Planning & Organizing a Web Site

When creating a web site, you can never over plan or over organize. Regardless if you are developing and creating the site yourself or you hire a professional, you will most likely be involved in planning, organizing and preparing material for the site.

Step 1 – What’s the purpose?
Decide what the purpose of your site will be. You need to first know what you plan to do. Is the site just for fun or do you have a specific goal?

If for a specific goal, right down the purpose, then break down what you think you need in order to relay this purpose. Example of company site:

  1. Information about the company
  2. Images and graphics to help explain visually about the company
  3. Contact Information
  4. “More Info” form
  5. Descriptions of services or products offered
  6. Mission statement or main focus of the company

Step 2 – List your Contents
Make a list of what you want your site to contain.

Step 3 – Create a Flow Chart
Make a flow chart showing how this information will be organized and laid out.

Step 4 – Navigation
How will the user get to the content and how can they get back. Don’t Loose the User! General Rule: primary navigation links should be on every page.

Step 5 – Design
Design the look and feel of the site. Simplicity counts!

Step 6 – Organize Content
Get your content together and organize it in folders.

Step 7 – Build your Pages
Design, layout and assemble your pages.

I suggest reading two books; Jennifer Niederst’s “Web Design in a Nutshell” and Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think.”

The Bullseye, written by Nancy Greger, from The Business Helper, provides “on-the-mark” tips to help the small business owner succeed.

Post to Twitter

Marketing Your Company

Marketing your business is an important aspect of insuring your company’s longevity. Whether  you set a side a monthly budget or have no budget, simple yet consistent marketing is necessary.  Listed below are some suggestions:

• Carry Business cards at all times (you never know when or where a client will come)

• Ask clients why they hired your company and solicit suggestions for improvement

• Develop a brochure of your services or products

• Send hand written Thank You notes

• Join a Business network such as the Chamber of Commerce, Toast Masters etc.

• Never let a day pass without doing at least one thing to promote your company

I recommend reading “EVEolution The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women,” by Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold. It’s filled with examples and insights in marketing that can be applied by any business owner. Click on the link below to preview and order.

The Bullseye, written by Nancy Greger, from The Business Helper, provides “on-the-mark” tips to help the small business owner succeed.

Post to Twitter

Stationery

Q. For our stationery we want to use raised printing like thermography. Is this processes laser compatible?

A. Although thermography is inexpensive, it is essentially a “plastic” ink that has been heated to give a raised effect. If your laser printer is hot enough, thermography will make a mess out of both stationery and printer. A better form of raised printing is Engravalith. You could also engrave your stationery, but this process is very expensive.

Ask the Expert is a column which helps provide solutions for the small business owner. Our Expert is Matthew Greger, President of The Business Helper. Please eMail your questions to Matthew Greger.

Post to Twitter

Microsoft Access

Q. We are looking to upgrade our Access database to include all departments and remote offices. However, this means Macs and PCs will now need to use the database. Can we continue to use Access?

A. The short answer is no, not directly. I recommend researching the cost to move your database to FileMaker Pro. This database integrates well with Microsoft Office and is cross platform compatible.

Ask the Expert is a column which helps provide solutions for the small business owner. Our Expert is Matthew Greger, President of The Business Helper. Please eMail your questions to Matthew Greger.

Post to Twitter

Top 10 Pitfalls

Statistics state that half of all small businesses will fail in the first 5 years, a challenge even for the well thought out plans. But most of these pitfalls, once you identify them, can be changed to work in your favor and increase your odds of staying in business.

Avoid these top 10 pitfalls if you want to stay in business:

  1. Procrastination. The saying is true "Don’t but off until tomorrow what you can do today". The piles don’t get smaller with success and if not dealt with can eat away at your business.
  2. Ignoring the competition. Today customers are going to form new alliances with companies that offer the best products and services. Monitor your competitors, see what they are doing (perhaps better than you). Devote some time to devising new methods, products or services for your company.
  3. Sloppy or ineffective Marketing. Marketing your products or services takes a well thought out and consistent plan. If done properly it will help advance your business.
  4. Ignoring customer needs. Once you have them never let them go. Do what you can (within reason) to keep the customer happy.
  5. Incompetent employees. Hire employees that are vital to your business. Make sure that they fully understand your company’s Mission and remember to treat them as you would of liked to have been treated.
  6. Lack of versatility. A true statement for the small business owner is being "the Jack of all Trades, but master of known". In any start up, you have to know (and sometimes do) the accounting, the marketing, the sales etc…
  7. Poor Location. For those of you who are not home based. When looking for an office or retail space you should consider traffic (how many potential customer pass by) and convenience, (how are your customers going to get to you)
  8. Cash Flow problems. You need to know how to track the money coming in and out of your business. But most importantly you’ll need to know how to budget your income & expenses.
  9. A closed mind. We all have some preconceptions on how we are going to make our business succeed. But even the best ideas don’t always work. That’s why it’s important for you to network with your peers, stay on top of your current industry trends by reading and using the internet for research.
  10. Inadequate planning. Set up and WRITE down your goals. Set deadlines and look at your list often, visual reinforcement is a key to success.

The Bullseye, written by Nancy Greger, from The Business Helper, provides "on-the-mark" tips to help the small business owner succeed.

