Top 10 Rules for Small Business Success

1. Find Your Niche

You are not all things to all people. Decide on your target market and narrow your focus in order to broaden your appeal.

2. What’s Different?

What’s different about what you are doing? Stand out from an overcrowded market where so much of the advertising and products look the same.

3. Surround Yourself with Great People

Build a team. Employ people as part of your business, not just to work for it.

4. Be Faster than Your Competition

Time is the most precious commodity. When delivery is expected Friday, show up Thursday afternoon. Return calls and emails as soon as possible.

5. Thank Your Customers

Tell your customers and employees how much you appreciate them. Consider hand-writing a note for an even more personal touch.

6. Be Consistent

Make sure your business has a consistent look and feel. A customer must get the same flavor from everyone within your organization. Always. Think “franchise” – even if you aren’t one. We recommend the E-Myth by Gerber. He talks a lot about this.

7. Smile

Throw out the reasons you think people buy from you like price, product quality or your warranty. People buy because they like you – and a blue suit doesn’t hurt things.

8. Fanatical Optimism

The glass must always be half full. Attitude will always win out in the end and infect all of those around you.

9. Sell Soft

Don’t ever hard sell. Solve problems. Satisfy wants. Do what is truly best for your customer. Do what you would want done for you.

10. Leave Your Comfort Zone

Never accept the idea that this is the way you’ve always done it. Never accept that a new idea or technology could never work for you. Ask why.

10 Effective Marketing and IT Solutions for Small Businesses

10 ways small businesses or entrepreneurs can use their new website to expand their business – not just their online presence.

Promote your website.

Create social spaces on web 2.0 places like Facebook, Myspace, & Youtube. Create content that attracts visitors, then link to your site to draw traffic to the products and services you offer. Content is king so the more articles, blog posts, pictures, video, and information you post, the more people will land on your site and ultimately patronize your business. Even if you don’t decide to use these web 2.0 services, we recommend creating accounts there to reserve your brand name and prevent others from using or abusing it. An easy, but effective way to promote is to ask peers in your field or related fields to link to your site. This gives legitimacy to your website and helps boost search engine rankings. Periodically review your primary keywords. Are your customers finding you using these keywords? Adjust if necessary.

Be the master of your domain.

Do you have a new domain that you would like to create email addresses for different parts of your company or for your staff? Think of internal and external uses for email using your new domain including distribution lists that might benefit your business. Decide if you’d like to manage your own email or have someone else do it for you. There are hardware and software solutions for both options if your business has the need. There are also ways to use your domain to store documents safely and securely online. Make your staff more productive by sharing documents and setting up a wiki using your new domain. Create a sub-domain to install a CRM package like SugarCRM or BaseCamp or online applications like Microsoft Office Live or Google Apps. Create a sub-domain like “remote” and configure remote access to your office PC or server – get secure access to your desktop or server from anywhere, as easy as typing in a website address.

Prepare for growth.

Create processes for what you’ll do when you get an email from your website. Be prepared for when you get them. Decide what information you want to collect from your website using the web form, the analytics, or via phone call, and then create a privacy policy. Users may want to know how their information is collected and used online then post this privacy policy. Some online advertising programs like Google Adsense require that your site have a privacy policy posted with specific verbiage. Check with your vendors to see if they require that your site have a privacy policy. In addition to creating a privacy policy, you might want to consider creating a customer resource management (CRM) tool to store the information you collect. This can be as simple as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, Google Sites, or SugarCRM. You’ll want to know who your customers are and where they came from.

Manage your ROI.

Any other advertising you are doing on billboards, radio, TV, or print should be pointed back to specific, non-linked pages on your website in order to determine the ROI on those advertisement investments. Use analytics to see what pages your customers or potential customers are visiting to determine how they got there. See what pages people are entering your site through and which ones they are leaving and how long they are staying on each. This way you can adapt your website and improve performance. If you are not getting the results you desire, review your call to action to see if users are responding to it. Is it clear what the site is asking them to do? Protect your brand and know who is talking about and/or linking to your website by setting up alerts to notify you when someone writes about you online or links to your site.

Update your marketing.

Does your old image or brand not reflect your new website? You might need to update your branding and/or logo to match the look and feel of your new website. Update any signs, business cards, or marketing materials, especially business cards with your new website’s address. If you are promoting your business on Twitter, Facebook, or Myspace, you might consider adding these websites as well. Be discriminate, but don’t hide them either. Transparency is a hot business trend in 2009 and may continue into the future. Creating a dialog with the customer is important, but its not enough to expect them to converse with you on your website, you have to go to where your customers are. And for the most part, your customers are on social spaces like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter.

Keep your website fresh.

Your website is new now, but that won’t always be the case. Customers expect a website to change its content over time. When you have news, post it to your website. When you have sales or begin selling a new product or service, post it. This will help keep your business looking fresh and alive. A general rule is to change something on your website’s home page or primary landing page at least once a month. An easy way to do this if you don’t have much news it to change out pictures or video. Content on your social spaces is more strict and should change daily. A stagnant social space can sometimes do more harm than good so make sure to keep it updated and you will reap the rewards from engaged customers and brand loyalty.

Save money.

You may have paid a newspaper or head hunter to help you find top talent before. Now you can use your website to collect résumé’s or post jobs online. You can also use your website to do market research testing the popularity of a product or service before you buy inventory or hire a new staff member. Use analytics and promotion to help you tease information out of the content you post. In this way you will save money from buying and promoting a failed offering until you find the one that truly has a market. Save even more if you’ve used a market research firm for this type of service in the past.

Make money.

This may or may not be the primary goal of your website, but you now have a platform for selling products or services directly to customers online – just as you would over a physical counter in a store. You can have the ability to accept credit cards on your site or through services like Paypal or Google Checkout. You can also use part of your website for affiliate referrals which pay you when someone signs up for something on another site. This is a form of an advertisement and if you were inclined to add that, there are options to sell space or work with major partners like Google as an additional way to generate capital for your business.

Rethink location.

Now that you have a website, how might you use it to expand your business’ footprint? What products or services did you not offer before because of location? You might want to reevaluate decisions you’ve made in the past in relation to your physical location. Now that you have a website which is not necessarily restricted by where it is on a map, how does that affect your business model? Does this allow you to broaden your market? Does it allow you to consider setting up a franchise or sales offices elsewhere? Taking this thought experiment to the next level, could you create premium content about how you do what you do and either offer subscription-level service to those who need the information or even write a book about it?

About Erich Stauffer Web Design and Promotion

At Erich Stauffer, we believe that, the keys to a successful business are organization, accountability, and execution. This is a philosophy that we not only practice internally, but expect our clients to hold us to as well. Client Service is our #1 priority, and our team of professionals will work with you to design and promote your website to achieve your vision of a successful business.

Erich Stauffer delivers exceptional solutions for your business:

  • Professional web design to keep visitors and gain customers
  • Web promotions to attract visitors
  • Web Analytics to show a return on your investment (ROI)

We are an Indianapolis firm serving the entire Midwest region and beyond. We offer web design and development services for all types and sizes of businesses.

Don’t have a website yet? There’s no better time than now to invest in the future success of your business. An attractive website is a critical component of success for any business. At Erich Stauffer, we can create, update, and maintain your website. Our company also offers other valuable services such as:

The next step is to contact our Sales Manager who will arrange a time to have an initial consultation. We look forward to discussing how to help make your vision of a successful business come to life through the power of the web. After all, “Our Business is Helping Your Business.

Get a free quote today!