Posts on October 2016

Do This (Not That!)

Having an impressive looking website doesn’t always mean a lot in today’s world of technology. Sure, on the outside, these websites may look trendy and cool, but click around enough and you’ll find that many have terrible functionality and could be compared to wandering through a maze. Why should you settle on having a half usable website when, after following a few do’s and don’ts, you could have a truly great site?

There’s no place like Home(page)

Do This Make your homepage easy to navigate

No one likes to be confused upon arrival. Not at the airport, not at a grocery store. So why would you make your website’s homepage confusing? It is the first thing customers see when they visit your site, and it needs to be concise and clear. Make sure visitors are certain what you want them to do – whether that’s to purchase an item, view a gallery, or enter an email address.

Not That Clutter things up

This is one thing many new web sites fall prey to. It’s easy to want to jam pack your homepage with all possible information about your business. However, too much content can run potential clients off. Treat every visitor as if they have the attention span of a goldfish – if they can’t figure out what to do in two seconds, you probably need to reconsider the structure of your homepage.

Don’t hate, navigate!

Do This Make it easy for visitors to find your navigation

Going along with the above do and don’t, making your navigation readily available and obvious is another important aspect to your website. You don’t want to make people spend their valuable time searching for navigation. Spend as much time creating your navigation page and visitors will having an easier time traversing your site.

Not That Cram too many links

One thing that can serve to be overwhelming to visitors is too many links under your navigation page. Not only does is clutter up your page, it also can confuse and bemuse people. If you must include lots of links, be sure to break them up under categories, so it feels a little less intimidating.

Knowledge is Power

Do This Give people a chance to leave their information

An impressive looking website, combined with easy navigation tends to instill trust in visitors. This is where you can grab their attention and ask them to leave a record of them visiting. This can be as simple as leaving their email or signing up for a deal. Whatever the case, this information will help fuel your business. Make sure the submission form is easy to find and even easier to fill out or people will just skip it.

Not That Make visitors uncomfortable

No one likes to be visiting a website and then be bombarded by pop-up windows every ten seconds, begging for your information. Not only is this annoying, it’s also intimidating. Be sure to ask for basic information, and take care that visitors don’t feel like they have to leave their age, sex, or location in order to be kept up to date with your website. Also be sure to give people a way out – letting them know how to unsubscribe to notifications.

When in doubt, hire an expert

Do This Be willing to hire someone who knows what they’re doing

There is nothing more valuable to you and your website than a web site designer who knows his business. These people will work closely with you to make your website come to life. Yes, designers cost money. But in the long run, your website will run smoother and look nicer for it. Working with a designer will also help keep your project on track.

Not That Cut corners

We all appreciate trying to save a few bucks. However, your website is not the place for penny pinching. In today’s tech world there are people who are good designers and people who don’t have a clue. And we all know who the less expensive hire would be. A professional website should be worked on by a professional. Period.

Phone Home

Do This Guarantee your website looks good on mobile devices

In today’s tech world, the mobile device is king. From iPhones to iPads, to Kindles and smart watches, everyone has them, and these devices are generally what your website will be viewed from. To ignore this trend towards mobile design (also called responsive design) would be nothing short of disastrous. Make sure whatever designer you go with is both familiar and competent with responsive design, and can show you examples of sites they’ve done. If your site looks like trash on mobile, then why bother even having a site at all?

Not That Rush into things

We all know how it feels to be excited about a project coming to completion. You have waited for it, and you’re willing to skip steps in order for it to be ready. You could be convinced to just stick with the desktop version of your site. However, at the risk of alienating many visitors, you need to commit to having a mobile version. Having this will push you and your website into the mobile age and help garner support and visitors.

Conclusion

Obviously there are many ways to successfully go about building and maintaining a website. Enumerated here are just a few suggestions. However, should you decide to follow all, or even a few of the do’s and don’ts listed here, you will notice a drastic increase in traffic to your website and potentially new business.

4 Challenges Every Entrepreneur Faces

There’s nothing easy about starting your own business. Entrepreneurship requires taking on risk at a level that would terrify most people. You might have to work longer hours than you ever did as an employee. You carry the stress that comes with being the final decision maker on every question that arises. The rewards, however, are immense. Be your own boss. Build something from the ground up. This endeavor feels unmistakably American, and it brings a sense of pride that is difficult to match punching a timecard and working to further somebody else’s goals.

Today we’ll discuss a few of the challenges that confront entrepreneurs as they make the leap into running their new business full time. We address these difficulties not to discourage people considering starting a company, but to warn them of some common hurdles so that they might overcome them with the benefit of our experience.

Initial Lack of Resources

Many first time business owners struggle with capital as they try to get off the ground. Even with investors, money is a stressor at this point in the process. Don’t let self-doubt creep in. No business can expect to be profitable on day one, and many take several years to break even. Preempt this problem by going in with a specific plan. Although surprises always change budgets, you should have a breakeven analysis in place. Know your costs and understand how much revenue you need. Otherwise, the first few months will be an emotional rollercoaster, with panic or elation taking hold every time the bank account changes. Expect bad days, expect to keep a tight grip on your spending at first, and hang in there.

Coping with an Unpredictable Income

As your company goes through its early volatility, you may take a vastly different amount of money home each month. Depending on the nature of your business, this may never change. Even if you are making plenty each year, some months may be tight. Be intentional with your personal budget. Resist the urge to overspend after a prosperous period. There are resources available for people with unpredictable incomes, like this Forbes article. Remember that this situation isn’t unique to you, or even to entrepreneurs. Consult salesmen who are paid commission or experienced business owners for advice about how to handle your personal finances so they don’t become a distraction or a stressor as you guide your company to success.

Wearing so many New Hats

Entrepreneurs quickly become their company’s, well, everything. My mother liked to refer to herself as the chief cook and bottle washer at an independent coffee shop she ran for several years. Her experience was a common one. Before you’re big enough to pay specialized employees, you handle an astonishingly diverse array of duties. You may not have an MBA, but you’ll find yourself worrying about marketing, accounting, HR, and an endless list of concerns specific to your industry. Our best advice here is to seek out free help from friends and family (without taking advantage). Buy your uncle lunch and pick his brain about how he kept customers coming back during his career as a salesman. Ask your college roommate to give you a few pointers about maximizing your company’s searchability. And when you are making enough money, hire people whose strengths align with your limitations.

Trusting Employees with “Your Baby”

When you are able to hire these first employees, you may have trouble relinquishing control. You’ve built your business from nothing, and giving up even small decisions can be scary. Still, you wouldn’t have hired these people unless you needed their help and they were qualified to help. Balance keeping the company moving in the direction you want with giving your people the latitude to do their jobs. Nothing can kill employee morale like a micromanaging boss. As in so many aspects of business and life, communication is key. Set clear expectations up front. This should cover not only quality of work but also decision making authority. Be available for questions. I once had a boss who had unreasonably specific expectations but was unreachable most of the day. Don’t let your employees feel like they can’t figure out how to please you. Equip them to be capable of what you need from them.

We commend anyone who makes the gutsy decision to start a business. The process can be daunting, but remember to seek advice and encouragement from the successful people in your life. Most of the challenges you’ll face have already been overcome by someone you know.