Although e-mail has not yet surpassed telephones (or voice mail) as the most common means of communication, and the idea that Web sites will replace standard advertising still seems incredibly far-fetched, there's no question that times have changed. In today's wired world, if your business cards lack an e-mail or Web site address, your credentials may come into question--much like the situation 10 or so years ago if your office lacked a fax machine.
All this technology may seem a bit daunting, but it's been a major blessing for small entrepreneurial companies that have used today's fast-paced communication tools to their benefit. That includes everything from selling products via the Internet, creating a new business based on Web distribution, or simply communicating with associates more affordably via e-mail.
And there are more ways of utilizing the Internet to your company's bottom-line benefit. For example, there's the growing trend of using the Internet for long-distance telephone calls--we're talking actual voice calls. It makes sense: Paying only the one low price of an Internet connection (currently about $20 per month) minimizes your long-distance telephone costs.
Another new use of the Net that increases productivity is the creation of "buddy lists." These programs let you chat online in real time, a boon to individuals who work remotely and need to be in constant touch with partners, customers and vendors.