, and we’re committed to helping make the web work for American businesses. Through our search and advertising programs, businesses find customers, publishers earn money from their content and nonprofits solicit donations and volunteers. These tools are how Google makes money, and they’re how millions of other businesses do, too.

In fact, in 2011, Google’s search and advertising tools helped provide $80 billion of economic activity for 1.8 million advertisers, website publishers and nonprofits across the U.S. You can see the state-by-state breakdown on our economic impact website.

Take one example: King Arthur Flour, a great New England baking company. King Arthur has been a well-known local company since George Washington was President, but has recently used the web to grow into an internationally-renowned baking business. Similarly, Nebraska’s 80 year-old Oriental Trading Company shifted some of its catalog-based marketing to the web, and now sells 80 percent of their toys and novelties online. Or consider New Jersey’s Bornstein Sons home maintenance and repair contracting business, which was founded 70 years ago and recently began to advertise online. They now get one in four of their new customers from the web.

These are just a few examples out of the hundreds of thousands of businesses who are growing and hiring thanks to the web. And Google is committed to getting even more businesses online. Over the past year, we’ve been traveling the country with our Get Your Business Online program, encouraging businesses throughout the U.S. to create free websites and reach more customers. So far, we’ve worked with thousands of businesses to launch their new websites.

It’s a fact that the Internet is creating jobs and helping the American economy grow. And we’re proud to be a part of that process.

YouTube Marketing Ambassadors play big at Google

From time to time, we post about how entrepreneurs have used Google tools to build successful businesses—both on and offline. Today, we’re recognizing a group of businesses that have used a particular online platform—YouTube—to grow their customer base. - Ed.

You’d be hard pressed to run into someone who hasn’t heard of a musician or two that have gotten their big break on YouTube (Justin Bieber ring a bell?). But success on YouTube isn’t limited to aspiring celebrities: we’ve also seen a growing number of businesses that have either gotten their start on YouTube or grown an existing business with video.

To recognize these businesses and their work in fostering a culture of entrepreneurship on YouTube, we’re introducing our first ever YouTube Marketing Ambassadors—a group of outstanding organizations that have used YouTube to drive sales and grow operations. We’ve invited nine businesses from across the country to participate in this program, and last week our YouTube Ambassadors joined us at our headquarters for a two-day summit to meet with executives and learn more about online tools for businesses.

Hanging out with our Ambassadors at the YouTube headquarters. Check out more photos on Google+. Photo credit: Bryan Davis.

Our Ambassadors span a variety of industries, from knitting to motorcycle gear to musical education. Each has a unique customer base and distinct business objectives, and yet, video has helped each and every one of them achieve their goals:

Find new customers from around the corner and across the world
  • BerkleeMusic.com (Boston, Mass.) - Berkleemusic.com is the award-winning online extension school of Boston's Berklee College of Music. To encourage enrollment for online courses, this renowned school posts video music lessons and in-depth clinics with professors to give prospective students a true-to-life preview of online study with Berkleemusic.com. Bringing access to Berklee’s acclaimed curriculum to students around the world, Berkleemusic.com has taught over 30,000 students from 135 countries since 2002.
  • Undercover Tourist (Daytona Beach, Fla.) - If you’ve ever planned a theme park vacation and wanted more than what’s offered in travel guides, you’re not alone. This travel business uses first-person videos to show the rides, shows and experiences offered at their partner destinations in Florida to potential customers around the world. The destinations now attract approximately 14% of their customers from the U.K., Australia, and Germany.
  • VeryPink.com (Austin, Tex.) - Owner Staci Perry discovered a global classroom on YouTube, and now she offers knitting instruction classes and patterns online as a full-time business. Thanks to Google Translate and closed captioning on her videos, she has students in Greece, Turkey, Thailand, Italy, India and Syria—just to name a few.
Spark a conversation
  • ModCloth (San Francisco, Calif.) - ModCloth, an online retailer selling vintage-inspired clothing, engages fans with how-to tutorials, behind the scenes tours and DIY videos (ever try your hand at DIY studded socks?). Their video contests have earned them nearly a million video views from happy ModCloth brand evangelists.
  • Richard Petty Driving Experience (Concord, N.C.) - To show that there’s nothing quite like being behind the wheel of a NASCAR race car, the Richard Petty Driving Experience team records celebrity customers’ reactions after their final lap around the racetrack and uses the videos as compelling testimonials.
  • Rokenbok (Solano Beach, Calif.) - This toy company transformed itself into an e-commerce powerhouse, gaining 50% of all customers from their YouTube videos. They also encourage fans to upload their own videos, which they regularly feature on their YouTube channel.
Launch a new product
  • BBQ Guys (Baton Rouge, La.) - To showcase their collection of high-end BBQ grills, the BBQ Guys film video reviews of new products so customers can get a personal walk-through of all the features and how they perform in action.
  • RevZilla (Philadelphia, Pa.) - RevZilla co-founder Anthony Bucci deconstructs highly technical motorcycle gear through simple video reviews, giving tips on sizing and features. They’ve filmed more than 1,400 videos to help motorcyclists shop with confidence.
  • Zagg (Salt Lake City, Utah) - ZAGG drives traffic to their website with engaging scratch test TrueView video ads showcasing their clear protective shield for electronics. Their iPhone 4 Scratch Test alone has more than two million views.
We’ve awarded these Ambassadors with a badge for their YouTube channel and retail storefront, and will feature them on the YouTube homepage. To pay it forward, each Ambassador will mentor a nonprofit organization of their choice on how to get started with a video presence on YouTube. They’ll also host Google+ Hangouts throughout the year to share their strategies. To find out when the Ambassadors will be hosting a Hangout, stay tuned to our YouTube for marketers Google+ page.


