Your Website Reflects Your Business

Imagine walking into a store to buy a pair of shoes. You don’t know what brand of shoes you want, but you have a good idea of what color. As you enter the store, you notice the isles are clogged with shoes outside of their box, laying around, being neglected. Some left shoes are in isle 5, while the right shoes are in isle 3. Shoe hills are in random places. You can barely walk through the store without stumbling over a shoe. No employees are in sight. As you are desperate for help, you finally make it past the heaping hill of shoes to the back of the store and find a button that says �•Page for Help”. You press the button and out comes a card that says �•please leave your mailing address, we’ll send you a letter”. Frustrated, you leave the store, and finally realize there is a Footlocker across the street. We all know how first impressions can make or break a potential customer’s decision to buy. With more and more people discovering the internet, most businesses do not realize that their company website is the customer’s first impression. A Reflection of How You Do Business Your website should be a reflection of your business. Would you allow your customers to walk through a maze to get your contact information? Do you want to answer your customer’s questions or leave them guessing? Do you want them to find your product information? Your website will reflect these answers back to your customer. What Web Design Isn’t Web Design is not: •All the Bells and Whistles •A Tease •A Get Rich Quick Scheme All The Bells and Whistles Would you buy a luxury car that got you ten miles and then died? Then why would you want your website to be the best but unfunctional? Sometimes we forget that having the best of the best of something means to sacrifice something else. For instance, have you ever seen a website made entirely in Macromedia Flash? ( Click here for more info about flash ) There is nothing wrong with a nicely animated website, however, this will shut out potential customers who do not have, nor wish to install the flash player plug-in. This restricts certain users who have certain plugins installed on their computers, and you don’t want to ever shut out potential customers. If you wish to do that, make sure you have a good purpose and make sure you clearly state on your website what those requirements are. A Tease It’s better to have too much information than too little. Don’t expect a potential customer to want to wade through pages to contact you for more information. If you sell pink shoe laces and neglect to put that information on your website, your potential customer may end up going somewhere else to look for pink show laces. It’s too easy to just ‘go somewhere else’, or ‘do another search engine query’. A Get Rich Quick Scheme Why Nancy, only fools rush in. A common misconception I have seen is that business owners believe their website will attract millions of visitors within the first week of creating their website. Without the funds, research and dedicated time, this is simply not true. The instant you upload your website, it is lost in the millions and billions of virtual pages across the internet. You have to market your website just like you market your business; tell people. You will not get the keyword you want from search engines, you will not receive millions of visitors, and you will not sell all your products within the first week. However, if you take the time to do your research, study internet marketing, spread your website via word of mouth, and design careful search engine placement; you CAN get the keyword you want, you CAN receive millions of visitors and you CAN sell all your products. What Web Design Is Web Design is: •A Sales Tool •A Cost Efficient Expansion of Your Business •A Community Service A Sales Tool You can think of your website as a brochure. We have an attractive image on the front that says �•open me, you know you want to”. Inside we have product information, company information, contact information, and reasons why the potential customer should choose you. With happy thoughts, the potential customer now turns into the buying customer because your website reflected the everlasting impression of what your business is. A Cost Efficient Expansion of Your Business Imagine being able to keep your store open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Imagine being able to sell products and services in your sleep. Imagine being able to sell to anyone, anywhere, to whatever region you want. Sounds nice doesn’t it? This is what your website should be providing for you. Hiring a web designer, paying monthly web hosting space, and purchasing a yearly domain name costs a fraction of what it does if you were to open several locations around the world. This tell the customer �•We provide options for you.”. Imagine how grateful someone in a wheelchair would be if they didn’t have to have someone drive them to your business to shop around, or what if they were bedridden and couldn’t leave their homes at all? A Community Service What better way to say �•I love you” than to bring people together. This is another way you can use your website to reflect your business. A community focused business website brings your customers together who have similar interest and who feel warm and fuzzy inside for finding a group of people just like them. For instance, ecademy.com is a perfect example of a community focused website. It’s exciting to wake up, check your email and get a personal message from a fellow networker. You can start more focused interest clubs, you can write articles. You feel apart of something. What A Web Developer Isn’t •A Miracle Worker •A One Service Provider •A Lazy Bum

