All Grown Up – Why Your Small Business Needs A Web Solution, Not A Website

Raise your hand if you have a website for your small business. Now keep it raised if it is generating a significant volume of prospects or sales. Not holding your hand up anymore? You are not alone.

Just a few years ago, small companies flocked to the web in droves, rushing to post their first website, anxious at the prospect of low-cost instant exposure. The web was going to be the great equalizer, putting small business on par with the big brand names, dangling the promise of visitors flocking to a company’s site to purchase its wares or partake in its services. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, for most small businesses and organizations, the promise fell short and company sales did not skyrocket from an unending march of site visitors.

So, what happened? For one, the web quickly became ultra competitive. Millions of sites sprang up in every business category making it virtually impossible to be found in the search engines. What little bit of traffic the businesses may have enjoyed when the site was first launched began to dry up. Also, as the web evolved to become a more interactive user experience, it became more technologically complex and many small business websites did not keep up. The other part of the problem was in the approach; not understanding that just putting together a website, even a pretty one, and finding some faceless company offering cheap web hosting services is not likely to make you the next great success story. A large hurdle that many small business owners and managers face is the tendency to compartmentalize the web into a few oversimplified tasks: grab a cheap domain name, find a budget small business website design and development person, look for some impossibly low-priced website hosting, and then expect their website to magically appear on page one of Google. Unfortunately, this ends up being a waste of time and money.

A Solutions-Based Approach with Professional Guidance

To create an effective web presence requires a solutions-based approach with clear ideas about what you want to accomplish and who the audience is you are targeting. The right elements have to be present; a well orchestrated website design with cohesive branding, solid technical acumen, clearly defined objectives for the organization, reliable small business web hosting services and some method of marketing your site and tracking the results. The web is constantly evolving and search engine competition is fierce. Being successful on the web requires consistently evaluating the site’s effectiveness based on your objectives, understanding the latest technologies and trends, having a dynamic website marketing plan and constantly fine tuning.

While you don’t have to spend a fortune to create real value on the web, you should also be realistic. Understand that being successful will require an investment that you should plan for and a clear vision of how your website fits into the goals and objectives of the organization. If you don’t have the experience and technical resources in-house, working with a professional web solutions provider, preferably one specializing in small business web design and development can provide great benefits. A good starting point in the process is to have an understanding of the core elements that are part of a successful website strategy and how they fit together.

The Elements of a Web Solution

1) Domain names – Choosing the right domain name is an important branding decision which impacts how your organization is perceived and also how it is found in the search engines. Purchasing from a cheap bulk registrar or choosing can spell trouble.

2) Website Design & Development Services – Find a provider that specializes in small business web design and development. An organization that offers a solutions-based approach can assist your company in doing thorough needs analysis and in designing all of the elements to work well together. First impressions count!

3) E-mail Management – E-mail is a key communication tool for your business. The right system will help you maximize communications within the company, on the road and with your customers.

4) Social Media – Social media such as blogging, Podcasting and other web 2.0 tools can greatly enhance customer communications. Your web services company should be able to help you evaluate how social media tools can best benefit your web presence and business objects.

5) Small Business Website Hosting Services – All web hosting is NOT created equal. There are many nuances and technical consideration involved with hosting solutions. It is best to stay away from budget hosting companies. Look for a managed hosting provider who can help you select the right plan for your web solution goals, get your website up and running and support you as it grows and evolves.

6) Website Maintenance – How will your site be maintained and updated? Having both small business web development and managed web site hosting as a package is immensely helpful for maximizing web server resources, identifying problems and keeping the site maintained and updated.

7) E-Commerce – Will you be actually selling on your site or using it for lead generation or information dissemination? If you are selling products, who will create and maintain your product database. How will transactions be handled? What about web server requirements? Working with a professional can help ensure you make the right choices for your e-commerce site.

8) Business Process Interaction (database development, customer relationship management, integration with your business management systems) – A website needs to be more than just an ad on the Internet to be effective as a business tool. There are many ways the web can be used to improve your business processes and integrate with your existing systems such as accounting or contact management.

