6 Reasons Why Your Small Business NEEDS a Website

We are in the digital age. (Like I needed to tell you that) Everything is on the internet. You want to go on vacation? Internet. You need to book a flight? Internet. You need to book a hotel room? Internet. You need a rental car? Internet. You want to know what movies are showing? Internet. You want to buy movie tickets? Internet. And so on, and on, and on, and on.

Everything happens on the Internet. Why would your business be different?

1.  Credibility.
Most consumers shop online and do research online before making purchases. A well designed website is a great way of promoting customer confidence for your company. A website will give your company the competitive online advantage it needs to drive more business.

2.  Information.
Your small business needs a quick and efficient way to communicate with your customers and potential customers. Think of your website as your online tri-fold brochure. It is far more cost effective to update information about your products and services on the internet than it would be to re-print all of your marketing materials.

3.  Accessibility.
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (366 days on leap year) – Your website doesn’t take breaks or vacations. When your office is closed, your website will continue to provide your clients and potential clients with the information they might need to really nail that sale home! The reach is limitless.

4.  References.
No matter what type of business you are in, your website will be your showcase of work. Pictures, galleries, videos, testimonials, etc. What better way to build credibility and trustworthiness than by providing previous projects and quotes from previous happy clients. Remember the old “references available upon request” tag line? No more. References available on our website!

5.  Customer Service.
A website is the perfect avenue to improve and engage the customer service aspect of your business. By providing answers to common questions, customer requests can be more streamlined. Your customer gets the answers he or she is looking for, meanwhile, freeing up valuable time of your employees to deal with other aspects of the business.

6.  Growth.
You need to hire new talent for your company. Why pay a company to advertise the position for you when you can do it on your own site, for free! You can use your website to post job opportunities and create forms for potential employees to submit their resume online. No more wasted fax paper printing countless resumes.

TIP: Shop around. Many online do-it-yourself web companies start you off at a low and attractive price but then upsell you on additional services you may or may not need. Get a few quotes from a few web design firms. Don’t be shy about sharing the quote with other design firms to get the best possible deal (Of course, hide the price…) – Make sure you compare apples to apples and don’t invest your life savings into a design firm that promises you the world. Your new website should be simple yet attractive and should complement your business. If the price is too high, or the timeline is too long, look for alternatives.

Related Topic:  Why Instagram is Essential for Your Business Marketing Strategy

The 8 DON’T’s of Resigning from Your Job

Before you decide to resign from your current place of employment, there are a few things you should think about and consider.  (Two weeks notice would be really nice and professional) 

WARNING: If you are leaving to start your own business, my hat is off to you and I wish you nothing but the absolute best as you enter entrepreneurship. As a word of warning, read my post about Double Employment. Still ready to start your business? Let’s go!

1. No venting allowed.
I know. You hate your boss. You hate your job. You hate that company. Quitting is the best thing that ever happened to you. Keep it gracious and professional. Your resignation letter will be in your employment file and it can always peek its head when you least expect it. Don’t write about how much your boss was terrible. Don’t write about how much you did and nobody ever appreciated you. Gracefully submit your resignation and wait out your time.  

Side Tip:  If they ask for an exit interview, grant it.  Be positive.  Maintain the bridge.  

2. Don’t steal that pen!
A pen, who cares right? You don’t want to be known as that former employee who walked away with the pen, the stapler, the hole puncher, the wireless keyboard & mouse, and the box of free folders. I know, this one might be out of line. It is just a friendly reminder to keep you honest and thinking about the big picture.

3. Turn the negatives into positives.
Surly, you have to tell a few of your co-workers about your resignation. Don’t get into the gossip trap of talking bad about the company, your boss, or your co-workers. Nothing good can come out of you bad-mouthing the entire family tree of the company. Instead, tell your co-workers what a rewarding experience it has been for you to work there. You never know when one of these co-workers will leave and call on you to join their new company. Leaving on good terms is critical.

4. Nobody cares about your new job.
I know. You went from the absolute worst job in the world to the absolute best job in the world. Nobody cares. Count your blessings and move on. No need to rub it into others faces or gloat about your new found luck. Maintain relationships as you leave.  

