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Google Launches Online Coupons for Small Businesses

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Google Unveils Coupons

A new Google program enables small businesses to offer coupons online within the popular Google Maps feature.

Up until now, when a consumer used Google Maps to look up a type of business in a particular geographic location, Yellow Page-like listings for businesses in the area appeared next to the map. The new program now allows those businesses also to announce discounts or special deals in coupons next to their listings. Consumers can then print out the coupons and bring them into brick-and-mortar stores for redemption.

Google does not currently charge for local business listings or coupons. Businesses can enter their listing and coupon information by logging in at the Local Business Center at Google Maps.

Unlike Google's search advertising platform, AdWords, the coupon program does not require a business to have a Web site to participate. An estimated 50% of small businesses do not have sites, according to Google.

Like coupons that come in the mail or in a newspaper, Google's virtual coupons enable businesses to target consumers with interest in their local geographic area. However, Web coupons will likely have a much larger reach than their paper counterparts. Google Maps attracted 23.7 million visitors in July.

Bank of America Launches Express Credit

Small businesses can access an unsecured line of credit up to $100,000 with Business Credit Express, a new product from Bank of America.

Bank of America offers a streamlined application process for qualified small-business owners who need credit to deal with emergencies, fund payroll, refinance debt, or purchase inventory. For credit lines below $50,000, businesses do not have to provide financial records. Additionally, there is no minimum time-in-business requirement or upfront fee. The $100 annual fee is waived for the first year.

For some small businesses, Business Credit Express, can provide an attractive alternative to a small business loan. The credit line can also be used as overdraft protection for a Bank of America checking account.

Computer Inspections -- for Free

Your business' outdated computer might not need to be replaced, after all. GoldenRAM, an Irvine, Calif.-based firm, has launched a new product called Upgrade Detect, which seeks to offer an alternative to buying new computers every few years. The free software, available at GoldenRAM's website, performs a detailed inspection of a computer system and suggests hardware upgrades -- including exact part numbers -- that will improve the machine's performance.

By directing a computer owner to parts that are compatible, Upgrade Detect takes some of the confusion out of a computer or peripheral upgrade. After Upgrade Detect performs its analysis, users can purchase the suggested parts online through GoldenRAM, which can also provide a certified technician to perform the upgrade onsite.




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