Archive for May, 2010

Web Seizure

Today I want to share an experience with one of my “entrepreneurial seizures.”   With this particular project I wanted to create a company that could do everything!  I have to say, I still believe the idea is great and it could be successful.  However, trying to create a website that could actually DO everything was much more of a challenge and a lot of things I didn’t expect.  Here are three things I learned from that experience:

1.  It’s much easier to create a STATIC site.  Static sites are basically glorified business cards/brochures.  You work with a designer to create a custom professional web design and you give him content that will remain there indefinitely.  You’re site will not change.  It remains static until you decide to change it.

This type of site is great if you simply want to create web presence.  It is a place where customers (or potential customers) can go to find information about your company.  However, there is no interaction with them.

2.  The next thing I learned was that if you want an e-commerce site, and you are not familiar or don’t want to spend the time to learn how to plug things together, you need someone who can do at least basic programming.  (Not all graphic designers can do this type of programming.)  Some companies would want a specific cart developed for them.  However, there are many existing carts that can be plugged into a site to make it an e-commerce site.

3.  The last thing I learned was that if you want any backend features, like a customer’s account, or any automated features, you need a programmer that can create these things for you.  (Once again, this may be a different person from your graphic designers.  Many designers are great artists and can give you the look you want, but they don’t have the programming skills to give you the automation you want.)

In the end, the site that I had envisioned that was designed, had e-commerce features and a backend, took me much longer than I expected!  I actually had to work with several people in order to get the result I wanted.  By the time it was finished, I was way past that seizure and on to my next great idea!

So, before you start on a web project, make sure you know what the whole project would entail.

Doing the Dishes

I don’t know when I started, but I’m pretty sure it was when I was still young.  My siblings and I each had our assigned day to wash the dishes.  My parents refused to buy a dishwasher because, hey, they had dishwashers!  It wasn’t until we all grew up and left home did they opt for buying a machine.

I have to say, I carry on that tradition to an extent.  My kids are assigned to do the lunch dishes. However, they tend to be much more enterprising than I was!  One day the eldest offered to pay her sibling for the service.  Today, the youngest exchanged her family game choosing privilege for the service.  In the end, they both felt like it was worth it to have someone else do the task.  Maybe the virtual assistance business is rubbing off on them!  They clearly see the value of outsourcing a minimal task for the right cost.

So here’s the question, can you recognize the benefits of virtual assistance?  I would clump busy work like data entry jobs, address book management, data mining, newsletters, etc, under the category of business “dishes.”  These jobs don’t need to occupy your time!  You should focus on what will grow your business and improve your company.

What would you rather be doing: the “dishes” or calling the shots?

What a website can do for your business.

There are many approaches to marketing.   For simplicity sake, today, I’m going to lump them into two groups.  The traditional marketing approach including billboards, signs, mail, etc.  The second is a relatively new, but increasingly popular approach, we know as Internet marketing.

At the core of Internet marketing are websites.  One business may feel like they are successful simply with word of mouth.  Another business my feel like their type of business doesn’t belong on the Internet.  Here are 3 reasons why I think every business should have their own website:

1. Gives you web presence

Let’s face it, if a customer wants to know about a business, the easiest thing to do is google it.  Basically, if your business is nowhere to be found on the web, it’s almost as if it doesn’t exist!

2.  Helps establish your brand

I want you to think about computers.  What is the first thing that popped into your mind?  For the majority of people I bet it would be Apple, Dell, HP, Acer . . . notice, it’s the BRAND, not necessarily the computer itself. There are many companies that can help you create a custom professional web design.  A website can help you establish your brand.

3.  Say what YOU want to say about yourself.

Granted, you can piggyback on common sites so your business can at least have web presence.  However, with your own website you are in control of the content.  This is where you can let your customers know what YOU want them to know about your business.  This is where you can flaunt what you want to flaunt.

To sum it up, I still believe a business needs a combination of both marketing approaches in order to reach a wide range of potential customers.  Today, there are so many options for affordable professional web design.  Let them help you create your own website that gives you web presence that establishes your brand and puts you in control of what you want customers to know.