5. Mind your manners. Say goodbye.
It is perfectly acceptable for you to send a goodbye e-mail message to all of your co-workers letting them know you are moving on. Remember to include contact information so they can stay in touch. You never know where your next big opportunity will come from. (It might even come from your former company, since you left on such positive vibes)

6. Keep working. For two more weeks.
You hand in your two weeks’ notice – translation: I can now sit here for the next two weeks and wait. WRONG. Do not be that employee who forgot that down the road, you might actually need a letter of recommendation from these people. Your willingness to train your replacement or tie up loose ends before you leave a company will go a long way in helping you maintain that bridge between you and the company.

7. Don’t tell Facebook or Twitter too soon.
Make sure your manager or your boss is aware of your resigning before going public with it. There is nothing worse than having to explain a leaked social media story about your resignation before the powers that be actually know about it.

8. Don’t resign unless you mean it.
Weak threats to get what you want. If you threaten to resign, do it. Don’t be the guy who talks big and doesn’t act on words. Have a plan. Make sure you have money in the bank. Make sure you have a solid written offer from your new company. Make sure you have the support of your friends who are starting your new company with you. Just make sure. And make sure again. Now resign.

Related Articles: 
The Top 7 Tips for Starting Your Own Business
4 Secrets to Building Better Business Relationships

6 Must Have Tools to Start Your Startup


Business Startups

So you want to start a startup. You have been thinking about all the logistics and all the everyday challenges that you might face in your new endeavor.

There are certain tools out there that will make your life as a startup entrepreneur much more manageable. All of these are all tools that we have used at some point in our startup lives. Some have withstood the pressure of growth and others were just a stepping stone to move onto better things.

Here is our list, in no particular order:

1.  Stripe (www.stripe.com)
In today’s market, every customer wants to pay by using a credit card. Some accounting firms will actually go out on a limb and say that you might lose up to 60% of potential business if you are not accepting credit cards. Enter Stripe. Stripe is an online payment collection portal that directly competes with PayPal. It boasts features such as: Invoicing, refunds, coupon codes, prorated charges, monthly re-occurring charges, etc.

Unlike PayPal, they don’t hold on to your money. You charge a credit card and the money is transferred to your bank account within 2 days. The online portal to charge cards is super easy to use. If you are a website developer you can integrate Stripe into your website as your payment portal.

Cost? 2.9% of the total amount plus .30 per successful charge.

2.  Google Apps for Work (www.google.com/Business)
E-Mail perception is everything. If you are already this deep into your startup then you need to forego the free e-mail address and get professional. You know that one friend of yours who is a plumber and his email address is perfectplumber@yahoo.com or thebestplumber@gmail.com – don’t be that business.

Google Apps for Work allows you to have your professional e-mail address: mike@perfectplumber.com – see the difference? Professional. Credible. Trustworthy.
With your professional email account, you also receive: 30GB of storage, freedom to work from anywhere utilizing the gmail interface, business grade security and spam filtering, and many more features.

Cost? $5 per month. Totally worth the investment.

3.  Asana (www.asana.com)
The tagline here is “Teamwork without email”. We use Asana for projects that we have going on and need more than one person to collaborate with. This web based project management tool allows you to create multiple projects and invite multiple team members to join specific projects. Easily allows you to create, assign, and comment on tasks. Now you always know who is doing what and at what stage of the project.

You don’t always have your laptop with you. Sometimes, ideas or tasks strike in the middle of a ball-game or in the middle of dinner. Asana has developed mobile apps for all of your devices that sync seamlessly with the cloud to always give you and your team the knowledge edge you need to stay working.

Cost? Less than 14 team members? Free!

4.  Dropbox (www.dropbox.com)
Think of it as your server on the cloud. It’s a perfect spot for you to put your photos, docs, videos, and files. Dropbox syncs across all computers and mobile devices. I start off working on a document at the office and save it to Dropbox. I continue working on it from home and save it back to Dropbox. On my way to work, I remember I forgot to send it – log in and send it via iPhone. (I know, what a fantastic scenario … right?)

Additionally, Dropbox allows you to share specific folders with specific friends, clients, or co-workers. Example: My business partner and I have an Excel sheet that tracks new unforeseen expenses. We share an Excel sheet in the Dropbox folder that we both have access to; which allows either one of us to make changes and edits. Once we save, it is almost like we saved it on each other’s computers.

Computer meltdown? Phone went for a swim? Latte all over laptop? Don’t worry – everything is on the cloud!

Cost? 2GB of storage… Free!

5.  Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics/)
Running a new business means keeping tabs on the numbers. Does your new website generate enough traffic? Where does the majority of the traffic come from? What are the demographics of your visitors? These are all questions that you, as the new business owner, must be able to answer.

