Designers Don’t Build A Web Business Part 1

Who makes your business?
Does the builder of your office make your business work? Does the sign company make your business work? We would never suggest that any business is successful except for the efforts of the owner/entrepreneur, but when it comes to web sites we think differently.

Why would we think that a web designer will build us an online business? Just because they say they will make your site stand out in a crowd? Just because they say they will drive traffic to your web site?

Maybe.

Maybe we believe the marketing hype because we want to, and we want to because we don’t have the technical know-how to make our own web site. Well, we don’t have the building skills to construct our own office either and that never stopped us from building our business.

The lack of technical know-how is no reason to hand over control to a web designer who knows nothing about our business or the market we serve. In fact it is downright dangerous and costly to follow a web designers ideas about building a web business.

What does a web designer know?
A web designer, having graduated from a college course in web design, knows how to build a web site. They do not know how to build a business. And this is where most of us get off track. We think that once the web site is designed then we are in business.

Compare this to buying an automotive repair shop with the hydraulic lifts and compressor, the work bench and office, and we would call this a working auto repair shop – but it is not an auto repair business until WE make it so.

We accept the recommendations of web designers and web marketing people and then believe that that is all there is to running a web business. The experts sold us a working web site, not a working web business. In fact, they didn’t sell us much of anything at all.

A custom web design in the digital virtual reality is something of a laugh because nobody starts from scratch, at least not for us small business guys. And that is not going to change, but maybe we will realize when we are paying too much for recycled ideas and copied code.

You are the business
After our web design has been built the biggest part of making it a business is yet to come. After the web experts have been paid all we have is a shell, just like the auto repair shop. Everything works and functions just fine, but there’s still no business for our new web site.

Unfortunately, if we had listened to the web designers we would have filled our web pages with filler and not real content. Filler is just a bunch of talk about our products or services and what a great business we are and why everyone should buy from us.

Who really believes what a company says about itself? Why would anyone, even in the market, care about filler that is very suspect?

We have been tricked
While we have been following the logic of web designers we have missed the shear genius of our own information. We have been tricked into thinking only about ourselves instead of thinking about our market. And it is not just the web industry that tricked us this way – it is old school offline marketing & advertising that tricked us first.

Putting the focus on our market is both the heart and brains of a business web site. We must first put our knowledge and experience for solving problems into the business and then we must talk to our web market as though we know them by name. And we do know them by name when we address them as a group of like minded people.

Standing apart
If we were to put our clients first and speak to them about their problems and how we can help to solve those problems then we would be one of the first small business web sites to do so. Our web content would be very different from any of our competitors. Our keywords would be more specific to the problems we solve. We would be giving our market what they really want and our web marketing costs would drop like a stone.

If we were to ignore all the experts in the web industry and paid full attention to our market there would be a big shift in how we did business. This much is pretty obvious and it’s hard for us to deny the value of communicating directly to our market with what they want to know. But, it’s hard not to shake with a little fear about wandering away from the comfort of doing what everyone else is doing.

2 Considerations
#1) If our web designer didn’t build us a web business, then they haven’t build anyone else a web business. What this means is that by being true to our business we have no competition.

#2) The risk in financial costs of attracting our real web market is tiny and the time it takes to build this into a business is less than the time we have already spent spinning our wheels and listening to others.

To make a web business happen we need to be engaged with our market and not expect anyone else to make it happen for us. We can look for help and learn from others, but if we expect designers to build our web business for us it will just another cookie cutter web site as they do what they have been trained to do.

To take control of our web business we need to know what our web market wants and what they need from us. This is not so difficult to do. To understand any web market, and our market specifically, you can find insights in the article in this series titled “Designers Don’t Build A Web Business Part 2″

Using Facebook for Business

Over the last few years, social media has become increasingly popular in the way of advertising for a large number of businesses. Their aim is to reach a wider audience in order for them to promote products, news and annual business reports.

Social network sites are amongst the main providers when it comes to representing a business through the use of social media. Facebook is one of the leading social network sites and is used as an advertising tool for a variety of companies and small businesses alike.

Creating a Facebook page is an easy to follow procedure. Additional pages to advertise a business are optional, particularly if a business wishes to promote multiple products or services.

With the creation of a Facebook page, many new and established businesses are benefiting from reaching larger audiences as well as receiving new clients and making new business contacts.

Clients are able to leave comments through the news feed on your business page. They are also able to contact you directly through Facebook emails. This encourages communication between your business and the client, and aids in helping build relationships between yourself and potential clients or contacts.