Post to Twitter

File Management

Q. I have a hard time finding files and applications on my computer. How can I locate what I’m looking for?

A. Let’s take this from a different approach. A computer is no different than the filing cabinets, in boxes, desks, garbage cans, etc. that are in your office. Or for that matter, it’s no different than your son’s or daughter’s room (now we all know that can be scary).

Organization is the key. Put all your applications into the Program Files or the Applications directory, then make aliases or shortcuts of the applications and put them in the Apple Menu or in the Start Menu.

For your documents, do NOT save them in the applications folder. Create a virtual filing cabinet (a main folder) and organize your folders and files within. Either use the default “My Documents” or “Documents” folder or create a folder in the root of the hard drive, then create an alias or shortcut on your desktop for easy access. Now you are ready to create the drawers, your main subjects in subfolders. These might be titled something like Projects, Artwork, Databases, Business, etc. Finally, you can save your documents within these main subfolders or create additional subfolders.

Now, don’t forget to maintain this organization. Take the time to file, save, your documents in their correct place and finding them will be simple.

Ask the Expert is a column which helps provide solutions for the small business owner. Our Expert is Matthew Greger, President of The Business Helper. Please eMail your questions to Matthew Greger.

Post to Twitter

Database Estimate


Q. This is my first experience developing a database. When asking a consultant for an estimate, should I have to pay for this estimate?

A. Let’s break this down into two parts; 1) an estimate and 2) a spec or needs analysis.

For the estimate you should not have to pay anything. It’s just that, an estimate based on what it has taken to complete a similar project in the past. An estimate is usually based on an hourly rate and will usually be given in a range such as $10,000 to $15,000.

A spec or needs analysis, sometimes referred to as a detailed estimate, is a much more involved process and a fee is usually charged. This fee will be based on the amount of time it will take the consultant to work up the spec. This analysis is the blueprint for your project. It’s a fairly detailed plan of how you are going to proceed. And, just because you contract with a consultant to do the spec, you may not want them to complete the project. You can take the spec and do the project yourself or hire another consultant if you were not completely happy. However, the consultant who wrote up the spec probably is now intimate with your project.

Ask the Expert is a column which helps provide solutions for the small business owner. Our Expert is Matthew Greger, President of The Business Helper. Please eMail your questions to Matthew Greger.

Post to Twitter

The Broadcast Media an Excellent Way To Promote Your Business

By Betty vonLiebermann

Give up the struggle!

One of the best ways to gain valuable publicity for your business is to be a guest on local radio and television talk show programs.

Appearances on radio and television programs help to set you up as the “Expert” in your field. Many of the shows are call-in programs and quite often listeners will call-in with questions. This gives you the opportunity to make the listeners more knowledgeable about your area of expertise and you may gain a client from the call.

I asked Kathryn Stroomer to share her insight on how television appearances can help you spread the word and this is what she had to say, “I have been producing a live, call-in show in the New Haven area for the past seven years. Our program, Issues and Answers, interviews everyone from local artists and writers to non-profit organizations to lawyers and corporate executives. Most of our guests have never done live TV before and come away with a very positive experience. It’s excellent exposure and frequently callers turn into clients. We even get calls from viewers after the show asking if they can contact the guests. Although we air live, programs are often re-run or “bicycled” to different localities (e.g. Fairfield County, Lexington, MA), so one show can go a long way. People do watch local TV. It’s a great vehicle to get your ideas out there.” I firmly agree with Ms. Stroomer. One show can go a long way in creating visibility for your business.

Once when I was interviewed on ESBN Radio in Norwalk about a Business & Professional Women’s event, I received a call and gained one of my best clients. If I had not been on the show that day, I probably would not have gained that client. He was listening to the show and I was “at the right place at the right time.”

I asked Michael Eastland, the Producer/Host of ESBN radio to share some advice with you about radio appearances and this is what he had to say, ” Make it a point to research any show that you may want to contact for a guest appearance to be sure that the audience for the show is the same as the target market for your product or service. Most producers are extremely busy and have a low tolerance for people who contact them without taking the time to find out a little about their show.”

Wayne Winsley of The Wayne Winsley Program which airs in Danbury shared this advice, “Make yourself interesting to the local media. Ask yourself, why would people care if I’m here?” This is great advice. If you research the audience that will be listening and prepare properly for the appearance, people will be glad to know you are there.

Often times your appearances as a guest can lend credibility to the show and it’s host. Where most guests are excited to be featured on a TV or radio show, Carla Dietz of the Women in Business television show credits her success to her guest when she says, “Suffice it to day that the best PR I get comes from highlighting the work of other fabulous people who are good enough to give me the time of day. Time is precious and people are sooooooo busy, lately. I am grateful to have been introduced to and to have interviewed so many great people on The Women In Business Show, both on radio and on TV. With all due respect to myself, my best PR comes from being next to and befriending others who have achieved greatness in their lives.”

I have my own Public Relations Business and Michael Eastland, Wayne Winsley, Carla Dietz and Kathryn Stroomer have helped me greatly in gaining publicity for my clients. Carla even asked me to sit in as her guest host once when she was on vacation. This was a great experience for me.

In the past, I wrote an article about the importance of networking. The networking I have done over the years has certainly paid off. My advice to you as a small business owner, is to make sure you include the broadcast media in your networking activities. This will help you greatly in growing your business in 2001 and beyond.

Betty vonLiebermann has over 16 years experience in the field of Communications and is the owner/founder of BVL Public Relations.

Post to Twitter