Ask anyone starting up a business and they'll tell you about their miles-long todo list. Does it make sense, then, to add blogging to an already overcrowded list of responsibilities? When it comes to building a blog for your new company, then the answer is unequivocally yes.

Blogging is a crucial element of a startup's marketing plan, and serves several important purposes. First, it provides a way for businesses to communicate closely with customers by keeping them informed about your company's day-to-day activities. Readers can comment, share their thoughts and ask questions, and you can respond quickly. Blogs are a great way to keep the lines of communication open with customers and make them feel valued.

A company blog is a great way to make announcements, and share specials or sales. Since readers make the choice to visit your site, your marketing message won't get caught in spam filters or discarded in an unread email. A blog also makes a great research tool for customers, since they can read past entries and learn more about your business.

Smart entrepreneurs also use a company blog to position themselves as an industry expert. If you're a vendor specializing in financial software for small businesses, your blog can become a go-to resource for news and analysis about financial issues that concern that segment of the marketplace.

Starting a blog is a very simple process, and cost little to nothing to set up. There are plenty of free hosted blogging platforms available, like and TypePad, or you can host your own with free software downloaded from one of several Web sites, including or Moveable Type.

There are three very important things to remember when starting a blog. First, make sure the URL reflects your company, not the blogging platform you've chosen. For instance, is a better choice than Next, make sure you always have fresh content for your visitors read. Daily posting is ideal, but three or four times a week is the bare minimum. It's easy to get busy and overlook your blog in the rush to meet a deadline or make a sale, so be sure to write a few general posts in advance -- a brief history of your business, or how you named the company, for example -- to post on your blog when you're pressed for time.

Last, but no less important, always be sure to respond to comments readers leave on your blog, even the negative ones. It lets readers know you're listening and approachable. Be sure to tweak your blog settings to alert you via email when you have new comments so you don't miss any.

Maintaining a company blog might seem unimportant in light of all the mission-critical tasks you have to manage, but it's really not. Once you get it set up and running, the hardest part will simply be carving out time to write the content, something that will get easier the more you do it.

Flickr image courtesy of r3v || cls.