A Miracle Worker Beware of web designers who make promises they cannot keep. A web developer’s failure to live up to his/her promises will more than likely hurt your website, which in return can hurt your business image. Let’s take a search engine such as Google.com as an example. Google.com plays by their own rules that web developers cannot control, only abide by. A web developers promise to get you in #1 spot for the keyword �•shoe” is almost impossible. There are some people who will result to measures that are against Google.com policy, to make you think you’ve reached that #1 spot. Keyword spamming, url spoofing, keyword hiding, to name a few. Resulting to these measures will make your site look unprofessional and get you banned from Google.com. A One Service Provider You shouldn’t have to shop in ten different locations to create your website. This will lead to ten different levels of quality. For example, if you have to hire a graphic designer for the graphical layout, then a programmer for the shopping cart, and a writer for the content; if each professional isn’t on the same thinking page about your company, it will be evident. A Lazy Bum A good Web Design Professional isn’t willing to cut corners if it means sacrificing the quality of your online presence. This includes, but not limited to: search engine preparing, content management and research, information placement, programming and more. If your web developer slacks on any of these issues, your website will show it. What A Web Developer Is •A Solutions Provider •A Consultant •A Fast Learner A Solutions Provider You deserve a web developer in tune to your business needs and who understands how your website effects the image you are trying to create. The Developer should be able to provide many, if not all the resources available to complete your website from start to finish, or know the correct people who can. A Consultant You should feel confident asking your web developer questions and confident that you’ll receive answers. A Fast Learner More than likely, your web developer will be alien to your industry of business. He/She should know how to research information related to your business and how to implement it into your website. The Science of Information Placement And last, but certainly not least is the science of information placement. This is simply knowing what information you want your customers to see and in what order. For example, the first place a user focuses on the majority of the time when they first visit a website, is whatever is in the middle of the screen. This will be where you want to put your most important information, or sales niche. This isn’t where you want to put your lengthy sales agreements and contract information. Conclusion The first impression you want to give your potential customer is that you are qualified to deliver what they need and how they need it, better than your competition. The more time they spend on your website trying to come up with those reasons, the more that potential customer is slipping away. We want to close that sale as soon as possible. Your website reflects your business in the way it is ran, the products it provides, and how it treats its customers. Make sure that first impression is the correct one!

Research Before You Build Your Cleaning Business

You should have some idea now on what type of cleaning business you want to start or expand into. Look into the different types of cleaning and determine what would be the best for you.

Do you want to work days? Then janitorial and office cleaning may not be a good option as most of their customers are cleaned nights and weekends.

A better choice would be residential cleaning, window cleaning, computer cleaning, carpet cleaning and even dryer clean-outs.

Before you can start or expand, you need to know who your competition is. In your free time, go thru the Yellow Pages and local periodicals in your area and identify these companies. What can you find out about each of them? Call them and ask questions that a new customer would ask. Inquire about their service and what they charge.

Keep in mind, no two cleaning companies are alike. While you’re doing your research, write down your impressions of each; keep good detailed notes.

When you have completed this, do a review and write down your comments on each business; what thoughts come to mind? Do you like their setup; do you get a good feeling about them; what is that feeling about? What were the negatives about them? What could any of them do better?

The next step is to identify the interests you discovered from your research and what you could offer that would make your business unique.

By doing your research and identifying your niche, you’ll be on your way to a successful business that will stand out from your competition.

What You Need to Know About Business Intelligence

Every business wants to be successful. That success always comes from growth. With most businesses, growth comes from customer retention and gaining new customers. �•Business Intelligence” can help a company gain new customers and retain old customers. Business intelligence can be abbreviated BI. A formal definition of business intelligence is that it is a process of collecting information in the area of business. In BI, data collected is enhanced into information and then into knowledge. Business Intelligence can give any business an accurate idea of its customers’ needs. Businesses that have large amounts of information about their customers can act upon that information. Businesses utilizing BI gain knowledge and understanding of a customer’s needs, customer’s decision-making process, and economic, cultural, and technological trends. When using businesses intelligence, businesses select either short term or long goals. BI helps a company reach those goals.

