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Five online actions that may help your local business through Covid-19.

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting Australian small businesses in a multitude of ways.

From a loss of physical traffic into stores right through to numerous people working from home, the situation is changing daily during the COVID-19 outbreak and businesses are adapting to survive.

Below is an action plan of five things your business can do online to improve your chances of riding out this “once in a lifetime” pandemic.

1. Get on social media.

You should already have a social media account for your business and if you haven’t, you’d better set one up! Your customers are all on social media and you need to get two pieces of important information out to them now.

Firstly, you need to let your customers know that you are still operating and secondly, let them HOW you are operating. Have your hours changed? Are you delivering? Are you switching to online trading only? What measures are being taken in your business to mediate the current situation with COVID-19?

Put simply, you need to keep your customers informed about what your business is doing for the next few months.

2. Develop a Social Media Strategy.

A one-off post on your Facebook page is not going to solve anything. With the government guidelines for handling the COVID-19 crisis changing on an almost daily basis, you need to develop a brief strategy to ensure that you are continually visible online. This doesn’t need to be a long-winded document – it could as simple as a weekly calendar:

Monday: Facebook – This week at our business. Tuesday: Instagram – Pic of the team in action. Wednesday: Facebook – Customer of the Week. Thursday: LinkedIn – “Business to Business” offerings. Friday: Facebook – Throwback Friday or Friday Funny

Posting regularly keeps your local customers in the loop and gives them a regular visual reminder that you are still open for business.

3. Use your existing website to make online sales.

With social distancing being recommended by all levels of government, businesses can swiftly adapt their sites to start taking online orders and it doesn’t need to involve a full-blown eCommerce store. A simple online ordering form with your direct deposit information could be set up very quickly to make sales.

Of course, a full online store, with traffic directed from your social media streams, would be the perfect way to do business over the next few months. Your customers could simply select their products, pay for them online and have them shipped directly their door – without any physical contact at all.

4. Update Google my Business.

Check the information displayed by your Google My Business account is current and correct. This information is displayed in search results as people look for you and contains important details such as physical address, phone numbers, website address and opening hours.

Confirming that this information is correct could mean the difference between making a sale or a missed opportunity as more people search online for products and services.

5. Join local Networks and Groups

If you haven’t already, log onto Facebook and seek out your local community online. This might include groups such as local business directories, “buy, swap and sell” groups, your regional council and even the local Chamber of Commerce. Join these groups where relevant and share your business information.

Once you have joined a group – encourage others to start sharing each other’s posts wherever you can. The amount of coverage your business can get through sharing through sharing posts will surprise you.

Conclusion

Despite the gloomy outlook for the next few months in Australia, Covid-19 does not have to be the end of your business. Your business might need to evolve and embrace a different way of doing business, but if we all work together as a local community, we can help one another ride out the storm and emerge intact on the other side.

That’s the true meaning of being a local in a small regional town – we help each other out in times of need.

Why does your small-town business need a big business website?

Putting my obvious bias aside (and many other business owners will back me up here), I firmly believe that if you are operating a business in the 21st century, irrespective of where you are or what your business does, you must have a website.

Smart phones, tablets and computers are everywhere in our modern society and they are all “jacked” into the internet 24/7.

For the business owner, this means, regardless of who your customers are, they will be searching for you on Google. Very few people are reaching for the Yellow Pages these days – it takes far too long (no wonder the Yellow Pages have begun to move online) and can be confusing with the numerous listings. But if your customers can’t find you on Google, I’ll bet that they will certainly find your competitors in the search results and you will lose their business.

This also applies to businesses that traditionally operate out of a small-town community, like Innisfail, where I live and work. It’s important to remember that there are no borders to business anymore and, because of technology, the world is much smaller than it used to be.

Despite these facts, I still find myself, on a regular basis, trying to convince businesses in my hometown that a website is a necessity – even for them!

Here’s three of my counter arguments: –

A website expands your business beyond the borders of your community.