Meet one of our Ambassadors, Rokenbok toy company

To learn more about how to bring your business to life with YouTube, visit the Get Started page, or if you already have a video and want to learn how to promote it, read about the new AdWords for video on the YouTube blog.

Saluting Europe’s eTowns

It’s often assumed that big cities benefit the most from the Internet, but we believe the net offers giant opportunities to everyone from urbanites to small town residents, farmers and nature lovers in the far-flung countryside. We recently tested this thesis in our first-ever European Google eTown awards, which recognize those areas that had most embraced the web’s potential over the last year.

The results were fascinating—and surprising. Smaller, quirky and plucky towns came out ahead. Scunthorpe, a steel town in the north of England, topped the U.K.’s list. Caen, a town in rural Normandy not far from the D-Day beaches and famed as the home of camembert cheese, came first in France. Salerno, nestled between the Amalfi and the Cilento Coast led the way in Italy and Elbląg, a remote northern town located in the region of 1,000 lakes won in Poland. In all four participating countries, eTown lists included towns of all sizes.

How did we determine our eTown awards? We broke down the U.K., France, Italy and Poland into all of their thousands of towns and then ranked local areas according to the growth in small businesses using AdWords over the last year. The top towns in each country won Google eTown awards.



The results back up recent research identifying the Internet as a main force driving growth throughout Europe. For example, a recent McKinsey report Internet Matters states that 2.6 Internet jobs are created globally for every job destroyed. Separately, the Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2015 the web will account for 7.3 percent of Denmark’s GDP, 10 percent of the U.K.’s GDP and 5.5 percent of France’s GDP. The net drives growth of both big and small businesses—indeed another BCG report called “Turning Local” (PDF) makes clear that small businesses with a website grow faster than businesses without a web presence.

We’ve seen this ourselves, in the businesses of all shapes and sizes that we encountered as part of our eTown awards. An entrepreneur in Hartlepool in the U.K. sells golf balls online. A Polish programmer runs a data recovery business from Piaseczno. An plumber directs a heating systems company from Vicenza, Italy and a French retailer has reached new scooter customers online in Reims. Online advertising has helped them grow and reach more customers than ever before. When it comes to the Internet, our eTown awards show that anybody, almost anywhere, can boost a business by going online.

The Orabrush story: How a Utah man used YouTube to build a multi-million dollar business

From time to time, we post about how entrepreneurs have used Google tools to build successful businesses—both on and offline. In this post, you’ll read the story of how a Utah entrepreneur used YouTube to build a market for his tongue cleaner product, the Orabrush. Starting this month, CVS/pharmacy will begin carrying the product in stores across the United States. - Ed.

When Dr. Bob Wagstaff invented the Orabrush tongue cleaner, he tried all the traditional business strategies to sell his product. He invested $40,000 into a TV infomercial, approached retail shops to carry the Orabrush in stores and offered to sell his patent to other oral hygiene companies. None of it worked. The infomercial yielded only 100 orders, and people walked past the product in stores without a second glance.

As a final attempt to get his business off the ground, Dr. Wagstaff took the advice of Jeffrey Harmon, a local college student, and started marketing the tongue cleaners on YouTube. With a $500 budget, they produced and posted their first video introducing the Orabrush and offering the product for purchase online.



The quirky, commercial-style video explained that 90 percent of bad breath comes from bacteria on the tongue—hence the solution, the Orabrush tongue cleaner. Shot in a makeshift studio in the neighborhood pool hall (listen closely and you can hear the balls cracking in the background), the video went viral, rocketing to 16 million views.

Building a brand on YouTube
After the explosive reaction to their first video, Harmon took on the role as Chief Marketing Officer and began creating regular webisodes, introducing new characters like Morgan, the dirty tongue. Harmon then used YouTube video ads to reach more people and grow their fan base. The “Cure Bad Breath” videos built a loyal following, and their YouTube channel grew to nearly 40 million views.

After two years, Orabrush had sold more than a million tongue cleaners to people in 40+ countries. The Orabrush brand became so popular that local pharmacy store managers began contacting Orabrush directly, citing requests from customers who had heard about the brand online. This fall, Walmart began carrying the Orabrush tongue cleaners in its 3,500+ stores across the United States. And this week, CVS/pharmacy has added the Orabrush tongue cleaner to more than 7,000 stores across the country. That’s a lot of tongue cleaners!


These days Orabrush is taking a new approach to drive even more sales in stores. One of the first businesses to use YouTube TrueView video ads, Orabrush has created tailored endings to their videos that direct the viewer to the closest CVS/pharmacy carrying the Orabrush.

Elbow grease and a clever mascot
While Orabrush may have taken an unorthodox approach, their success came from old-fashioned elbow grease, perseverance and a bit of ingenuity.

“YouTube has helped normal people like Dr. Bob and a couple of college kids to take an idea, put it in front of people and get an honest response,” Harmon, now chief marketing officer at Orabrush, told us. “We can now play on the same terms as huge companies—and be successful.”

Hear more about Orabrush’s journey to success in this video: