Posts Tagged ‘business’

Key Learnings from my Four Favourite Business Books

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One of the main problems with reading a constant stream of business books is that each comes multitude of different ideas and strategies.

Obviously, it is impossible to take every idea and implement them into your business – no small business owner has the time or capacity to do so.

Instead, I have experimented with various strategies over time to see what will work for me (and what doesn’t). Through this experimentation, I’ve found that each of my favourite books has a key learning that I use in my everyday business life. In this blog, I’ll share those learnings with you…

Books to Read

“The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy

The main premise of Hardy’s book is common sense when you stop and think about it. Each day, we constantly make small, inconspicuous decisions that shape the outcomes that we achieve in our lives. By making incremental changes to these decisions, we can achieve any goal that we set for ourselves – in health, family or business.

For example, if we consciously plan to add one extra social media marketing post into our daily business routine, we will reap the benefits down the track as our online footprint will be much larger than it is today – all because of the compounding effect of that small change we made.

“18 Minutes” by Peter Bregman

The key take-away point that I found in “18 Minutes” is to devote a small amount of time each day ensuring that the focus of your daily tasks is aligned with your overall objectives.

The “18 minutes” is used when you devote:

  • Five minutes at the start of business to clarify that all planned work is aligned with your overall objectives.
  • One minute at the start of each business hour double-checking that focus is adhered to.
  • Five minutes at the close of business determining the following day’s outline and plan.

“The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber

Gerber, through an engaging narrative style, encourages his readers to establish their businesses in a franchise-style – just like McDonalds – regardless of their size or employee numbers. He believes that through the creation and use of Operations Manuals, a business can provide quality and consistent service at all times, regardless of the employee delivering that service.

One thing that makes this book stand out to me is the multitude of real-life examples that Gerber uses throughout to illustrate his ideas and teachings. The book is very easy to read (almost in one sitting) and it makes you want to “spring into action” after you close the final page.

“Getting Things Done” by David Allen

Known as GTD, the process outlined in this book is almost gospel to some people. Once implemented, GTD helps shape the way you organise and complete tasks, anywhere in your life. It is so popular in fact that several software apps have been specifically designed to cater for devotees of the GTD method.

However, the GTD process wasn’t the main take-away for me. I was engaged by the phrase – “Your mind is for having ideas – not storing them”. Every day, so many things pass through our brains, it is impossible to mentally store each one away for further contemplation or action later. Rather than lose any ideas, I now keep a constant supply of Post-It notes close by and record anything and everything. The notes are then stuck to my computer screen for later processing.

In conclusion, please remember that these books have far more to offer than just the learnings that I have outlined above and I heartily encourage all small business owners to read each book. Take notes as you do – on post-it notes of course.

If you do come away with something totally different from one of the above books, let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this Blog…

Why you should ALWAYS use a professional email address!

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Professional ImageSmall business owners are often hesitant to change their existing email addresses when they create their first business website.

The owners argue that the Gmail or Hotmail address that they have been using for the past ten years “still works” and that there is no need to change over.

What these business owners are failing to realise is that the benefits of a professional email address far outweigh any drawbacks they may have and the changeover doesn’t have to be a nightmare either.

Benefit #1 – A PROFESSIONAL email address conveys a PROFESSIONAL image

The generic email addresses from webmail services like Gmail and Hotmail can give a small business the appearance of being a fly-by-night operation and not very serious about how they operate. It can also convey that a business is new, small, or even part time!

A generic email address also doesn’t encourage trust in the brand of your business.

Some prospective clients will simply refuse to share information through to a Gmail or Hotmail account. They want to know that your business is legit and serious enough to engage with.

A professional email address will give you the right branded image to do this.

Benefit #2 – Your own email address makes you easy to REMEMBER.

With so many businesses staking out their claims online, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Think of the number of email addresses that you have in your own professional directories – Can you remember any of the generic ones?

For example – it is much easier to remember bob@cassowarycoastdining.com.au* than bob332521@gmail.com

Let people get in touch easily by being memorable with your own branded business email address.

Benefit #3 – Give your small business a BIGGER image

Having your own professional email address system lets you convey a corporate image regardless of the size of your business.

By setting up multiple email addresses for the various sections of your business, prospective customers will perceive that you are a much larger business than you are and to some of them, bigger IS better.

For example, Cassowary Coast Dining* could use email addresses such as accounts@cassowarycoastdining.com.au, support@cassowarycoastdining.com.au, bookings@cassowarycoastdining.com.au, etc.

Small Business looking BIG

Benefit #4 – You can promote your Brand – EVERY time you send an email

By using a professional email address, you get to promote your OWN business every time you send out an email, not Google’s or Microsoft’s. Even if the recipient has never heard of your business before, your email address is an instant way of bringing it to their attention.


For those still hesitant to make the change, the move from generic email to branded email doesn’t have to be an immediate one (nor do we recommend it).

Make the change with these four easy steps:

1. Be sure to make all your customers aware of the new email (a MailChimp Newsletter would be a great way to do this).
2. Continue to monitor incoming emails via the generic platforms of Gmail or Hotmail.
3. All new outgoing emails should be sent via the new email address.
4. Once the incoming emails to the generic addresses have slowed or stopped completely, close those accounts so that they can no longer be used by anyone.

If you are interested in setting up professional email addresses for your business, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design and we’ll work with you throughout the changeover process (and beyond).

* Cassowary Coast Dining is not a real business. Those email addresses are purely for demonstrative purposes.

5 Key Points you NEED to effectively brief your Web Designer

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main-imageBuilding a website for your small business should not be a spur of the moment decision.

And yet, as a website developer, I often meet new clients who have decided to build a website for their business but they haven’t yet considered how that site is going to improve their business.

Some still view a website as an online business card and, as I’ve covered in my blog posts before, a website can be so much more if it is planned and implemented correctly. The key to this effectiveness is carefully-considered planning – at every stage along the line.

Before picking up the phone or emailing a web designer for the first time, there are a few key questions that need your attention to ensure that the website development stages are quick and the final website is more effective when it is launched.

 

#1 What is the Key Objective of the Website?

Very simply, in as fewer words as possible (one sentence if possible), write down a measurable objective for your business website. This single sentence will guide everything else that happens along the way to development your site. The measurement is usually written as a percentage.

i.e. Increase the Monthly Sales of XYZ company by 20%

 

 5 Key Points you NEED to effectively brief your Web Designer#2 Who is the target audience?

With point #1 clearly in mind, now look at what kind of site visitor is going to make that measurable objective possible.

Who will be looking for your products/services? Where are they? How old are they? What gender?

Be as specific as you can – this information will help your designer plan and style your site.

i.e. 18 to 60-year-old men interested in recreational fishing around the North QLD area.

 

#3 What kind of content will your audience be seeking at your site?

After identifying the audience that you want to attract to your site, grab a pencil and paper to map out the type of content that these potential customers will respond do. Will they want to read text blogs like this or would they respond better to video or imagery? Maybe a mixture would work best?

What kinds of information / products / services will they be seeking from you and, most importantly, what information do you want them to have about you and your business?

i.e. Information about the latest estuarine fishing equipment, videos on how it is used, fact sheets on where the fishing are biting….

 

fish

#4 What are your competitors doing online?

Get this information in conjunction with point #1 – Get online and see what your competitors are doing with their websites. Google all relevant information regarding your target audience. Your top competitors will generally be at the head of the list – What kinds of content are they using? What appeals to you on their sites? What doesn’t?

Although your web developer should do this research as well, it will be highly beneficial to you as your website takes shape and you know what you are aiming for.

 

#5 What timeframe do you have to complete the site?

Armed with the knowledge that designers work better when given a timeframe (I know I do), when you want to launch your site to the world? Keep in mind, you must be able to “hold up” your end of the bargain and ensure that you can provide the content that the site requires for launch. Even the most experienced developer will baulk at a proposed launch date if they don’t have the content for the site.

 

Conclusion

By having the above planning completed/documented before contacting a designer, you will also be able to brief them clearly and then ascertain whether they can do the job at hand.

Don’t leave your small business’ website goals up to the designer. Remember that no-one knows your business better than you.

Have you got all the above planning done and are ready to go ahead and contact a designer?
Get in touch with Rusty Mango Design on 0488 406 050 and we will work with you all the way (and even beyond) to a great, customer converting website for your small business.

Does your Small Business even need a Website?

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Does your Small Business even need a Website?Yes.

Simple answer, isn’t it?

Oh, you still need more convincing?

Alright then – here’s ten good reasons why your small business needs to get its act together and get an online presence:

#1– The World’s largest Consumer Base

Over 3.2 billion people use the internet in some form on a regular basis, and from that enormous number, it is estimated that at least 80% have purchased goods or services online. That’s roughly 2.6 billion potential customers for you!

Any small business without an effective website is missing out on their piece of the action.

#2 – The Digital Consumer

The internet is now 25 years old – some of your potential customers don’t know a world without it. Your business needs a web presence to engage with the modern digital consumer – they are unlikely to look for you anywhere else.

#3– You can be Available 24/7

Consumers expect to have information accessible to them around the clock from a variety of sources and this includes from your business. A website makes you available 24/7 (even while you are asleep) to provide information, product help and online sales.

#4 – Engage with your Customers

A website helps you connect with your customers on an almost social level. You can communicate through the comments of a Blog (like this one), a website forum that you moderate or via the many channels of Social Media that are available for use. A simple social connection can often be the key to a successful business relationship.

#5– Create a Hub for your Marketing

Got a new product that you want to shout about to the world? Unleash the marketing power of the internet and spread the word like wildfire using your website as the hub and Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn as the tools to “hook” people in.

#6 – Customer Support

Reduce the number of customer support calls to your small business with the inclusion of “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)” page on your website. For more sticky problems that need one-on-one attention, integrate a ticketing system on the site that can be answered promptly by your staff.

#7 – Match it with the “Big Guys”

With a solid online strategy and a well-built website that people can find easily, your business can take on the larger corporations at their own game. On face value, the internet is a great leveller of the playing field – you don’t need the large payroll or a skyscraper in a capital city to make an impact.

#8– Instant Credibility

A professional website with the right information allows your business to attain instant credibility in the eyes of both your potential customers and other businesses. A quick online search by these people could quite easily be the deal maker or breaker, depending on what they find online.

# 9 – Physical Phone Directories are DEAD

 If you need any proof of this, take note that both the Yellow Pages and Local Directories are now offering website services. This hasn’t stopped them still charging an absolute mint for listing in their telephone books however, by branching out, they have acknowledged that online is where the modern consumer is looking for goods and services.

#10 – Build an Audience for your Business

Even if your customers are not in the market right now, an online presence allows you to keep their attention so that when they do need something, your business will be “front of mind”. Social Media, email newsletters, podcasts and video tutorials are just some of the ways you can continue to engage with your customers until they need you again.

Put simply – if you want to grow your business in today’s digital age, it needs a website. Considering the continual evolution of our online population and the growth of businesses who are on the Internet, it could be expensive for your business NOT to have a website.

I’ll bet that your competitors do.

If this article has helped you make a decision about your business’ online presence, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design for a free website development quote.

How to be there for your customers 24/7 (even when you’re asleep)

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How to be there for your customers 24/7 (even when you’re asleep)Sit back for a moment and think of a business that you deal with regularly – one that you enjoy returning to time after time. Now, delving a little deeper, why do you go back to that particular business each time? Is it just for the price of the goods and services?

Chances are (with the exception of the big chain stores), it’s not – you go back for their customer service.

At the end of the day, businesses are often not remembered by the goods and services they provide. They are remembered for the helpfulness of their customer service and the promptness with which it is given.

To the small business owner, time is always valuable and providing a customer service that is high quality, helpful and prompt can take a fair chunk of this time. Fortunately, with the right systems in place, you can provide this level of service through your website.


Here’s five website-based systems that could work for your business:

The Helpdesk

Easy to install on most content management systems, a helpdesk provides a simple form for customers to complete which is sent directly via email to the business. With this system, unless you have staff available 24/7, be sure to indicate on your site the hours that the form will be supported. Outside of these hours, link the Helpdesk straight to the FAQ (see below).

Example: https://www.zendesk.com/

LiveChat

A very popular option, this system incorporates a small pop-up chat window (usually in the lower right of the website screen) that is answered by the business’ staff. When staff are not available (i.e. serving customers in a physical store), most live-chat systems will display a message asking the visitor to leave a question that will be answered ASAP.

Example: http://www.signatureclothing.com.au/

Troubleshooting Guides

These guides can come in a variety of forms, the most popular being factsheets and tutorial videos. Without taking valuable time to answer the same question from a multitude of customers, a guide can help the customer work through the problem themselves. A great example of troubleshooting guides can be found at the front counter of any Bunnings store with their variety of how-to pamphlets.

Example: https://www.telstra.com.au/webforms/cares/

FAQ (Frequently Answered Questions)

Similar to the troubleshooting guides above, the FAQ of a website can be built over time to answer those questions that pop-up repeatedly. With a FAQ, you only have to answer it once and that answer is then available to anyone with the same question in the future. An additional part of an FAQ can include a “smart” form that starts looking for an answer as you begin to type – like Google does when you start to search.

Example: https://vimeo.com/help/faq

Community Forum

Provided you can generate a “following” for your products and services, a forum is great for customers to start helping each other. Users can post questions and they can be answered by either other forum members or members of staff that are available. Once a forum starts “rolling” along, they can be very effective in generating a “tribe” of followers for a business.

Example: http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php


Start small and build your support system over time using the questions that you hear every day. By using actual customer enquiries, you can answer exactly what your cliental needs to know without having to re-invent the content yourself. And by simply setting aside a small amount of time each day/week, you can build a resource that will not only save you time and money but can help your customers even while you sleep.

Note: If you opt to use the non-automated systems such as LiveChat and Helpdesk, your staff must ensure that answers are provided as soon as humanly possible, especially with LiveChat where a customer may be waiting for the answer.

Is your Web Designer legit?

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Is your Web Designer legit?When it comes to the WWW and the sites that live upon it, some small business owners are a little naive about how it all works. This is excusable as there are so many aspects to take into account – domain names, hosting, email accounts, analytics, SEO and social media are just a few of the items that need to be taken into consideration when getting a business online.

That’s why business owners like to hand over all those aspects to their website developer and say “please take care of this for me!”

There is a lot of trust being placed in that last statement – websites are not exactly cheap and, as a small business owner, you need to be able to rely upon your website “guys” to do the right thing. But, as in many industries, there are people who will take advantage of this.

If you are about to embark on the process of getting a web designer, or your current designer just doesn’t “feel right”, follow the three tips below to guide you to a reputable website design business.

#1 – Ask Around

Your business is not the first one ever to go online so take a look at your competitors and your industry in general. Ask them some key questions if you can:

  • Who designed their site?
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your business colleagues who they would recommend and why? (You may have a bit of trouble getting the same information out of your competitors).
  • Is the site generating the business that they need?
  • Is the site difficult to update?
  • What was the design process like when working with the web developer?

Positive testimonials work for all industries including web design so find out who would do the best job for your particular business.

#2 – Check out the web designer’s current portfolios.

All reputable designers will display their work on their own websites so check them out. Make sure that they can deliver styles that are current (not from the late 90’s) and relevant to your business.

One very important aspect that needs to be checked to ensure that you don’t get ripped off – make sure that you are not going to be paying for a template unless it has been made very clear that is exactly what you are paying for. These templates are not created just for your business and working with anyone that uses them can be dangerous as the “designer” may not have the skills to create / modify / reprogram the design to your specific needs.

A quick way to check:

  • Go to one of the sites they have “built” and copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your web browser.
  • Go to http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ and paste the URL into the box provided.

This site quickly looks through the code and will tell you if the site is designed with the WordPress CMS (which is fine) and what theme the site is created with. If the theme is commercially available, this site will also tell you where you can buy it.

Too many times, I have seen so-called “Web Designers” that charge their customers exorbitant amounts of money for “designing” a site which can be purchased elsewhere for a little as $30!  All the “designer” does is change the imagery and add some text.

Note: If you run the website for Rusty Mango Design (http://www.rustymangodesign.com.au) through the theme finder above, you will see my framework theme “Rusty Mango Responsive”. This is a bare bones framework (which I personally created, not purchased) from which I then build all my sites.

It starts out looking like this:

Rusty Mango Responsive

But, by the time I am finished designing the site, it can look like this:

A Smarter Solution

That is real web design!

#3           Take a look at some of their imagery.

A little known tool called TinEye can help identify images that have been used elsewhere on the internet. You can find it at https://www.tineye.com/

TinEyeUsing TinEye is easy:

  • Save an image from anywhere on the net to your hard drive or right-click on it and “Copy Image Location”.
  • Use the box on TinEye to upload the image or simply paste in the image location (Ctrl-V on your keyboard).

TinEye will quickly scour the internet with your image information and come back with any close matches.

Obviously this would be no use on items such as stock photography which will appear everywhere but it can be very useful when checking out “personalised” items such as logos. I recently saw a logo that looked familiar – I had definitely seen it somewhere else.  So I ran it through TinEye and found 107 other logos that looked exactly the same!

Doesn’t say much for a designer if they resort to using stock images to create logos. That to me is not designing as it lacks any creativity and I strongly warn against using any design business that does this.

 

Agreed, the steps above will take some time and effort on the part of the small business owner however a website should be seen as exactly the same as any other investment in your business. You would research any new equipment or plant that you are purchasing for your business, so why not research who is going to build your website – the marketing tool that can drive business straight your door.

Without an effective website, built by someone who cares specifically about your business, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table and digging a hole in your bank account.

Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

Planning your new site for SUCCESS

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Planning your new site for SUCCESSI’ve lost count of the number of times that a new business client has contacted me and said “I decided it was about time that I got a website. I mean, everyone else has got one!” That’s it – that one statement sums up their entire thought process about hiring a professional web designer to produce what could be a very lucrative part of the business’s marketing strategy. That’s generally when I, as the web designer, pull up the reigns and say “Steady on – let’s have a better look at this before we dive on in!”

If you are in the market for a new website, there are a few considerations that you must take in to account before even talking to a web designer.

Be clear on what you want to achieve with your website

Some businesses simply want a web presence so that their physical services can be found (who looks in the Yellow Pages anymore?) Others may look to the web as an additional source of sales through the integration of an online store. Some may just want a place to provide service and support to their customers. Maybe you want to achieve all three? Grab a pen and paper and jot down some notes about the whole purpose for your new website existence. Why are you doing this?

A good website cannot be built overnight

Gone are the days where a website was a simple online version of your company brochure. A fully functional site is comprised of many components, some of which include the visual design, the CMS framework, SEO infrastructure, online commerce tools and backup systems. All of these parts take time to build but most importantly, they take to time to test and fine-tune. If your designer promises this overnight, it’s probably best to look for another designer.

Your Web Designer should be treated like a professional.

Everyone knows someone who has built their own website but just because your nephew built a site for his school assignment, that does not make him a web designer. With all the skills required to make a functional site with the necessary integrated components, a good web designer has honed their skills over many years. You need to trust them to do their best work for your business – and they (generally) will. After all, the future success of their business is dependent on the success of your site – if they do a rubbishy job for you, who else would want to hire them.

A new site never has guaranteed traffic.

As I have mentioned on a number of blog posts, you cannot expect to simply build a site and it will be automatically successful. It won’t appear on Google for a couple of weeks at best so you will need to put in the initial hard yards and get traffic to the site. You need to fill it with quality content and let those in your industry and target audience be aware of its existence. Even then, it will take time to build a following and you, as the business owner, need to be ready for this lull from the beginning. Plan out what you can do once your web designer hands you the “keys”. If you don’t have the time, elect an employee to do the task of web management, if possible.

Right from the get-go, take the time to plan out where you want to go with your new website and what type of end result will be better for your business. Of course, no one can be expected to have all the answers. Once you have chosen a web designer to build your site, hit them up with the hard questions to help formulate a successful web strategy.

Five Reasons Emails are better than Phone Calls

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Emails are better than phone callsIn the initial phase of designing a website for a client, it is very important for me to make a connection via a quick phone call to that person. Even if it is just to confirm that there is a real person behind my email, this initial phone call is often the “closer” on the deal and we can start doing business.

Beyond this however, I am real advocate of email only business. I find that phone calls are often unnecessary, cause disruption to the work flow of business in general and eat away at time that could easily be used more efficiently.

Here are five reasons why email HAS to be the communication line of choice when working with any type of business.

#1 You can’t review a phone call before you have it

Phone calls are often spur of the moment. You can’t look over what you are going to say during a conversation – it just happens. And, as with spur of the moment events, things can be skipped, left out or forgotten completely. This will often to a second, time consuming phone call.

With emails, you can type your thoughts and views quickly, review them and edit before clicking the SEND button. If something is forgotten, it takes less than a few seconds to quickly shoot out a second email however this is less likely to be needed as you have already reviewed the content of the first! Time saved!

#2 It’s hard to set aside time for phone calls

Unless you have a secretary with an iron clad policy to follow (no phone calls between certain hours), you invariably are going to have phone calls dotted throughout your day. Just you are just getting “into the flow” of a new project or work assignment then, bang, in comes that phone call. It takes you away from that important work, breaks your concentration and, when the call is finished, you have to get back into the zone, if possible.