With a website there are no boundaries for your business. Once online, your site can sell products and services around the globe – it can even sell them while you are asleep! And, with the multitude of shipping options available nowadays, you can “move” your products very quickly to any destination on the earth.

So, why would you settle for doing business in a tiny demographic when you could go global?

As Donald Trump often says, “Think Big!”

A website can level the playing field for the “little guys”

Regardless of the size of your small business or its location, your website can compete on the same level as any other business in your industry. You may not have the flashy storefronts of your competitors or the sheer magnitude of their operations, but a website doesn’t have to worry about these things.

Your site can compete on the same level if it offers:

  • An easy to use interface.
  • A clear Call to Action (CTA).
  • Helpful service (through contact forms, online videos, pop-up chats, tricks or tips).
  • High quality products or services.

In short, if your website can deliver the same service as expected from the “big guys”, it has a chance at grabbing customers that would have once dismissed you as “too small”.

You can connect with customers like never before.

Businesses, both large and small, can now build their brands and followers through the use of an effective Social Media strategy. With very little effort, you can start a conversation with your customers and, as a result, grow a better understanding of their needs and wants.

Conversely, customers can carry on these discussions completely separate from your business involved and, as long as those discussions are positive, this will help to build the public image of that your brand.

Examples of this include:

  • Fashion products being spruiked by customers on their Instagram accounts.
  • Special announcements being launched instantly on Twitter.
  • A loyal Facebook following (a great source of testimonials).
  • Hashtags leading directly back to the source – your website.

A properly built and managed website allows a small-town business to build and expand beyond what was traditionally possible. By making your business easy to find, helpful and value for money – you will not only encourage locals to stick with you but may just hook into some lucrative “outside” business and from there – the only way is up!

Why wouldn’t a small business be online?

Today, the whole world is online.

From the school kids down at the skate park to grandparents on their “grey nomad” tours of Australia, each and every one of them is hooked up and on the net. Either through wireless, mobile, cable, fibre optics or copper wire, Australians (and the developed world for that matter) are processing and sharing information at a rate never seen before in history. We do our banking online, our research assignments online, our university courses online and, most importantly to business owners, we shop online.

With all this access, it is still mind-blowing that some businesses (52% of SMBs*) are still living in the dark ages and operating without an internet presence. That is, they don’t have a website. Why? Look at any business not using the web and I’m sure if you asked the owners, they’d be one of the categories below:-

Time Poor – When do I have time to learn about websites?

Running a business is always flat-out and hectic. With stock to order, employees to manage, bills to pay, premises to maintain among a million other things, there’s very rarely anytime left to do anything else. Some businesses use this as the main excuse to not create a website. Unless you can outsource the work of maintaining a website to an employee or an outside agency, the creation of a site just seems like too much of an extra burden. And this is on top of learning how to do it in the first place. It’s all too hard…

Technologically Naive – I don’t know anything about websites!

If a business has been operating for a number of years (i.e. from before the advent of websites) and working along fairly comfortably, the owners of the business may not be fully aware of what a website can do to improve the bottom line of any company. The simple phrase “We’ve done alright without one!” could be the main reason behind unwillingness to expand online. The inherit danger with this attitude is that the business may be missing out on a number of potential sales simply through an unawareness of the World Wide Web and its possibilities.

Another reason could be that the business operators may not be aware of the process to get a website designed and built. Technology can be fairly daunting to some people and websites are no different. Just the mere thought of moving online or even creating a site for the business can leave some people in a cold sweat.

Just Plain Poor – We can’t afford one right now…

With all the responsibilities listed in the section above, money can also be very tight at times and the perceived expense of website development may just be too much for the business to handle at any particular time. Rumours are often perpetuated about sites for small businesses running into the thousands and who has the spare cash to throw around like that?

Let’s debunk these theories one by one.

