Website Design Tips – A Small Business Road-Map to More Online Leads

Designing a website when you’re a small business is different than what a Fortune 500 company would do. While large companies may have the nationwide brand recognition and many people linking to their site, you probably do not. This poses a challenge in ensuring that visitors to your site are well informed, they are directed to what they need to see on your site, they can easily subscribe to your site, and they leave with the impression of a very professional company As a small business owner myself and a website designer, I’ve compiled the following critical tips on designing your website.

Overall Design

– Clean
– Uncluttered
– Light-weight

The overall design of your site should be clean, uncluttered, and light-weight. By clean I mean that it should be a more simple design as opposed to lots of shapes, contrasting colors, and unreadable fonts. You can still have a very unique design but your customers will thank you for keeping it clean. This also leads into keeping it uncluttered. Have only the essential links, pictures, and widgets on your web page. The days of providing a real service by having the local weather or a dancing baby on your home page are over. Keeping your page uncluttered will let visitors focus on what is really important. If you have too much for one page, split it into two pages and use a call to action in the original page to direct the visitor. You also must keep your design light-weight as in smaller pictures, no crazy flash/animation, and use of background colors as opposed to images. This will ensure your web page loads quickly on a visitors browser and will make it much more accessible.

Content – Content Formatting

– Quality, Original Content
– Direct and to the point
– Small paragraphs for easy reading
– Easy reading font
– Font to background color contrast

Content is critical for a small business. Your web design must account for showcasing your content and providing good content for search engines like Google. This will definitely help with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ensure that your content is original quality content that doesn’t have too much fluff and gets to the point. I have been to websites before where after a couple of minutes of reading, I still don’t know what they do. Be direct and your visitors will thank you!

For formatting your content, you need to ensure that you have at least a 12 point font, which isn’t a crazy unreadable font. Stick with the basic fonts for your main content. Color is important so make sure that the contrast between your text and the background doesn’t make it unreadable. You don’t want too similar of colors so it’s hard to read and you don’t want a contrast that hurts your eyes to read (i.e. neon green on a black background).

Call to Action

– Include on every page
– Ask for what you want
– Explain the benefits

If someone is coming to your website, make sure they do what you want them to do. Many small business websites forget about asking the customer to buy a product, sign up for their list or whatever else you want them to do on your site. Be specific and include a call to action on all of your pages. If I want you to sign up for my newsletter so I can provide you with information and market my products to you, I need to sell you the benefits of being on my list. My call to action might be “Sign-up Today!” after explaining the benefits. If you don’t ask them or get them to take action, many times they won’t.

Capture Leads

– Capture an email address
– Entice with free products
– Low barrier to entry

If someone is visiting your website, you need to capture their information. They are obviously on your website for a reason and you need to give them the opportunity to learn more by capturing their information. Good website design for your small business should account for how you will capture their lead information. I like to make it a low barrier for entry for my visitors. You sign-up for my newsletter by providing me with just your email address in the side bar or the hover page that I display after you’ve been on my site for 7 seconds. I sell the benefits of getting free information and I make it easy. I will also offer a free product like a free report but I make the barrier to entry a little higher. If you want my free report, in addition to your email address you will also have to provide me with your name and phone number. Guess what makes great leads to call on?

There are many aspects to great website design for small businesses and I’ve really only scratched the surface. I suggest doing a lot of research on the subject so you can end up with an online presence that sets you apart from other businesses in your industry. There are many professionals that do a great job with the design and professionals that do a great job with the optimization and lead capture. Not many do both so make sure you do your homework.

Tips on Buying a Small Business

When buying a small business, one must be keen on several areas. Knowing and having as much information before hand can be crucial. Here are a few things one should be considerate of before buying a business.

Type of Business-

What is the type of small business are you going purchase? Do you have an interest or a passion in the business you are going to purchase? Are you going to buy a business just to purchase one? Does the type of industry matter? These are some important questions you might want to consider before purchasing a small business.

Operations-

Are you ready to run your business, whether it is small or large? Can you run an enterprise with or with out employees? Who will run your investment when you are on vacation? Many businesses and establishments will function just fine with a good staff of employees and in most cases, if you or your employees need time off, your company will continue to run smoothly.

Marketing-

A good question to always ask a seller of a business is, “What type of marketing do you currently participate in?” Many smaller companies might not need marketing and work well with word of mouth. Other small establishments might already have an implemented marketing strategy. Having a marketing strategy in place will save you hours of time and investment.

Investment Cost-

A buyer of a small business must know the cash flow of the business before buying the company. A well informed buyer is a well prepared buyer.

Growth-

Before buying an established business, it is a good idea to strategize about potential growth. Many small owners have ample opportunity to grow and companies are very able to grown easily. Brainstorming with your partners, investors and employees are the best ways to strategize business growth.

Buying a small business is not difficult and can be very rewarding. Always ask questions and do your research. In most cases, the business broker will be able to answer most of your questions.