9) Website Marketing – How will people find you on the web? Will you optimize your site for organic search or employ paid marketing techniques or a combination? What directories should you list your site in? Search engine marketing has evolved to be a complex specialty. It’s critical that you understand the tools available for driving traffic to your site and if needed, know how to evaluate and engage a web marketing specialist.

10) Website Analytics and Conversion – Having a great site isn’t enough if your visitors aren’t doing what you intended; buying something, contacting your company or using your site for an information source. Does your site have usability issues? What kind of reporting will you use to track site visitors? What do you need to know and do to convert your visitors into action-takers?

It’s a Process and a Work in Progress

While there is certainly a lot to think about, creating the best possible website solution for your business doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Your website can and should be a work in progress, evolving as your business grows. Because most small businesses do not have an internal IT staff to handle the technical elements of web development and planning, working with a web solutions provider that specializes in small business website hosting services and small business web design and development is a good start. Such an organization can help you identify your goals, manage the technical aspects of your site and guide you in your marketing efforts. They can also help you work within your budget to develop a plan that combines all the elements into a cohesive whole for creating and maintaining a successful web presence.

Conclusion

The web has grown up to be a terrific marketing medium for small businesses and organizations. Done right, it can be the most cost effective and powerful marketing and communication tool in your arsenal. The promise is still there. However, to truly leverage the power of the web, it is important to take a good, hard look at the website you currently have or the one you are thinking about creating. The elements of a successful web presence: small business web hosting, website design and development and web marketing are only the framework for a well thought-out web solution designed to reach your customers and truly benefit your business.

Internet Home Business

Running an internet home business can be exciting for anyone who likes dealing with customers, fulfilling orders, or maintaining a web site. There is much money to be made in this endeavor. Deciding which internet home business to invest in or create can be difficult unless a person has a background in something that is marketable on the internet. Many people make the transition from working for a company to working on their own by applying their skills to running their own business. An internet business can bring a person much joy and comfort while affording them more time to spend with friends and family.

There are many jobs that utilize the internet including consulting, editing, selling products, offering advice, creating web sites, photography, and graphic design just to name a few. Some people work for a company but work from home due to the nature of their job. Data entry specialists, customer service representatives, and other customer support roles are being offered to those who want to work form home. These people report to work at a certain time and work a regular work day except they are working form home. Answering customer questions and complaints via email has become a very popular way to conduct business. It saves space and money if a person is based at home. As long as a person gets their work done, they will continue to have a job.

An internet home business is for those who are responsible enough to set their own schedule, want to make as money as possible, and are able to provide quality service in an industry that needs them. They do not have to dress up, or deal with office politics. People who run their own businesses are usually very happy and would not go back to the traditional way of working. This does not mean that in the future they might not go back to work for another person, but chances are, they will find another internet positions or start their own business.

Starting an internet home business is easy. There is little overhead cost involved. Many companies will furnish a person with a computer or expect them to have one. A person will need an internet connection and usually will need a fax machine. Other than that, the person does need anything else to do their job professionally. When a person decides to start their own business, they may need more equipment. This will be different for different people and what they are trying to accomplish on the internet. Many home businesses are run successfully on the internet. People use the internet every day for many of their needs. From buying clothing to ordering dinner, the internet has become a necessity. The people who are profiting off of it will not run out of work any time soon.

How to Find the Best Home Internet Business

The first and most important rule to remember when you are selecting the best Internet business idea is the one that works for you. Often times the best Internet business, idea you can come up with is one that you will have fun doing.

A founder who has enthusiasm will often help a business thrive and survive far beyond other companies in the same field. However, you cannot have enthusiasm to keep your business running if you don’t like your job.

In addition, modern technology and Internet has made it possible and easy for almost anybody to thrive with an Internet based business. As long as you love your idea and you understand it then you will have a thriving business.

The second rule you should remember when selecting the best home internet business is if there is a good marketing system in place. You need to have an advanced plan or idea that will help generate the best possible traffic to your business or subscribers to your email newsletter. While you run your business always, keep in mind that without traffic you don’t have a business no matter how good your idea is.