To get the most out of your business Facebook, take client comments into consideration. Make time to reply to a client’s comment, particularly if it requires a product your business is promoting or selling.

Some newer, small businesses who, are just starting out, may consider only using a business Facebook account. Whilst this is possible it is not recommended.

By all means set up an online business, but build a website using a reputable website building company or tool. Links to the website can be included on a Facebook page. Facebook buttons to like your Facebook business page can be included on a business website.

Facebook business pages can be created and customized to suit an individual business style. This option is available through Facebook’s advanced learning opportunities options. These options also provide a number of resources in order to strengthen strategies used for advertising.

Like any website used in business and advertising, your Facebook business page, needs to be kept up to date. Providing your business Facebook page with regular updates of products and product information, potential clients will eventually come to you.

Inclusion of pictures to accompany a product description, often provide both existing and new customers to your site a detailed overview of product. These overviews and pictures are often a way for your business Facebook page to be shared with a customer’s Facebook friends list.

Make advertising interesting. By keeping adverts for your products, short, quirky and to the point, customers are bound to return or share your business page with others. Keep news feeds and status reports, informative, friendly, but business related. These are all ways of promoting your business on Facebook and advertising your company.

The advertising and promotion of businesses, through Facebook business pages, reach at least 90 per cent of a targeted audience. While, it has been reported that commercial advertising alone only reaches 70 per cent of a targeted audience.

Options to Confront and Manage Business Debt

Half of all small businesses fail within their first five years because of insufficient capital, poor credit arrangements, and business debts. The difference between a successful business and a struggling business is taking on the right amount of debt at the right time. When dealing with business debt, there are a few options to change a struggling business to a successful one.

Borrowing in business makes sense in order to create a cash flow, financial growth, or expand. However, there is a fine line and it is easy for small businesses to overextend themselves by borrowing too much without the capacity to make back what is owed.

There are two main ways to deal with debt. First is to save the business while settling debt. Second is to allow the business to fail, but with a well constructed exit strategy. This means financial consequences will be less.

In order to save the business, it may require taking money out of pocket to put into the debt payoffs. This is considered a calculated risk that could fail as easily as succeed. This option should only be done if it can be justified as a short term tactic that promises a long term payoff.

If private funds do not work, then areas need to be identified where costs can be reduced. An unused space could be subleases. Unused equipment could be sold off. The workforce could be reduced, although this is not attractive and has other consequences that come with it.

Talk to customers often to figure out how to increase exposure and improve the business model to earn more revenue. Offer best customers markdowns if they pay quicker. Contact suppliers to arrange discounts or deferred payments.

Creditors should be contacted and informed of the current debt situation. Ignoring lenders will make the situation worse. Tackling a debt problem in the early stages will make the process easier to resolve. It is in everyone’s best interest to find a solution, so lenders should work with businesses to lower interest rates, increase the credit line, and restructure repayment options.

Dealing with multiple creditors or collection agencies can take away from the important responsibility of running the business. If this is the case, debt problems should be outsourced to a professional debt settlement consulting company. Reputable consultants can negotiate with creditors on behalf of the business to settle debts for less than what is owed.

Loans can be consolidated into one payment that can be reduced into monthly costs without negatively affecting credit. Business debt consolidation loans allow owners to deal with a single creditor as opposed to many. This could allow for a loan with a lower interest rate.

This process works best when using a debt consultation company. They will negotiate a new loan, collect payments from the business, and pay off previous creditors. The loan can be unsecured or secured with business assets.

The last resort option is a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This route is only used to salvage a company for parts. Do not choose this option is the business debt is temporary and the company is otherwise viable.

Bankruptcy is an expensive and complicated process that requires services of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. This is not an option for simply reducing debt burden. If the business assets are worth less than the debt, bankruptcy allows owners to pay only what the assets are worth and not the entire balance due.

If a business is on life support with unmanageable debt, shutting the business down may be the best option. Do not just close the business without settling debt or else creditors can sue owners or go after personal assets. There are a few options for failing a business.

Sell the business to pay off lenders. Liquidate assets and negotiate with creditors for distribution of assets. Declare a Chapter 7 business bankruptcy to turn over the business to the bankruptcy trustee. In a Chapter 7, assets will be sold, outstanding accounts receivable will be emptied, owed taxes will be paid, and remaining funds to creditors will be distributed.