Google Analytics uses all sorts of reporting and charting features to give you the power to make decisions based on your results.

Cost? Free!

6.  MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com)
Email marketing. Without the marketing budget. Any business you start will require you to get the word out and get it out fast! MailChimp allows you to email the right person at the right time. You can send automated emails based on your clients and their preferences. MailChimp even recommends the best send time within 24 hours of your selected delivery date, determined by your specific list’s engagement data.

Busy on the go? No problem! MailChimp is available on your mobile devices. Now you can send anytime, anywhere, to anyone. No more e-mail marketing excuses. Get those newsletters out!

Cost? 12,000 e-mails to 2,000 subscribers …. Free!

Related Business Startup Articles: 
Why Instagram is Essential for Your Business Marketing Strategy
The Top 7 Tips for Starting Your Own Business

9 Ways to Save Your FAILING Social Media Marketing Campaign

Social Media Marketing
Here is what you did:
You either hired a “Social Media Expert” or you did it yourself. You created a Facebook page, a Twitter page, a Linked-IN page, a Pinterest board, a Google+ page, and an Instagram page. Your trusty expert, or you, scheduled a bunch of messages to auto-post every 120 minutes; mostly useless quotes and quirky sayings. Now you are sitting back and trying to figure out why your Social Media Marketing Strategy failed.

Here is what you should fix:

1.  Pick your brand.
Which Social Media platform is right for you? All of them? Pick the platform that would reach your potential market with the highest numbers. I know the temptation is to utilize all of them. Pick your priority. For example, my author friend uses Twitter, Facebook, and Linked-IN; in that order, without thinking about the other platforms. Prioritize which is your best avenue and spend the majority of your time building that community first.

2.  Trust & Credibility.
Your Social Media Marketing campaign should put you in a position of expertise. Your community and followers should consider you the expert when it comes to your profession. Sometimes, this means that you teach, you tutor, or you advise. Once you establish yourself as an expert in your field, then it becomes easy to start converting visitors into prospects.

3.  Sales Process.
The biggest misconception about Social Media is that business owners attempt to build awareness and a following to their brand. Did you know that in 2014 only 29% of all Social Media Traffic follows a Brand? The purpose of your Social Media Marketing is about turning prospects and leads into customers.

4.  Engage.
Don’t just post because that is what you are supposed to do. Provide value to those who follow your brand. Also, remember to share their content that might be relevant to your community. They will recognize your efforts and will most likely return the favor. Remember, your fans and followers don’t want commercialized content, they want conversation.

5.  Automation.
Social Media automation is quickly becoming the frown of the market. Ever follow someone on Twitter and you receive an instant message directing you to their Facebook page for an additional Like? Your community will fast recognize this lazy behavior and drop you like yesterday’s garbage. Sincerity and interaction will go a lot farther than automation.

6.  Commitment.
You spend 10 minutes a day on Social Media. Now you ask why your Social Media Marketing is failing. Social Media is like a marriage. It takes time to nurture and grow. Spend as much time as necessary to engage and converse with as many people as possible about your expertise. Be prepared to do this a few times per day, including weekends. Don’t expect your list of fans, followers, and subscribers to grow overnight. This is a slow process.

7.  Content.
Your goal is quality not quantity. If your Twitter account has 100 followers but every post gets 8 “Favorites” and some Re-Tweets, you are in better shape than a page with 2,000 followers and zero Favorites and zero Re-Tweets. Remember the buzz word “conversation & engagement” the more of this you can promote the more your content will appeal.

8.  Follow your follower count.
A watched pot never boils, right? If this number isn’t increasing with time, you should take a good long look in the mirror and attempt to identify why they are leaving you. Is your content irrelevant? Is your content controversial? Is your content a poor indication of your industry? Can your community relate to your content? Tackle these hard self-defining questions and come up with changes that will bring your followers back to you.

9.  Safety.
Nobody has ever done it this way, why should you? You make your Social Media follow the norm because that’s how they all do it. Is this how you want to run your campaign? Stop playing it safe and take risks. There are 150,000 ways of utilizing Social Media Marketing. All of them were stumbled upon by people taking risks.

“If we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect to employ methods never before attempted.” – Sir Francis Bacon

What Social Media Marketing mistakes have you made that have made the world of difference? 

Related Topic:  Why Instagram is Essential for Your Business Marketing Strategy