Business Intelligence History

The idea of business intelligence goes back to Sun Tzu’s �•Art of War.” Tzu believed that in order to win a war, you must have complete knowledge of your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your the enemy. This is the central idea in present-day business intelligence. Companies must know themselves better than their competitors, and they must know their competitors better. War and business are a lot alike considering that with BI, one must sift through heaps of data (both external and internal) for management to then make strategies for where to take the business and marketing. Warfare involves strategic plans as well. BI is the process of gaining information about every element of your market. Simply understanding the customer is not enough; a business must understand its competitors, and itself.

KPI, Key Performance Indicators

The present state of business is assed by the use of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in business intelligence. As more companies implement KPI, data is becoming available to business faster and more efficiently. Data used to be available for business only after one or two months. This untimely availability did not help business adjust their strategies. More recently, banks have tried to make data available sooner and with shorter intervals. Banks do this especially for businesses that have higher credit/operational risk loading. This allows many companies to get new data weekly, and adjust their strategies faster than ever before, leading to increased customer satisfaction and retention.

BI Tools

When using business intelligence, a company has to collect a vast amount of information. BI tools can help businesses store, organize, and even collect business data. Some data tools are data warehouses, data modeling, and data mining. Using data tools helps to improve the efficiency of business intelligence. While data tools are used for organization, Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) is used in the analyzing process. OLAP is commonly referred to as simple Analytics, which is based on the hypercube or �•cube” dimensional analysis.

There are also vendors who help business with business intelligence. A vendor provides a company with the business intelligence tools and support needed for the successful implementation of a business process. Siebel Systems, Microsoft, Altius Consulting, Business-Soft, and SAS Institute are just a few of the companies offering business intelligence tools and support.

Conclusion

The better a business understands its market (everything from the customer to its competitors), the more effective that business can be. Businesses that have as complete, 360-degree understanding of what their customers need and want will be better able to devise successful strategies and implement successful processes to make their business thrive. Business intelligence is the path that businesses can take to achieve their goals, which can be either short-term or long-term. Some may wonder about the ROI of business intelligence. No doubt, if a company ends up gaining many customers, and retaining current customers as a result of business intelligence, then it will be a positive ROI. Business intelligence, if implemented correctly, and efficiently, can only help a company.

Help for the Home Based Business

Wouldn’t it be great to get some good, affordable, reliable help, even though you work out of your home? But finding workers and figuring out where to meet or when to bring them into your home office can pose some difficult juggling, personal and security issues.

A popular solution is outsourcing. When you outsource, you can hire experienced people and let them use their creative talents while you focus on other tasks. Another benefit is that the workers you hire may be more up to date on the latest information and technology in their specific fields and can be assets to your clients, as well, offering improved quality service.

OUTSOURCE

Here are the basics to outsourcing:

Focus:

Focus on outsourcing some of the major tasks of your workload. First, sit down for a breather and look around your ‘To Do’ lists and office area. What CAN you outsource? Which work seems to pile up the most?

For example, maybe you can’t seem to find time to update your website each month. Maybe your newsletter is STILL not getting out regularly. Or perhaps your direct mail campaign is not quite as direct as it should be; i.e. it is sitting directly in the same pile it was three months ago.

Then write out one-page project description for these major tasks. Focus on WHAT exactly you’d want done, WHEN and HOW the end product should turned in to you.

Take Action:

Then look for service providers. For example, with the sample tasks above, find people who can help with Internet websites, newsletter creation and sending out direct mail campaigns. Call round and surf the Internet and ask other home based business operators which companies they recommend. Check forum posts; inquire for advice and suggestions. Shop around for comparisons.

Then set up trial periods and test a couple. Remember, no one is perfect. See who you can communicate with pretty easily and who’s flexible to work as a team player. Check out the quality (and quantity) of their work. Then choose a candidate. Remember, this decision is not carved in stone. And you can always hire the other person as a back up or second helper down the road. So be kind to all who test, make decisions and keep your business moving forward.

ROI:

Make the most out of your investment and get a great return by investing in your time wisely, too. Outsourcing will hopefully free up more time for you to focus on the work you like and allow more time for marketing and advertising, to increase sales and projects. Don’t forget to brush up on your skills and keep up with the industry now, too. Read the latest ezines in your field and take a brush up course or workshop to improve your skills.

Network and seek out joint venture opportunities.

Outsourcing is a great way to help small businesses grow larger while still remaining at home. So reach out and give it a try!