A Dan Good Idea – Business Essentials 101 – Part 1 : Laying The Foundation Electronically
Whether you’re self-employed or happily gainfully employed, how you promote yourself, your brand, your products and services requires an integrated approach. In today’s world, it’s not uncommon to have a little friendly competition with similar businesses, but no matter if you’re starting out from scratch or wanting to expand your existing business, there are a few basic things that you need to nail down first.
Be sure to always keep this in mind – the business world revolves around a simple philosophy, you do your best business with those you know, like and trust. Having those 3 factors takes time to build, so you have to start at the ground level and work your way up. As part of that ground level foundation, you have to think and actively plan about:
- Your electronic presence – You of course have to have a website, so how involved is it? Is it informational purposes only? Can people buy things from it? Next, look at social media and decide which ones will most benefit you? …and having said that… do you know HOW MANY social media sites there are out there? It’s mind-boggling, so you have to be choosy. And lastly, how do you use electronics for communications – newsletters, and/or email distribution?
- Your physical presence – do you wear a suit and a tie, go business casual, or prefer shorts and sandals? How about polo shirts, t-shirts, hats, jackets with either embroidery or screen printing? Do you wear a name tag or not? And if so, do you go laser engraved or sublimated? A standard size, or a special shape? Do you use your logo or not?
- Your marketing materials – do you have brochures, post cards, or flyers that you can leave behind after a meeting? What about your business card – do you just take whatever the local office supply store gives you with a basic layout, or do you put a little bit of effort into it and for less price on volume go with full colour on two sides and let your creativity fly? How about a thicker stock with a matte finish? What about a folding business card? Foil inlays? Do you need a pop-up-banner? How about something different and use an x-banner instead? The possibilities are endless.
So, in this installment of A Dan Good Idea, I’m going to go into the details about your electronic presence. Things to think about from the very beginning, because the decisions you make now, will be the go-forward choice in everything you do and how you run your business. Keep watching this blog for parts 2 (and likely 3) as a continued thread.
Laying Your Foundation – Electronically
1) Your URL – Choosing your URL and having it properly registered is as important as naming your first born, seriously! This is the hub that drives your web traffic, emails, sales and communications. Much like your business name, you want something catchy, easy to remember, and won’t require a dictionary to spell. Of course you want it to match your company’s name as close as possible, but generally speaking stick with the KISS philosophy – Keep It Simple …uh… Silly. So, if your company’s name is “Bob Doles Restorations and Renovations”, do NOT have www . bobdolesrestorationsandrenovations . com be your URL …think about it… would you want to type bob @ bobdolesrestorationsandrenovations . com every time you write an email? Go on, try it once, see if you can even type bob @ bobdolesrestorationsandrenovations . com once without stopping to think about it. Clearly you should pick something smaller in a case like this – how about www . bobsrestorations . com, or even bobsrenos . com? Something your clients will easily remember, can easily type, and something that doesn’t take up acreage on your marketing materials.
Secondly, when you register your URL, make sure your contact information is publicly displayed. As an example, checkout the “whois” information for our Artals site – Click Here to see it (it will pop a new window – so watch your pop up blockers). Notice my contact name and information is there? Now, if you have a URL already registered, do a WhoIs search on your domain and see how it compares. Just go to whois.com if you have a .com, or go to whois.ca if you have a .ca.
Speaking of “.ca”, did you know if you have a .ca domain, the Canadian Government actually gets involved with the registration process? Not that it matters, but it does create more red tape sometimes, and it can make for time delays. So, a suggestion, stick to the .com address as much as possible, even if it means tweaking/changing your original idea for a URL name, shy away from the .ca if at all possible.
2) Your Email – Please do NOT go generic with your email – firstname.lastname@example.org, or @rogers.com, or @hotmail.com. It’s not professional, it comes across to some people as being cheap, fly-by-night, or that you’re not serious about being in business. Seriously, we’re talking small money here – hundreds, not thousands, to get a URL registered and have your email associated with it. If you’re planning on being in business for longer than a year, get it right from the beginning, get a domain and get your emails registered right away. You can quite often get your emails distributed through your domain provider, or (like what we use) through Google Apps for Business – the business version of GMail.
3) Your Website – How times have changed, when websites were first coming on scene you needed to have (or know someone with) a very technical background to build the site, and you needed to be as knowledgeable as Sheldon (from Big Bang Theory) to upload the site, integrate the pages, and ensure everything worked. Not to mention, you also had to individually code for Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mosaic, or other web-browsers …AND… from there (once mobile devices started) you also had to separately code for them too – BlackBerry, Apple, Android, and more. And, to add even more complexity to this, social media comes along and blows everything up with a nuclear bomb!! There are SO many social media sites – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Stumble Upon, Google Circles, 4 Square, which do you use? Which do you know? Which works best? I think I could write a whole blog story just on social media….but not today.
When it comes to building a website, for a few hundred dollars, you can build your own site, post information and photos, even build an online storefront to sell stuff. And (here’s the best part!) you can automatically build an interface for mobile devices – cell phones, tables, whatever, no more need to code separately. You don’t need a coding background to do this, it’s quite easy actually. Most small businesses can get away with a simple platform, but don’t get me wrong… we still need traditional coders for those complex sites, those fancy graphics, and huge database collaborations.
As an example – take our Artals site, we do all of the electronic side of the business ourselves. Our online store has over 1,500 individual items in it and growing every week, and we can maintain the content on the site quite easily. Believe me, if we can do it, so can you…and we can show you how.
And in conclusion…
I just wanted to give you a few “food for thought” ideas when you’re laying the groundwork for your business. I hope you’ve found this electronics portion to be of benefit, and if you have any questions (or would like to run a few ideas past us) just ask, we’re here to help.
Oh, and did you see this from my 1st Dan Good Idea installment?? If not, you have GOT to watch this video to the end – it’s on my bucketlist! Anyone else got something crazy on their bucketlist?
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Until next time …thanks for listening!