Most efficient email users set aside a portion of their day to use specifically for the purposes of email. They know that, for example, between the hours of 8.00am – 9.00am the emails will be looked at and the correspondence for the day will be taken of – free of interruption.

#3 Emails are easier to focus on the point (no unnecessary small talk)

Phone calls are always filled with some small talk (how’s the family, did you watch the game, great weather we’re having) just to keep the conversation at a friendly level. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, this type of talk is generally reserved for lunchtimes and outside of work hours. It slows productivity and breaks the work flow of the day.

With an email, you can start with curt greeting and launch straight into what needs to be said. No small talk, just action.

#4 You can’t attach anything to a phone call

Have you noticed that very few businesses are utilising the fax machine these days? Some are still holding onto this archaic, out-dated piece of technology but most have realised if you want get that document, file, photo, image or form to its intended recipient, there is no substitute to the prompt delivery of an email attachment. Enough said.

#5 Phone calls can interruption to the work flow of a day

As already pointed out, the main factor against the use of a phone call in favour of an email is the sheer interruption that it can cause to a day. Some people can handle the constant flow of calls (read one of Donald Trump’s books to see how many he fields in a day – moderated by a team of assistants) but most business people need to focus on the work that needs to be done. Scheduled email times and less phone calls will allow them to do just that.

Of course, I will be the first to admit that if you are dealing anyone who is not “on top” of their email then a phone call must be the way to go. Personally, I subscribe to the GTD methods of organisation and this helps me to keep my inbox at zero. It only takes few minutes a day (which I set aside) to answer emails, reply and sort other items into actionable folders.

Are you an advocate of emails or do you prefer to connect and communicate through phone calls? Let me know using the comment section below and start a dialog on the benefits of both.

Week 9 of 52 – It’s crazy! Why wouldn’t a small business be online?

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Why wouldnt a small business be online?Today, the whole world is online. From the school kids down at the skate park to grandparents on their “grey nomad” tours of Australia, each and every one of them is hooked up and on the net. Either through wireless, mobile, cable, fibre optics or copper wire, Australians (and the developed world for that matter) are processing and sharing information at a rate never seen before in history. We do our banking online, our research assignments online, our university courses online and, most importantly to business owners, we shop online.

With all this access, it is still mind-blowing that some businesses (52% of SMBs*) are still living in the dark ages and operating without an internet presence. That is, they don’t have a website. Why? Look at any business not using the web and I’m sure if you asked the owners, they’d be one of the categories below:-

Time Poor – When do I have time to learn about websites?

Running a business is always flat-out and hectic. With stock to order, employees to manage, bills to pay, premises to maintain among a million other things, there’s very rarely anytime left to do anything else. Some businesses use this as the main excuse to not create a website. Unless you can outsource the work of maintaining a website to an employee or an outside agency, the creation of a site just seems like too much of an extra burden. And this is on top of learning how to do it in the first place. It’s all too hard…

Technologically Naive – I don’t know anything about websites!

If a business has been operating for a number of years (i.e. from before the advent of websites) and working along fairly comfortably, the owners of the business may not be fully aware of what a website can do to improve the bottom line of any company. The simple phrase “We’ve done alright without one!” could be the main reason behind unwillingness to expand online. The inherit danger with this attitude is that the business may be missing out on a number of potential sales simply through an unawareness of the World Wide Web and its possibilities.

Another reason could be that the business operators may not be aware of the process to get a website designed and built. Technology can be fairly daunting to some people and websites are no different. Just the mere thought of moving online or even creating a site for the business can leave some people in a cold sweat.

Just Plain Poor – We can’t afford one right now…

With all the responsibilities listed in the section above, money can also be very tight at times and the perceived expense of website development may just be too much for the business to handle at any particular time. Rumours are often perpetuated about sites for small businesses running into the thousands and who has the spare cash to throw around like that?

Let’s debunk these theories one by one.

Firstly, there is no need for a business owner to fret about going online with their business. It merely needs to be seen as another part of your marketing strategy. Take a look at our four steps to getting online here – all you need to do is decide whether you need a website or not (you do!) and get in touch with a web developer to take care of the rest. If you merely want a brochure site that isn’t going to change often, nothing could be easier. But if you do have the time, maybe you could invest in a CMS site that you can update yourself – the learning curve to running your own site is not as steep as you think.

