Creating a Website that Does Almost Nothing.


business successs secrets

I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners in creating websites for their business – and often discover during the process that there’s a lot of “magical” thinking out there when it comes to web site development.

Many business owners just assume that by simply creating a website, they’re going to automatically experience floods of traffic from qualified prospective clients/customers.

They expect the website to collect and process leads while acting as a 24/7/365 sales force that never sleeps.

Of course all of the above is possible – but only if you build the website with accomplishing those goals in mind.

In Steps to Starting a Small Business, I advise small business owners to:

Remember, when you’re starting your own small business everything is going to take longer and cost more than you planned.

Chances are, you aren’t a MASTER at all of the jobs you’re going to need performed in your small business, so you should probably plan on farming out at least SOME of the work.

One of the jobs I recommended you farm out is the development of your website because there truth is, unless you’re an experienced web developer, the first website you create is going to be a piece of shit.

(Sometimes even experienced web developers need a little help at seeing “the forest for the trees” which means, it’s possible for an experienced web developer to create a piece of shit for themselves – even though they “know” better!)

Whether it’s your first website or your first blog, you wil no doubt be FILLED with pride when you complete it.    If there were such a thing, surely your website would win the “good for a beginner”  award.

The problem is, no one is “grading” this project.  This is your BUSINESS we’re talking about!  If your business is small, then you REALLY want to do everything you can to make your business look – professional, established and trust worthy!

If money is tight, the last thing you want to scrimp on is your web presence!

Here’s one of the first websites I ever created – talk about long ago and far away: WADERS.  I created these web pages by hand using Notepad.  I thought WYSIWYG HTML editors were for the weak and addle minded!  (Turns out they were MAGIC for those who charged by the hour!)  The site was created when you accessed the internet via dial up and a 28.8 baud modem was FAST!

When you come to those pages “organically” there isn’t anyone explaining my beginning programming status.  There’s no commentary saying, “These were created without an WYSIWFG HTML editors.”  “Look ladies and gentlemen, she’s an economics major performing low level (HTML) programming!  Let’s hear it for her!”

Thank goodness the websites I later created for pay were better than those I created in my humble beginnings!

If you’ve read more than 2 blog posts on this blog, you’ll know that I’m all about “integrity”, “authenticity” and most of all “trust“. I believe that trust is the foundation of any successful business.  I am CONVINCED that “branding” and “TQM” are attempts at QUANTIFYING the trust a company has established with its customers.


The Exclusive Concepts website features a blog post headline:  Bad Advice in the Wall Street Journal: Creating a Website for Almost Nothing. Scott writes:

Instead, the title should have been, “Creating a Website that Does Almost Nothing.”
(NOTE:  YES, I STOLE THIS FOR THE TITLE – IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY!!!)

The Wall Street Journal is offering bad advice to millions of small business readers by recommending an “on the cheap,” “don’t bother to think it through” approach to the 64% of small businesses (businesses under 100 employees) that don’t yet have a website.

I find it ironic that while the WSJ continues to tout the fact that the web is changing the world, the author, Vauhini Vara, would have you think that your company can capitalize on this by launching a cheap website that is nothing more than a hope and a prayer.

After reading the article it is clear to me that “objective” experts informed very little of the information provided. In fact, the first thing I did when I finished the article was to see if it was labeled as an advertising supplement.

Scott goes on to THOROUGHLY dissect and dismantle the article.    He’s brilliant, he’s articulate and he’s right on the money.

Because I recognize the TRUTH in what he says, he’s already gone a LONG way towards building trust with me.  Not because he’s referenced in an article oniMedia Connection – because he’s writing and sharing his expertise.  I recognize the truth in his analysis and truth leads to trust.

Building Trust is What Blogs Do Best!

Scott was inspired to share truth (one of the signs of a good SEO practictioner, according to Ron Belanger’s article) instead of hiding behind a veil of secrecy.   In doing so, he’s instantly gained my trust – while alerting me to a reason why the WSJ doesn’t deserve mine anymore.

There are SO MANY small businesses with websites that do almost nothing.  When they start looking for answers – they find websites that shouldn’t get an ounce of trust.  These peoploe don’t know what they don’t know, so it’s buyer beware time.  They’ll spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on empty promises.   If they survive long enough, they might find the answers they need.

It’s one thing when a no name nobody slaps up a one page sales page and buys adspace to promote this garbage.  However, when the Wall Street Journal presents it as “news” – well – this comes at a time when I thought my opinion of the press couldn’t get any lower!

 

Steps to Starting a Small Business: #2 – The Implementation

In the first post of this series, Steps to Starting a Small Business: #1 – The Idea, I covered what is perhaps the most IMPORTANT part of starting a small business – the idea behind your business.

Once you’ve got an idea whose passion has taken you prisoner, it’s time to get down to the next step which is the implementation.

You know – the BORING stuff like the legal FORM of your business, choose an accounting method, apply for an EIN, set up a business checking account, order business cards and stationery – yada, yada, yada!

One of those “yadas” may be to apply for a line of credit or a business loan. There’s been a lot of debate over years over the cost associated with starting your small business.

In one online debate, the two sides are arguing over how much it really costs to start a freelance business. One side says plan on spending a couple of hundred dollars, while the other puts the figure quite a bit higher in the $1,000 – $3,000 range.

Remember, I’ve worked with HUNDREDS of wanna-be small business owners and I have to say, the $300 or less plan is a very dangerous point of view to adopt.

When you’re starting your own small business everything is going to take longer and cost more than you planned.

Chances are, you aren’t a MASTER at all of the jobs you’re going to need performed in your small business, so you should probably plan on farming out at least SOME of the work.

