Oscar Moreno, co-founder and chief technology officer with Starfish Global LLC

Ask Oscar Moreno what it takes for a small business owner to succeed, and he’ll tell you, “It’s all about the hustle.” And the hustle is all about making sure people know your business exists.

So you create a website and join one or more social media groups with the goal of establishing a virtual presence. But how do you know if your efforts are effective and what you can do if they are not?

Moreno, co-founder and chief technology officer with Starfish Global LLC, will answer these questions in an upcoming webinar, “Tips for Measuring Online Success,” offered by the Small Business Development Center on Monday, August 27, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in English and 7 to 8 p.m. in Spanish. Register at sbdc.tcnj.edu/events/. Cost: $10. For questions, call 609-771-2947 or email lilian@sbdcnj.com.

It’s important, says Moreno, to understand how people discover you online and what keywords and phrases they use when looking for your products or services. A good tool for this is Google Analytics. Most people have heard of this tool, but all too often they don’t know how to use it. With some instruction, you can learn to use Google Analytics or other tools to increase your visitor traffic and sales, or you can pay someone to do it. The important thing is that you use the tools, Moreno says. If you don’t measure your efforts, you can’t improve them.

Moreno gives an example of how the right use of keywords can help people find your website and your products. Let’s say someone is looking for red shoes to wear to a wedding. If you’re in the business of selling shoes, it’s not enough to use “shoes” or your company name as keywords. Chances are, the potential customer will not be searching on company names or just “shoes,” but more specifically, a phrase like “red shoes for a wedding.” Your website is more likely to be found if you’ve used a similar phrase. Moreno can help you tailor and customize your keywords to attract customers who are looking for your products.

Business owners tend to focus on the quality of their services or products as well as efficiency of operations. After all, Moreno says, that’s how they make their money, and their priority is “running the store.” But often they don’t appreciate the value of having a strong online presence.

Moreno wants business owners to be aware of the free tools that can strengthen their presence and to commit to using them. “It’s about execution,” he says, emphasizing that if you don’t apply what you have learned, the knowledge won’t do you any good. “If you don’t have a good website or a virtual presence, you simply don’t exist,” he says.

Moreno co-founded Starfish Global with Reina Valenzuela, who launched the New Jersey-based company in 2009. The business provides technology and management services that help organizations improve performance and growth. In addition to her role as CEO of the company and her work with SBDC, Valenzuela is a mentor at SCORE.

In 2012 Starfish Global’s founders became consultants for SBDC in New Jersey as bilingual (Spanish & English) business and technology advisors at the College of New Jersey, Rutgers University, and William Paterson University. In 2016, Starfish Global expanded its services to Guatemala to serve the needs of businesses in Latin America.

The company partners with several technology partners including Hootsuite for managing social media; Constant Contact for email marketing; Google for email, collaboration, searchability, and more; and LivePlan for funding and financing; and others.

Prior to joining the company, Moreno worked in Washington D.C. as a consultant on programming and systems integration for several organizations, including the National Institutes for Health and the Department of Defense.

He came to the U.S. from Guatemala after an earthquake had hit the country. His parents operated a farm and sold their products at the marketplace. They emphasized education as a necessity for surviving and thriving in life. Moreno said his mother and father would get up at 3 a.m. to have their goods at the market when it opened. From observing his parents, he and his siblings absorbed their work ethic and learned what it took to make it in business.

Moreno, who studied information technology management at George Washington University and earned his master’s degree in computer science at California State University, says all his siblings have degrees and all are entrepreneurs. “Small business owners are the backbone of the country,” he says.

Moreno says his commitment to technology and online marketing is based on first-hand experience. When he was working in D.C. he was so busy providing results to his clients that he neglected to promote his company and follow a strong marketing plan. He lost out on business opportunities but learned from the experience. When talking to students and clients today, he likes to share a quote from Starfish Global’s website: “The dream is free. The hustle comes at a price.”

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