Firstly, there is no need for a business owner to fret about going online with their business. It merely needs to be seen as another part of your marketing strategy. Take a look at our four steps to getting online here – all you need to do is decide whether you need a website or not (you do!) and get in touch with a web developer to take care of the rest. If you merely want a brochure site that isn’t going to change often, nothing could be easier. But if you do have the time, maybe you could invest in a CMS site that you can update yourself – the learning curve to running your own site is not as steep as you think.

Secondly, if you are swept off your feet and have no time to run a site then get someone else to do it for you. Hire a developer to create the site and a copywriter to create the content – they can do amazing things with just a few dot points about your business, that’s their job. Already have a brochure about your company? A good copywriter can take this brochure and create a whole website of content for you. No photos? No worries. Stock photography is available for your business and only costs a couple of dollars per image.

Finally, although some web developers charge thousands for site development, it doesn’t need to be that expensive. Obviously, you cannot expect a highly polished site for $200 but if you do a little research and ask for a few quotes, you are sure to find a developer that can work within a reasonable budget. Take care though; make sure you check out online portfolios first to ensure that the designer can provide the high quality service you expect.

As you can see, there’s no excuse for not getting your business online these days. If your business wants to grow and continue to be competitive in today’s marketplace – it needs to be online.

SEO Checklist for Site Owners

Website owners often think that SEO factors such as keywords, title tags and descriptions are the key to ranking well in Google.

While they are still important, the Google algorithm has evolved and the practice of optimising just these parts of a web page are long gone – the “GoogleBot” now delves deeper into the context of a page and how your site interlinks with other sites on the World Wide Web. 

This checklist has been created to help site owners improve their page content in the eyes of the search engines. It also includes tips to improve vital external SEO factors as well.

#1 Keywords & Topics

Before any work starts on improving the SEO of your page content, spend a few minutes and write down the words and phrases your prospective customers might use to find your website. You may need to conduct research with your target audience to determine what they are looking for in your business.

#2 Content

Check that your written content has been created specifically for the target audience of the chosen topic or information. It needs to be relevant and consistent throughout the page – Google will pick up on your keywords and titles, checking these closely against the content you have written.  

#3 Page Title

The main title of each page on your site needs be relevant to the content and act as a unique tag for search engines. It should be a maximum of 60 characters and, if possible, contain the keywords that are most pertinent to the page topic.

The same rules apply for any sub-headings you may have throughout your content.

#4 Body Copy

Without over-obsessing on the usage of key words, check through the content on each of your pages to ensure that there is a scattering of the words that you anticipate your target audience will be using in their searches. With that in mind, ensure that your content still reads fluidly and makes sense without too much “jargon”.

#5 Tag every Image

Search engines can’t “see” images on your website. As a result, they can’t be used for search algorithm purposes unless they have been tagged with an Alt Attribute. These attributes are the small text boxes that you often see when you float your cursor over an image on a web page.

The Alt text helps the search engines understand what an image is about. These tags are a perfect way to add more keywords into a “hidden” part of your web page content.

#6 Inbound Links

Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are a great way for your website to gain attention and credibility with Google and other search engines. When established and authoritative websites link to your small business site, you automatically “inherit” some of their importance in the eyes of Google.

How do you get these other sites to link to your site? Create great content that people naturally want to link to and let them know about it. You can also look to foster quality links through natural business connections and networking opportunities.

Reciprocal links are also a great way to help each other out – “You link to me and I’ll link back to you.”

#7 Social Media and Online Directories

For this step, head to Google and type in your business name. If your business has been around for a while, you’ll see several search results from directories such as Yellow Pages and TripAdvisor, etc. Click on each and register your website address – in some cases, you may need to create a login. Each one that you add your address to could potentially become a backlink to your site.

Check that your business’ social media platforms have the site address listed as well. This ensures    that, if your target customer finds your social media first, they’ll still end up on your website.

Conclusion

While the list above is by no means comprehensive, by carrying out each of the steps shown, you will be placing your website in a good position to be found by Google and ranked accordingly. Tweaks to SEO are inevitable to improve your ranking over time and it is suggested that you check your search position every week to determine what SEO changes need to be made.