  • If you’re not a web developer, you’ll probably need to hire one to create your website or blog.
  • If you’re not an accountant, you probably need to find one to help you set up the book keeping for your business.
  • If you’re not a graphic artist, you’ll probably need to hire one to create your logo and identity package.

The list goes on and on. (Trust me!)

Without a doubt, the biggest obstacle you face as you start your small business is trying to do EVERYTHING yourself.

Several years ago, I wrestled with a client for almost a year over the opening page to her website. That’s right, it took 12 full months to create a single page. She was obsessed with not only controlling every aspect of the appearance of her website, but she was EQUALLY determined to spend as little as possible.

The thing is, she had a GREAT idea for a small business. Unfortunately, putting up the site was quickly turning into a decades long ordeal and during that time another competitor came to market offering a similar service. My client lost her opportunity to be “first to market” and the last I heard, she had given up on the idea all together.  Meanwhile, her competitor is enjoying the accolades and success of being “first” to market.

Time is NOT money. You can always make more money. You can’t make more time!

Time is constantly ticking away. Ooops! There went another second. No matter how much money you have in the bank, you can’t get back that last second.

This is important. If you’ve got a GREAT idea for a business – one which has captured your every waking moment, every day is precious. Trust me, if it’s a GREAT idea, someone else is working on it.

Every hour you spend trying to piece together your brochure or trying to create a header for your blog in Photoshop, is another hour you postpone the grand opening of your business.

If you’re charging $50 an hour for your services – start viewing the job of designing your business cards, designing your header, setting up your blog via that lens.

You may pay $750 to have a talented graphic artist put together an identity package for you, but in all probability that is probably the BEST use of your time and resources.

See, If you spend 40 hours trying to learn how to create a logo in Photoshop – that means you’ve invested $2000 of your time in creating your identity package. Unfortunately, the logo YOU design probably won’t look as professional as the one you would have HIRED someone to create and may actually PREVENT you from signing clients.

UGH!

I believe this is what my mother would call being, “Penny wise and pound foolish.”

Meanwhile, if you’d hire an experience graphic artist, you’ll get a professionally designed logo which communicates without words all that your business is and does.

That’s why I cringe when I hear someone tout “ultra shoestring” budgets for launching any business.  Create a business plan. If necessary, take out a business loan or better yet – start it after spending a full day at your ‘real” job for a while.

Whatever your do – don’t start your business under capitalized. Plan on everything taking longer and costing more than you think it will.

Now, I’m not advocating getting VC style funding which enables you to splurge on polished marble floors for your office and a hiring half naked, well built men to massage your shoulders as you work.

[Wow – all of a sudden,  I’m wishing for some VC funding.  I believe I just unwittingly set a GOAL for myself with that previous sentence!]

Get enough cash so the desperation doesn’t ring in your voice as you go out and try to drum up clients. If you can do that without a loan, all the better!  However,  while”balls to the wall” isn’t usually isn’t the preferred mode, some people NEED that kind of pressure to get started.

Your comments – as always – are welcome!

Steps to Starting a Small Business: #1 – The Idea

The topic of starting a small business is ALWAYS a popular one.  If you are a small business owner and you meet someone who is toying with the idea of starting a small business, you’ll probably hear the question asked, “How did you get started?”

Too many times, this question leads to a very dry discussion of accounting methodologies and business structure issues.

YAWN!

Here it is from someone who has “been there, done that”  I’ve not only bought the T-shirt but I’ve worked with HUNDREDS of people in helping them to achieve the dream of marketing and promoting their own small business.

  • The first step to starting a small business is NOT deciding upon a legal structure for your business.
  • The first step to starting a small business is NOT performing a SWOT analysis, a competitor analysis or any other kind of “analysis”.
  • The first step to starting a small business is NOT creating a logo,  ordering business cards or creating a website.

Are you ready – [drumrollfinger on desk]

The first step to starting a small business is the birth of the idea!

“Money never starts an idea. It is always the idea that starts the money.”Owen Laughlin

Starting a small business with the idea that you’re going to make a LOT of money is a piss poor reason to launch a business.   As a matter of fact, if there’s a BETTER way to achieve failure, I can’t think of it.   Some Of The Best Business Ideas begin not with a passion for money, but a passion for something other than money.

There are certain inalienable truths which you should know as you begin the exciting journey of starting a small business.

  1. You’re going to need more money that you thought to launch this business.
  2. You’re going to need more money than you can beg, steal or borrow to launch this business.*
  3. You’re going to have to work harder than you ever have in your life to launch this business.
  4. You’re going to have to turn a deaf ear to the people who think you’re crazy for pursuing this business.

* There is an exception to the “you’ll never have enough money” truth.  You may gain access to venture capital, in which case you’ll have too much money – which surprisingly can be WORSE than not having enough.  Read Monitor110: A Post Mortem, which digs deep into the reasons (hindsight is always 20:20) why Monitor 110 didn’t rise to the ranks of legendary success – one reason was the access to too much money!

By the way, I’m not saying that you WILL NOT make money with your small business, I’m just saying if that is your primary motivation, you probably won’t make it.

So if money isn’t a good reason to start new business, what is?

In a nutshell – it’s an idea.  An idea that keeps you up at night.  An idea that permeates your every waking moment. An idea that has hold of your brain and won’t let go.

Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless” – Mary Kay Ash

If  you want to start a small business in order to improve the balance of your checking account – for heavens sake, go get a JOB and don’t even think about starting a small business!

What’s your passion?  What’s keeping you up at night?

Once you’ve found your passion – then begins the process of bringing your business to life.