When selecting the best home internet business you should be on the look out for some advantages that only the best internet business opportunities would have. These advantages may not look very important at first but they will eventually make the difference between early some spending money from your business opportunity and regularly taking home a six-figure check every month from your business opportunity without ever having to leave the house.

The best of the Internet business opportunities usually have a long and detailed section on affiliate information. Go to this section and check out the details. These details should provide you all the information you need to know how best to sell the Internet business opportunity. Having a large affiliate section is important since you won’t make any money off your business without sales. The larger the affiliate section the easier it will be for you to make an income off your home internet business. Some of the best opportunities even have a list of key contacts.

It is also a good idea to go with Internet business opportunities that have a detailed and specific payment policy and preferably one that allows you to be paid for second and even third tier affiliate sales. This means you are paid for sub affiliates that you introduce to the business program. This way you can earn an income off both your direct sales and those of the ones who have joined the program. This can make a big difference in the size of the paycheck you receive.

Managing Stress in the Family Business – Run the Business Like a Business

“Family business” means many things to many people, from the family farm to the heirs who own business empires built by their ancestors. Millions of small businesses today are family businesses. They might be a husband-wife or father-son team, they might be family members developing former farmland into a nursery or managing their golf course. They might be siblings-turned-partners trying their hand at a new business or there might be relatives working for relatives. The variations are endless because families are unique and oppportunities for family-owned and family-run businesses come in all different sizes and shapes.

As the manager of a family business you can utilize principles gleaned from the experience of others who have walked in your shoes. Much of that experience was painful. Managing family business is “tricky business.” Your stress level will be lower if you learn from the experience of others. Here are four of those learnings.

Run the family business like a business, not like a family. Base business decisions on the market, the merits of your product or service, the company’s ability to fill orders and performance levels of your workers. Do not base decisions on whose feelings might get hurt, whose loyalties could be betrayed or what old scores haven’t been settled.

Translation: the family members are challenged to put aside family dynamics in favor of business principles and business-like behaviors. Sometimes adult children need to supervise their parents in the business. Sometimes a family member needs to be the boss even though he or she may not be the oldest, smartest or most respected member of the family. Sometimes the family needs to hire an outside person to be the manager.

Be guided by the business plan. First be sure to have a business plan! Keep it up to date. One of the beauties of having a business plan is that it separates personal considerations from business considerations. The manager is simply following the plan. The unpopular decisions “are not personal.” The mere fact that you manage according to the plan serves to emphasize that business is business, no matter how many family members might be involved.

and not at any other time. Families value peace and stability. Once decisions are made there is little desire to consider change and start debating all over again, much less risk triggering new arguments. Business, however, is not like that. There must be an openness to change in light of ever-changing factors such as competition, market trends, and labor and production costs.

One big factor triggering change is Success means growth in the business and also a need to carefully consider the best use of increased cash flow funds, tax sheltering of company profits and best use of surplus funds. Sometimes family members are tempted to view company profits as their piggy bank. The manager must take responsibility to prevent raids on the piggy bank if the business is to endure and prosper long term.

Be sure to seek appropriate professional advice. Whether it be accounting, legal, marketing or tax matters, keep informed and be guided by the best current thinking. Remember, the tendency in families is to set a course and stick with it. Decisions made in the past might not fit today’s’ business climate. It is the manager’s responsibility to keep company policy sensitive to current business trends. To the extent that you report advice from professionals you are giving a second message as well: opinions based on family considerations must be considered differently than professional business advice.

Translation: in families the views of each member matter and should be considered. In families the goal is to promote good relationships and mutual support. But in business the goal is to succeed with the business. Family members are challenged to be good employees, good workers, good business directors and good team players while putting aside personal matters. Separating family from business opinions and decisions is neither easy nor totally achievable but it should be a goal.

Bottom line: family businesses vary greatly. All businesses vary greatly. The secret to managing is to stick with what successful businesses have in common: sound business practices. These begin with separating personal matters from business matters, following a sound and well-informed business plan, taking good advice and changing when change is merited.

Do these thing and you will have less nightmares and steady nerves!