Social Media for your Small Business in 2019

On any given day, it has been estimated that 3.2 billion people in the world access social media of some kind. From Facebook to Twitter through to Instagram and LinkedIn, social media seems to permeate every aspect of our lives.

Most small businesses have come to the realisation that they need to be present on at last one or two platforms – but which are the best for your business in 2019?

To determine this, let’s take a brief look at five key players in the social media world that could help you grow your business online.

Facebook

The granddaddy of social medias, Facebook has long been the benchmark that other platforms aspire to. Unsurprisingly, with over 2 billion active users every month**, it is still the most widely used social media in the world.

For small business, Facebook is perfect for growing a community around your products and services in addition to creating brand awareness. When used effectively, a Facebook presence will make a notable difference in reaching your online marketing goals.

In addition, Facebook’s advertising portal (through which they make most of their profits) is easily the best established of any social media platform.

Instagram

Now part of the Facebook family, Instagram started life in 2010 as an online community where users could share images with their followers. Boosted by the rapid rise of smart phone usage throughout this decade, Instagram is used today by models, actors and numerous “influencers” across the world.

A perfect place for visual marketing, small business can utilise the high levels of engagement on Instagram to connect with a target audience. Its users follow accounts that they are genuinely interested which results in a high visibility of your posts.

As of 2019, it is estimated that one in three Australians use Instagram on a regular basis ***.

LinkedIn

Not quite as popular as the big two, the “Facebook for Business” still has an impressive audience of nearly eight million Australians however only around four million log in to their account regularly****.

Statistically, LinkedIn is the second most popular social media site, after Facebook, for medium to large businesses. It’s less popular with small businesses, who are more likely to utilise the crowd power of Facebook and Instagram.

For businesses that offer Business to Business (B2B) services, LinkedIn is perfect for creating online networks of professionals across industries.

Twitter

Once the darling of the #hashtag world, Twitter’s reach into the online world has dwindled over the past five years. It currently ranks in 9th place and is most popular with users in their 30’s.

In professional circles, Twitter is still a great source for real-time commentary on current affairs. With an increase in tweet length (140 characters to 240) and a recent move to allow imagery, the Twitter platform may be one to watch as it evolves to compete with other social media.

YouTube

Thanks to an overabundance of funny cat videos, YouTube is often forgotten as a serious social media contender. With strong content, the online video platform is perfect for engaging an audience with entertaining and interesting information about small business goods and services.

With a staggering one in every two Australians using YouTube every day ***, it is a great place to visually demonstrate the goods and services your small business has to offer.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that despite all the hard work you do on social media to grow your audience, you are “building your house on borrowed land” – it could be all gone tomorrow – just like Google+.

To avoid placing all your eggs in the one basket, use social media as part of your marketing funnel with your business website as the central hub. Depending on your host (users of Wix or Squarespace beware), your website is the one place on the internet that you can truly control. Use Facebook, Instagram and other social media to develop awareness of your business and nurture a following that you can direct towards sales and services on your small business website.

* https://wearesocial.com/blog/2019/01/digital-2019-global-internet-use-accelerates

** https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/

*** https://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics/

**** https://mediaaccess.org.au/web/social-media/linkedin

Your business needs a Website – why not do it yourself?

I love YouTube and its intuitive advertisement system – I believe it is a very clever way to target a certain demographic with the correct type of ad. Only problem is that I am always targeted with DIY website builder advertisements and one in particular is driving me crazy atm. It starts with the simple statement (I won’t give away the business name) – “You need a Website – Why not do it yourself?”

Where do I start to answer that question?

These days, there are literally hundreds of online website builders that offer free or supposedly cheap site design for business owners who want to create their online presence. Sign up, choose a template, chuck in some content and imagery and away you go. But as I have said previously, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

There are numerous pitfalls and traps related with using these websites that the casual user may not see. If you have bigger plans than just creating a quick site, such as generating traffic, expanding your business and generating profits – you must stay well away from these quickie sites.

