Alphabet of Web Business

Posted by admin | | Sunday 6 November 2011 1:47 pm

Alphabet of Web Business:

When you are up to your elbows in running a business, it can often be easy to overlook some of the strategies or ideas we should be considering every once in a while.

With that in mind, here is the complete Alphabet of Web Business…..

A is for Accessibility
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d already be aware of the need to make all your websites as accessible as possible. It means that not only can sight impaired website visitors enjoy a better experience, it works to your advantage with search engines and other devices. James Edwards has written some great thoughts about accessibility in The Art of Accessibility and The Angst of Accessibility on the SitePoint blogs.

B is for Business Cards
You meet someone at an event, and swap business cards. A week later, that new contact looks at your card. What does it say about you? Sure, it has your contact details and name, but does it portray the right message? Take a critical look at your business cards – is it time to give them an update? See John P’s great blog post, titled The Massive Business Card Gallery to see over 250 examples of great business card designs.

C is for Communication
For nearly every business, and certainly every customer, communication is vitally important. You may craft the perfect solution for a client, however if you’re poor at communication, the whole project will seem tainted in your client’s eyes. You should do your best to focus on ensuring all communication, written, verbal or visual, is professional and meets your brand personality.

D is for Debtors
If you’ve been reading the Tribune for a few years, there’s pretty well no chance you haven’t heard me mention keeping an eye on your debtors. In any case, it’s worth mentioning again – chase debtors quickly and get paid as soon as you can! Research has shown that every day a debt goes unpaid; the likelihood of recovering that debt becomes harder. Good luck and keep those credit terms to a minimum.

E is for Ethics
How you approach business is as much about ethics as it is about profits. To be really successful, you should be extremely happy, profitable and also true to your word. That’s right; being upstanding ethically means a lot to yourself, your employees and your clients.
The next time you are considering turning a blind eye to something ethically challenging in your business – don’t, it’s not worth the lack of sleep and the feeling of disenchantment it could produce.

F is for Finance
One of the biggest reasons that small businesses have such a high rate of failure in their first five years is lack of access to money. Financing growth can be really rewarding and risky in equal measure.
There are many options for you to access money for growth without relying on cash flow only. There are loans, equipment leasing and invoice factoring to name just a few. Make sure you’ve done your research and that you can easily make the repayments, good luck!

G is for Greatness
Who wants to ever be average at their job, or wants their business to be known as just OK? Aim for greatness every day; great service, great work, great team and a great environment.

Sure, we all have those not-so-great days, however without an aim, you’ll just meander along. What have you done recently to work on being great?

H is for Health
Without your health, what chance to do have of being a success? Too many people I know work night and day, and most weekends, and struggle to be happy or healthy. That certainly makes them less productive and more than likely not at their peak than someone who doesn’t smoke, eats well and gets plenty fo exercise.

Do something for yourself by getting healthier. Try the stairs instead of elevator, walking instead of driving and eating a salad for lunch, instead of takeaway food. Your body will love you for it!

I is for International
If you’re marketing yourself beyond your own country, be aware of the differences in language, time-zones, seasons and other internationalism.

For example, in Australia we’re heading into winter, yet I am always receiving emails with ‘summer deals’ available now. Then there’s the emails I get at midnight with ‘lunch offers’ valid that day, and of course, the complexities of local customs and events mean that I’m often left wondering what this particular event they are celebrating actually is.

J is for Junk
Whenever you send an email, regardless if it is unique, or part of a large marketing merge, there’s a chance your email will be delegated to the junk pile.

How do you avoid this occurring? Ensure your recipients have given you consent to email them, avoid link-riddled emails with little other content, avoid the all-common names of medicines, and ending words with too many exclamation marks and more.

This may not completely rid you of having your emails sent to Junk, but they sure would help.

K is for Killers
When I say killers, I’m talking productivity blocks, not killing your clients! Look at how you spend your time – what time killers do you suffer from? Reduce your wasted time, by continually reviewing what works and doesn’t work for you.

L is for Learning
There’s something we can all be sure of; there’s always more knowledge out there, and more learning to be had. Set aside time every week to explore something new about your role or business – even a pursuit you’ve always wanted to try. It keeps you engaged, and importantly, your skills are constantly improving.

M is for Marketing
We can always improve how we market ourselves – make time to regularly review and improve your marketing, it (hopefully) encourages new sales, and helps keep your business evolving.
Look to try something different with your marketing in the next few months – and regularly review and revise it. It’s important to track where your sales come from.

N is for Need
Here’s some homework for you. Ask a favourite client or two what they need in their digital marketing or websites. What service or product do you currently not offer, that your existing clients really want? Consider adding these to your folio, and help service your clients needs.

O is for Organization

We can all learn more about organizing our workdays. Have you found what makes you super-productive? There is always room for improvement for most of us, so don’t feel afraid with trying out new methods to structure your day.

The best organization method for you is one that you feel works with your lifestyle. Some people swear by software applications, others say the old paper ‘to do’ list works best. Never stop the process of looking for refinement – as long as you leave time to be productive too!

O is for Opportunity
Many of us speak about innovation or ‘different thinking’, however much of the great inventions of the last decade have been the result of finding opportunities. To be successful, many businesses create a product or a service not being offered, or being offered badly.

Look for opportunities every day – often hear clients grumbling they wished they had an easy way to send marketing emails, or manage web content, or; you get the idea. Create a product to help them. Finding opportunities and then presenting an offering is a great way to build business.

