May 25, 2004, 12:00 AM

Small businesses doubled web presence in two years, survey finds

70% of small businesses have or will have a web site by year’s end, up from 35% in 2002, according to a Yahoo Small Business survey. 30% believe increasing online advertising efforts is key to future growth.

The number of small businesses integrating the Internet into their operations has doubled in less than two years, according to findings of the Yahoo Small Business survey just released. 70% of small businesses – defined as 500 employees or fewer – have or will have an online presence by the end of 2004. By contrast, only 35% of small businesses had developed their own web site in October 2002.

The survey found that 35% of small business owners believe having a web site is key to expanding their business. 30% believe having dedicated business e-mail was important to growth, the same percentage that said increasing their online advertising effort was important. Only 19% said hiring addition employees was key to future growth.

“Clearly, small businesses realize the importance of establishing an online presence and leveraging the Internet as a way to reach new customers," says Rich Riley, vice president and general manager of Yahoo Small Business.

While the majority of the 1,020 small business operators responding said they expect their sales to increase, more online businesses expect to experience growth than those businesses not currently online. About two-thirds of small business owners responding predicted their annual revenues would rise this year. Of that number, 75% currently have a web site.

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