Here’s the top five reasons why:

1. Building a website is not easy! 

There’s to a site than meets the eye. Not only does a website have to look good, it has to “act” in a certain way in order to drive customers into making a purchase or acquiring your services. That’s after they find you in the first place!

A good website has search engine optimisation, backup facilities, content management system, call to actions and many other components planned individually to suit your particular business and integrated into the design from day one. There is absolutely no way that an online builder knows (or even cares) what your business needs. This is what a real web designer comes in handy!

2. You don’t want the same site as everyone else – you want your own!

Using an online site builder involves using a template design – a pre-designed layout which you customise with your logo and content. If you are lucky, you may even be able to alter the theme colours – to a pre-set range of options, of course.

What this invariably means is there is potential for your site to look exactly the same as dozens of others. Chances are, if you liked a particular template, so did hundreds of small business owners around the globe. You will definitely not have that individual look that should define your site from all the others.

C’mon – your business should be as individual as you are – and so should your website.

3. Your site can disappear at any time!

“Never build your house on someone else’s land.” If you are ever tempted to go with an online site builder (paid subscriber or free), be very aware of the small print in the “Terms and Conditions.” The service provider, whoever that may be, reserves the right to remove any site at their own discretion, even if there is no legal reason for doing so.

That right!

The online site builder can go belly up overnight or just decide they don’t like you and your precious site is history. Add to that, the headquarters may be in Israel and your legal rights don’t have any weight at all there.

4. We actually care about your site and how it works for you.

There is absolutely no connection between your business and the online site builders during any stage of the process. You never speak to anyone and email is the only way to communicate. Even then, you will probably “converse” with a different service centre controller each time.

When you choose an actual web designer, we talk to you throughout the design of your website. We check that our decisions are on the mark and ensure that you are entirely happy with the results. This is essential to create a site that works specifically for your business.

On top of this, we need to ensure that your site is the best it can be because the success of our own business relies on “happy” customers. If you aren’t happy with the end results, you probably won’t refer us onto anyone and you definitely won’t give us a shining testimonial. That’s not good for business.

5. Your site should be your own – not covered with advertisements for other businesses.

If you opt for the free version of most online site builders, you will end up with a big banner ad somewhere on your site stating that “THIS SITE WAS CREATED WITH …. – BUILD YOUR OWN FOR FREE!”

Not exactly that professional look you are aiming for.

As web designers, Rusty Mango puts its name at the bottom of websites that we build because we are proud of what we do. It also tends to help a little built with your site’s SEO. But we don’t put something there to scream out “GET US TO BUILD YOUR WEBSITE!” – That’s just rude.

Taking all of the above into account, the reality is that if you want your website done right, don’t do it yourself. With the precious time that you spend learning the system, creating the site and populating it with content, the end result is still a site that just doesn’t work. That’s time you could be spending more effectively working on your business, making sales and providing service to your customers.

Instead spend a little time finding a web designer that produces the type of work that you want (check their portfolio) and you feel comfortable working with to build and maintain your website. This will prove to be a much better investment in the long run.

Google hates my website!

How to get some “love” from the search giant…

Getting a website for your business is only part of the challenge in creating an online presence. But what if nobody is finding that website? No visitors – no point having a site in the first place. Google is the king when it comes to online search and if your site isn’t visible in their search rankings, then your site is invisible.

But what if you have submitted your site to Google, and nothing happens? Or, just as bad, what if your website is appearing on page 22 of search results? No-one is going to find you.

Technically, despite the title of this blog, Google can’t hate your website. It may not like some of your practices, the content you are delivering or how you are presenting your information to your visitors. These are some of the factors that can lead to poor search rankings.

But luckily, there are some simple measures that you can apply to your site to get some of that Google “love”:

1. Use keywords intelligently

Keywords have always been regarded as the main part of Google’s search algorithm*. Pre-2010 websites used to be “stuffed” with keywords to get a good result in search listings.

Try that now and you may find your site blacklisted. In 2019, Google likes the keywords to be integrated with the content that it represents.