P is for Profit
Spend your time focusing on your turnover? Unless you have a fixed profit percentage on turnover, you’re looking at the wrong figure. Start watching your profit, not your turnover. Turnover doesn’t allow you to pay your employees (or yourself!) better, buy new equipment and spend more on marketing.

Let’s look at it this way; a business making 20% profit on $200,000 is making more actual money than a million dollar business only making 3% profit – and there’s a very good chance they have less clients, transactions, overheads and ultimately, problems as well!

P is for People

No matter how great your management style, it’s the people you have working for you that makes the biggest difference. Look to hire people who not only share your vision, but also will fit in with your organizational philosophy and know more than you do in whatever role they are in.

Fantastic managers are those who not only encourage their employees to do their best, it’s the ones who are leaders and lead people towards a shared goal.

Q is for Quoting

An important part of the sales process is preparing a document to say what you’ll be doing, what the result will be, and how much it will cost. Typically called a Quote or Proposal, this document shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The quote you send says a lot about you; how you’ve interpreted the brief, and what process you will undertake. Ideally, a quote should also clarify any questions, and leave nothing vague. This helps protect both parties from misunderstandings.

If you’re not already, start including what is not covered, as well as any impacts of scope creep or changes. This helps protect you from working for free, and ensures the client is clear from the outset what is involved.

Take time to spell check and be as professional as possible; it really does reflect in how you’ll be perceived.

R is for Rates

When was the last time you reviewed your rates? I’ve been guilty before of not considering what I should be charging for a massive three years before. When I did review. I realized I was just about losing money, given how costs had improved over time.

Make sure you reassess your rates at least every year – take a look at what others are charging, and any costs you have, and consider upping your rates, even if it is a few percent.

S is for Systems

I’m not talking operating systems when I say system. I’m talking workflow and processes. How often do you take a look at your existing workflow and try to find new ways to improve your processes?

I’m taking it for granted you have these systems all documented – you would be crazy if you didn’t. So, do you and your team just keep repeating the same tasks over and over without a fresh look? I found one of the best ways for me to look at workflow improvements was to ask each team member to identify the one process they would really like to change. You ask ten employees, and you start to see patterns emerging.

Take it upon yourself to listen and act – you’ll be pleased at the improvements, and your team will appreciate the opportunity.

T is for Time

No matter what we do, we still only have 24 hours in each day. Nature takes care of that, and although we try to always push the envelope, time really is very finite.

Now that we know this, how should we spend it? We all spend much of our lives on low value or low return activities – why do we keep doing this? Take a moment to consider what is actually important for you and for the business, and take a fresh look at how you spend your week – I’m sure a few small changes will give you big returns.

U is for Upselling

We’ve all been through that worldwide burger chain, where they ask if you would like fries or drinks with that. For them, the 15% of customers quoted who take them up on the offer equals millions in revenue each day.

Now, I’m not suggesting selling steak knives with a website, however if you can fulfill your customers’ needs with an add-on, offer it! The worst that can happen is they don’t take you up on it. Be sincere, don’t sell a related product or service for the sake of it – ensure your client can benefit from it first.

V is for Value

Something I learnt early on in business is that you should talk value not price. See, I know really cheap products that will only last three months, and I know products asking four times the price that will last five years – which of those has the greater value?

Work on educating your clients: value and price don’t have the same meaning. Talk less about costs and more about your benefits: using value to sell is far more effective than beating your competitors on price.

W is for Wages

When was the last time you had a salary or wage review? If you’re solo, then it’s quite likely to have been quite some time. In my last installment of the Alphabet, I wrote about Rates and why it’s important to review what you charge regularly.

The same applies for what you actually pay yourself. If you are still paying the same wages you were a few years ago, then you’ll be behind the average wage by now. Sure, sacrifice is sometimes in order, but if the business has the ability to pay you more, then I encourage you to give yourself a raise. If you work for someone else, and they haven’t discussed a salary review with you in the last year – there’s no better time to broach the subject than right now!

X is for X-Ray

Imagine having X-ray vision – you could see right into the bank vault, the server when it is having a problem or see what the neighbors are up to! Well, while personal X-ray vision may still be in the realms of science fiction, taking the concept and applying it to your business dealings isn’t.

The next time someone asks for you to redevelop their website, use your x-ray vision. Ask the right questions, and delve deeper into the reasons why they’re asking for a redevelopment – using this strategy means you have a better idea of the real drivers behind their enquiry, and ensures you’ll be offering a better result than your competitors.

Y is for You

When I started my business, I did it for me. I didn’t do it for my employees (I had none at the time), I didn’t do it for the clients or the suppliers I now deal with. The whole reason I started in business was for my own personal motivations.

That’s the most common reason any business founder starts their business. However, how many of us actually achieve what we originally wanted out of our businesses?

Cast your mind back to when you started – was it flexible time, was it the power of autonomy or the lack of accountability to another manager?

How have you fared? Have you embraced what you’ve set out for? Have your goals changed?

Take time starting right now, and change your business life to start embracing he very reason you went into business – I guarantee you’ll be pleased you did!

Z is for Zany

I see a lot of web business websites. It’s something I often research. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

You know something?

I’m continually amazed at how boring most of them are.

A large percentage of web company websites I see show the usual flowcharts, the lists of features and contact details. Some of them have fantastic portfolios and really interesting services or product offerings.

Miles Burke
Editor, SitePoint Tribune

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