10 Budgeting Tips for Business People and Small Companies

It is possible for small companies and individual business people to cut costs without sacrificing quality. Keep these 10 budgeting tips in mind when purchasing goods and services.

1.) Buy in bulk, but compare prices.

Sam’s Club and Costco cater to small businesses and have good deals on bulk-packaged items. Know the sale prices at discount retailers and grocers, though. Sometimes you can do better there.

2.) Travel Frugally.

With some flexibility you could save up to 75% or more when traveling. 50% is common. Search for air fair and hotels on discount sites such as Expedia.com, Travelocity.com, Hotels.com, and Priceline.com. At Priceline you can submit your own price. Don’t be intimidated if you get a message saying your bid is likely to be rejected because it is too low. Give it a shot anyway. Lowball bids are often accepted ($35 for a $139 room, for example).

3.) Look for closeouts / clearances.

Shop big retailer’s regional warehouse or clearance store, where they ship rejected or overstocked merchandise. The items are primary large-ticket, such as furniture and appliances, that have been damaged in shipping. Keep your break room/kitchen configuration in mind when shopping. Look for items dinged and dented on sides that will be against the wall or hidden by cabinets.

4.) Buy used vehicles.

As soon as a new car leaves the lot, it drops in value. Look for dealers that need to move inventory, individuals with cars coming off lease, and other unusual situations. If there is high demand for the vehicle you are looking for, try shopping outside of your immediate area, where demand may be lower.

5.) Purchase business wear from consignment and non-profit stores.

Shop at the better consignment stores that carry only new looking, brand name items. Also, try non-profit stores, such as Goodwill, for business casual attire. You not only get a good deal, you support charity as well.

6.) Shop around for the best price.

Combine Internet and “real world” shopping to save money. Before purchasing an item, research current sales and rebates in three ways: 1) Research local sales at ShoppingList.com, 2) Compare online prices at MySimon.com, and 3) Search individual Web sites such as Sam’s Club, Costco, and Wal-Mart. If you are purchasing items to resell, don’t forget to use your tax ID.

7.) Recycle and refill.

Come up with creative ways to save on office supplies.
Purchase ink refill kits. You can refill an ink cartridge for a fraction of the cost to buy new. Look for refill kits at your local office supply store or search for “Ink refill kits” in an online search engine.
Use both sides of the paper. Instead of throwing away paper, print drafts on both sides.
When printing out drafts to proofread, chose “draft quality” printing. It not only saves ink, but prints faster as well.

8.) Buy refurbished or previously used furniture and fixtures.

You can often get used and/or refurbished items at a price less than new. Search local online portals and business directories for companies that refurbish and sell business furniture. Also, if you know you are going to need replacements, keep an eye out for liquidations, auctions, and going out of business sales. Fixtures are often sold along with other inventory.

9.) Barter.

Look for bartering networks, where members help each other by trading goods or services. You can also approach businesses and freelancers on your own with a win-win proposition.

10.) Save on marketing costs.

Rather than outsource all your marketing to an agency, learn to complete some tasks in-house. Join marketing newsletters, purchase how-to guides, and read articles written especially for small businesses.

2 Quick Small Business Advertising Tips

If you’ve ever wanted to know some quick tips for making your small business advertising more effective, here’s a quick article to help you with just that.

First, always ensure your advertising is “targeted”. What I mean by that is that you should always have a particular type of person in mind that you want to respond to your advertising. Let’s say you’re a landscaper and you want to try to get into some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in your area.

An easy thing you can do with your ads is to write a headline specifically for THOSE residents. For example:
“For Residence of Southwestern Estates – Here’s How You Can Get FREE Lawn Care for Six Months WITHOUT Excessive Maintenance Fees…”

When people in that particular neighborhood see your ad, it’ll catch their attention and make them want to read because it’s specifically FOR THEM. You can use this same tactic when targeting businesses, organizations, clubs, etc. Use your imagination and think through how you can use this strategy to your advantage.

The next thing you can do is ALWAYS MAKE AN OFFER.

This is KEY.

Any advertising, specifically for small business owners should be designed to get people to respond. If you’re not getting people to respond to you ad, you’re not getting any business.

So what you want to do is ensure you’re making someone an offer to try to get them to respond. The key is to make it so ‘irresistible’, and so compelling – they simply can’t resist.

Here’s an example:

“Attention Las Vegas Tourists – If You’d Like To Know How To Get A $1,500 Penthouse Suite Room For Only $299 Per Night, Respond To This Ad By December 31, 2010 To Take Advantage Of This Special Offer…”

In this example, notice how the headline is specific to a targeted group of people. But what’s more important is the OFFER.

The offer is incredibly good! you can get a $1,500 Penthouse suite for only $299. Think about this for a second…

How many tourists in Las Vegas do you think would take advantage of this offer? How many people who love to party until the wee hours of the morning would be interested in this?

If your guess is like mine, the answer is LOTS.

So think about that when you put together your small business advertising. Think about who you’d like to work with, then give them an irresistible offer to think about.

Chances are – you’ll be much busier in the future and much more profitable.