TIP: To implement keywords on your site:
– Write down a list of the terms that people may use to find what you are offering.
– Simply insert those terms into the relevant parts of your website’s text. Ensure that the content still reads correctly and don’t try to “squeeze” every single term onto every single page.

2. Ensure your site is “mobile friendly”

If your site isn’t displaying properly on a mobile device then you are not only missing out on site visitors, you are also risking a penalty from Google.
Back in 2015, Google stated that “that comparable mobile sites will rank higher than non-mobile friendly sites in mobile search results.”

TIP: Don’t lost position – if your site is not mobile, get in touch with your web developer today.

3. Create a Site Map

Google uses web crawlers known as Googlebots to “crawl” through websites across the internet and these bots love a bit of direction. That is why having a site map integrated into your website is very important.

This map tells the bot how to intelligently move through your site. It also tells the search engine where the content is on your site and when it was last updated.
TIP: If your site is built on WordPress (all ours are), you can easily add a site map with a plugin like Google XML Sitemaps.

4. Deliver content with value

Google doesn’t actually read the content of your website. It observes the number of people that are searching for you, whether they go to your site, how long they stay, whether they dig into your site, etc.

Using this information, Google surmises whether your site visitors are finding what they are looking for and if it is worth viewing.

TIP: Read through your site content and make sure it is all “on point”. If it doesn’t benefit your site visitor, then it may not be benefiting you through Google.

5. Secure your site

Another area where Google enforcing change is the security of websites across the internet. An insecure site is a prime target for hackers and Google doesn’t want to lead any of its users into a dangerous site.

TIP: All sites must have a security certificate (SSL) installed at the server level to keep Google happy. This encrypts data traveling between the server and your visitor’s computer/device. To show site visitors that your site is secure, a security certificate displays a small padlock in the address bar of all browsers and adds https:// to the start of the web address.

Conclusion

If your business needs any assistance with implementing the various tips above to your website, please get in touch with the team at Tropical Coast Web Design. We’d be happy to help you get some Google love…

* The Google search algorithm is known as PageRank (named after Larry Page – one of the founders of Google). It is used by Google Search to rank web pages in their search engine results.

Five Security Fixes your site needs right now!

Currently, there are over 1.6 billion websites on the WWW and your business website is just one of them. “There’s safety in numbers” you might say when talking about your site’s security – “why would anyone target me?”

HackerIt’s important to know that Cyber Criminals and Spammers don’t physically trawl the web, using “bots” * instead to scour millions of sites every day. Looking for ways to hack into systems, they don’t care who you are or what your site is. If these bots find a weakness or backdoor to your site, you may be in trouble.

*specially coded programs

Benjamin Franklin wisely said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” so here’s five site security fixes that you can implement today:

#1 – Get a Security Certificate for your site.

A security (SSL) certificate is an addition to your website server* Google that creates a secure link between a website and a visitor’s browser by confirming the site’s legitimacy.

If your site doesn’t have one, you risk being penalised by Google (and other search engines) with a drop in your search ranking. In addition, site visitors may be receiving warnings form their browsers that your site is “not secure”.

Luckily, an SSL certificate is quick to install on most web servers. Simply contact your service provider and ask for a certificate to be installed.

* the place where your site’s files live on the internet.

#2 – SPAM Controls

You would have to be living on another planet to not have been the recipient of SPAM emails. It is the bane of every single inbox on the planet. Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way to stop SPAM completely but there are several things you can do to reduce the risk.

  • Make sure that your online forms are all guarded by Google’s new ReCaptcha protocol. It’s invisible and it works.
  • Update all plugins on your site to their latest versions whenever new versions are released.
  • Check that your web server has effective SPAM filters at its core level.

#3 – Plugin Updates

As mentioned above, if your site uses plugins for any of its core functions, make sure that you update them whenever a new release becomes available. If your site is built on the WordPress framework, this includes the core as well.

Hackers continually look for ways into vulnerable servers and will use any weakness to break their way into your site. An out of date plugin (or WordPress version) on your site could be the weak link they are looking for.

