For small businesses, technology doesn't always trump tradition - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

For small businesses, technology doesn't always trump tradition

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Business is all about technology, and, for the most part, always has been. But even though mobile offices, telecommuting and Web-based functions dominate today's business atmosphere, some of the traditional aspects of business shouldn't be forgotten.

For those who own and operate their own small businesses, the pressure to innovate is always there - and for good reason. It's important to always have an eye on the future, but you might just find that the best way to get there is through a combination of novelty and older institutions.

Consider these time-honored business ideas that you'll still need to take your business into the future.

* Checks. It might seem like we now live in a plastic world, so to speak, with countless consumers and businesses relying on cards for payments. However, checks are still a necessity. As long as you need to deal with people (not financial entities) and payments, you'll want to keep checks around. Not only do they enable you to make payments in situations where you can't swipe a card, they can act as a payment tracking system. The important thing to remember is to have an account separate from your personal finances - order business checks to go along with and it'll be easier to keep your finances separated.

* Stationery. From business cards to letterhead, to present a unified and professional appearance for your business, these seemingly "little" things go a long way. It's easy and inexpensive to order custom options that feature your logo. You can't always rely on people reading or keeping your email signature to find out how to access your website or contact you by phone - contacting them with traditional paper stationery is a great way to reinforce that information.

* Personal communication. Word of mouth is still invaluable, and likely always will be, so be sure to make it a priority for your business. Of course, it's important for you to spread the word yourself, through networking events and simply talking up your business when opportunities arise, but what might be even more important is what other people say about you. Give your customers a personalized experience whenever you can - get out from behind the computer and let them know they're important to you. If you make them feel special, they'll share the experience.

* Marketing. You simply can't exist without a Web presence these days, but to really drive success, you can't focus solely on the Internet for your marketing efforts. Plan a strategic approach that combines both new and traditional media and you'll be covering all your bases. Consider advertising in local or national publications, depending on the size of your business, and remember that items like flyers advertising sales and specials can be an effective tool for bringing in customers. Back it up with a website which customers can go to for more information, and you've got a formula for marketing success.

The entrepreneurial spirit shared by small business owners will always drive them to look for the next great solution. But as you seek out what will help your business grow, don't discount the things that have helped businesses find success in the past.