Small business internet marketing is tricky. The budget constraints on a small business are immense. I know. I've started several businesses new and understand the boot strap process. Yes, to compete today you need to have a strong presence on the Internet. There is simply no way around that. So how do you get started?
First, recognize that the big guys are spending great deals of money on their leading terms. We often call those "head terms" here at HubShout as we consult with our clients on SEO. If you see a head term like "Home mortgage" with millions of results in the Google index, you should probably realize that as a small business you will have hard time competing on that term.
But on the flip side, we have some really awesome small business Internet marketing campaigns where a small site has out-ranked a big player. How do they do this? Well, as pointed out above it is simply less and less common due to the amounts of money being spent. That being said, there are some Internet marketing firms out there that focus on small businesses and have some simply wonderful techniques to help get niche sites ranked. By niche, I don't mean affiliate marketing throw-aways. I mean real businesses.
The really smart business owners have engages small business Internet marketing firms specifically to help them rank against the big boys. This is often a stretch for the small budget, but if you aspire to grow online sales, you will have to make the investment.