Secondly, if you are swept off your feet and have no time to run a site then get someone else to do it for you. Hire a developer to create the site and a copywriter to create the content – they can do amazing things with just a few dot points about your business, that’s their job. Already have a brochure about your company? A good copywriter can take this brochure and create a whole website of content for you. No photos? No worries. Stock photography is available for your business and only costs a couple of dollars per image.

Finally, although some web developers charge thousands for site development, it doesn’t need to be that expensive. Obviously, you cannot expect a highly polished site for $200 but if you do a little research and ask for a few quotes, you are sure to find a developer that can work within a reasonable budget. Take care though; make sure you check out online portfolios first to ensure that the designer can provide the high quality service you expect.

As you can see, there’s no excuse for not getting your business online these days. If your business wants to grow and continue to be competitive in today’s marketplace – it needs to be online.

And it’s not as hard as some people think!

* SMB: Small to Medium sized Business

 

 

Week 7 of 52 – Why Online Stores are the Best Thing since Sliced Bread

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Why Online Stores are the Best Thing since Sliced BreadIn small towns across North Queensland (and elsewhere I’m sure), there is evidence of an economic downturn on every main street. Many small shop fronts are sitting empty with no real outlook to opening again anytime soon. The factors behind this situation are many and varied but one of the most common blames is put directly onto the rise of online shopping.

If your business sells products of any shape or form, whether they are toasters, cars or even houses, there is absolutely no reason why you should miss out on a cut of the market by not having your very own ecommerce store. It doesn’t matter if you are a huge conglomerate with hundreds of stores nationwide or the local dress shop marketing your own fashions, everyone can have a slice of the pie if they are clever and utilise the power of the web.

There is a huge recompense to having an online store that most business owners don’t recognise and these advantages can’t be achieved through a regular bricks and mortar store.

An online store has no landlord!

Not a single cent is paid in rent for your online store. The only costs you will incur, other than the original design of your site, is the monthly/yearly charge for your web server, the domain name and charges from outside agencies such as PayPal and/or your bank.

When you compare this to the cost of leasing a shop, you can guess who comes out in front. Talking to local business owners in my home town has shown me that the cost of a lease is one of the biggest factors forcing businesses to close. There’s not enough custom through the front door to warrant the outlay. No such problem with an online shop.

Playing level with the Big Guys

When you operate an online store, you can pretend to be as big or small as you want. Many small online operators like to push the “smaller” operation approach as this can help to give you that personal touch missing from one of the larger stores. However, stores like Harvey Norman are trying to cash in on this notion by utilising a chat system that pops up at the bottom of the shop screen. Once again, the small business owner can compete with this through the use of a very simple plug in like ClickDesk or LiveChat.

Open for Business 24/7

An online store means that you can make a sale – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even when you are asleep, your site can be making for you. Imagine logging on at work each morning (during the business week, of course) and seeing a whole backlog of purchases that were made and paid for even while the physical offices of your business were shut! The advantages of this should be whole apparent – you can’t do this with a bricks and mortar store. Once again, you can compete with the big guys – on their level.

Customer Interaction

An Ecommerce store can also be integrated with a healthy Social Media campaign allowing the store to “converse” with customers and potential customers in a friendly environment. Any problems or questions about products and services can be solved with no awkward or sometimes aggravated face to face contact. Tips and tricks can be passed on almost immediately to patrons with no wait time (depending on the level of customer service available) – business owners can answer issues from the luxury of their armchairs at home if they want.

An ideal example of this customer interaction can be seen in full use by Blackmilk Clothing on both their Facebook pages and website. Happy customers can be seen happily conversing with the Blackmilk team and showing off their latest purchases on the pages of the site. In return, the Blackmilk team gets instant feedback and direction, straight from the people wearing their gear.

Final Note

An online store can add an extra line of revenue to a business and it doesn’t even have to be the end of the physical shop front. Caravans Plus in Queanbeyan operate both with an offer in their ecommerce checkout that allows customers to order online and pickup in person, a perfect setup for the grey nomad travelling through that part of the world. No freight!
If you are interested in creating an online store, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design and have a chat about what is possible for your business. We can create ecommerce stores for all types of businesses, large and small.

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