Cool Blue is part of a project that’s helping lots of small businesses take a larger share of the online market.

We’re working on Get Your Head Into Digital – an initiative for DigitalCity and Tees Valley Business Compass, which aims to engage more than 200 companies in a series of free workshops to help them become “digitally enabled”.

What’s that, you ask?

In simple terms it’s about businesses using the internet to reach more customers and increase turnover. The free workshops are helping businessmen and women from across the Tees Valley learn how to get online, sell online, make social media work for them, do their banking online and even get to grips with cloud computing.

Lots of business owners may believe they don’t need to be online, or they may think they’re already ‘online’ because they have a website, but what researchers have found is that on many occasions a company’s website hasn’t been updated in months, sometimes years.

It’s often out-of-date, doesn’t really promote the business, has no direct links to email addresses or phone numbers, and isn’t mobile-responsive – meaning it’s hard to read on a mobile phone or tablet.

Basically, it’s a waste of time – about as much use as posting a card in a newsagent’s window on the other side of the world.

With more and more of us using our smart phones to browse the web and contact companies at the touch of a button it’s absolutely vital that businesses learn how to use the web effectively.

Just this week we overheard one workshop delegate say: “If you’re not on Google you don’t exist.”

And that’s true for almost every company out there, from vehicle repair shops to double glazing manufacturers.

For those who didn’t know, those companies who regularly refresh their website with new relevant content are far more likely to be found with a Google search than those who don’t.

And if you don’t show up on Google, who’s going to know you exist?