Kirsten Womack and Donna M. Baxter run "2 Tech Divas," (www.myspace.com/2techdivas) a Web-based consulting business specializing in helping small and women-owned businesses harness the power of the Internet. Womack, 44, of Turtle Creek, runs a virtual-assistant business called Im-mack-ulate Impressions. Baxter, 39, of Bloomfield, is CEO and Webmistress of thesoulpitt.com and has a book coming out: Dr. King Would Have Had a Dream and a Blog: 27 Reasons Why Blacks Should Get Online or Get Left Behind.
What kinds of services does 2 Tech Divas Offer? How did you get started?
Donna M. Baxter: The whole goal of 2 Tech Divas is to empower businesses, especially small and women-owned. We successfully market ourselves online with social-networking sites, our blogs, contacts, their contacts. ... We also do training and coaching. We take people through a mock exercise: On Monday, I have to do two social-networking "reps"; on Thursday, I have to do one hour of blogging. It's a digital coach for your business.
We met at a networking event. We had our own clients and we were doing our own things -- we just clicked. We're not your typical nerds; I used to rap! On March 22, we're doing a laptop workshop. You bring your laptop to the meeting and we train you. The first one is on blogging. We give them questions and by the time they leave, they have a blog.
Why do all business owners need the Internet?
Kirsten Womack: It's an opportunity to cross boundaries where you wouldn't before. Walking down the street, someone from China isn't going to buy your product. Online, the cash register is ringing in your sleep. It's your own business, it starts as a hobby and you can develop it into a full business. If a business doesn't even have a Web site, it makes you leery. It's like having a telephone -- you have to have these things. You can do so much. I did my whole wedding online: my dress, my cake, my shoes. I made my hair appointment online -- why do I have to call you? Just send me an e-mail!
DMB: Blogging, reaching out -- it's not just saying, "We're this, buy this!" When we're out somewhere, I don't know who you know, but on MySpace, I can see who you know. Having a social network will help you show up on a search engine. MySpace and other social-networking sites are very Google-friendly. The more you change your page, the more links you have to your site: That helps you turn up on a search engine.
What are some fears and misconceptions that people still have of the Internet?
KW: The physical computer itself, people are afraid they're going to break it -- that's universal, young, old. I still use a paper planner, a Franklin Covey calendar. I still keep that because you never know. If the computer goes down ...
DMB: My parents still don't get on the computer. My dad's scared! I used to think MySpace was for teen-agers and people trying to promote music. I would hate going on to The Soul Pitt MySpace -- who are all these people? You can go on YouTube and learn how to do anything; there are trainings. I've found how to do more software. I learned how to play craps real quick before I went to Vegas.
What can't you live without?
KW: PayPal. It's my income.
DMB: I would die without PayPal! I couldn't live without content-management software. It's how I edit sites real quick without ftp-ing it. That's a real nerd answer! Oh, and a thumb drive.
Why do you promote online businesses as a good fit for women and minorities?
KW: We are a refreshing welcome to many women online. They are happy we're here so they don't have to go to the nerdy guy in his mom's basement, the people that explain the technology using technical terms.
DMB: More African Americans are getting online. I watched it explode in the last few years. There is a digital divide, but it's closing. Get the Internet for your kids. I speak about our ancestors: If they had the technology we have, I could imagine Harriet Tubman using MapQuest.