#4 – Latest Version of PHP

PHP is a programming language used in the development of many modern website and, just like plugins, there are new versions of PHP released on a regular basis. These updates are not only for closing any security vulnerabilities but also includes adding new functionalities to the language that can then be used for new functions on your website.

As with plugins, you can easily keep your PHP version up to date (usually via your web server’s Control Panel).

#5 – Install WordFence

If you haven’t guessed by now, WordPress is my website framework of choice for developing. One of the reasons for this is the amazing range of plugins that add further functionality to the basic core of the framework.

One of these is the excellent security plugin Wordfence. Wordfence provides a range of features and options for site owners that help protect their sites from hacking. On top of this, Wordfence provides monitoring of the other components in a site and notifies, via email, when action needs to be taken.

There are two versions of Wordfence, a free version which provides basic protection as outlined above, and a premium version which includes top level protection for your site.

Wordfence is a must for any site built using WordPress.

Conclusion

Nearly all the security measures outlined here can be implemented by a regular site owner with access to their site’s “backend”. However, if you require assistance at any time bolstering the security of your website, please get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design and we will take care it for you – hassle free.

Five Steps to reboot your Business Mojo

Loss of business mojo happens to all of us from time to time. As business owners, it can sometimes be hard to maintain enthusiasm and drive all the time towards our work.

Five Steps to reboot your Business MojoSometimes it feels like we have lost our motivation and are just going through the motions in order to get things done. We feel no real urge to seek out and try new things (like marketing tactics). If this sounds familiar to you, then maybe your Business Mojo might just need a reboot!

If you are looking for some help so get things going again, here five quick tips that I personally have found useful to get inspired and back on track.

1. Get out and Exercise!

This might seem a bit of a strange tip in a business and marketing blog, however I find my focus for the day is sharper after some form of morning exercise. A simple 30 minute walk or jog can do the trick and the best thing is you can kill two birds with one stone by exercising to some…

2. Podcasts!

There are literally thousands to choose from. The best way to find the podcasts bested suited to you is to have a look on iTunes (for the Apple fans) and BeyondPod (for the Android users among us). Podcast One is another source for all kinds of podcasts from all types of genres.

A great podcast can expose you to a world outside the business that you generally work in and, just by listening to some success stories and the experiences of others, you might just find that missing spark you are looking for.

3. Reading

Once again, for those seeking external motivation from the best in the business, there is an abundance of great books that can get you inspired. Several great books that I can whole-heartedly recommend include:

  • Pour your heart into it – The Starbucks Story by Howard Schultz
  • Like a Virgin by Richard Branson
  • The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
  • Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

I must confess that I have read a couple of these more than once just to try and squeeze every possible gem out of them! They are all written by people who have created their own huge success stories and it help me to think – “there’s nothing to stop me being one too!”

4. Talk to other like-minded business people.

Seeking and talking biz with like-minded business owners can be a very powerful experience. But first you need to seek out an appropriate network. You could join your local Chamber of Commerce, start your own networking group or just talk to friends who work in similar industries (or maybe completely different). If you feel a little isolated and don’t know where to start, get online and join a forum.

5. Sit back and reflect

Sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day of our businesses and we lose sight of what we have achieved and how far we have come. Take some time out and think about when you started your business. What were your goals? Why did you start?

Look at your past achievements and the work you have done. I love to go back and look at sites that I created 10 years ago and see just how bad they are! Of course, they didn’t look too bad back then but the progress since has made all of them look positively antiquated.

Guaranteed, if you look at the progress and successes of your business from where you have come from, you will start to see a clearer way forward and gain some of the motivation you think you have lost. You haven’t lost it – it’s still there, just hidden from view.

Why Online Stores are the Best Thing since Sliced Bread

In small towns across North Queensland (and elsewhere I’m sure), there is evidence of an economic downturn on every main street.

Online StoresMany small shop fronts are sitting empty with no real outlook to opening again anytime soon. The factors behind this situation are many and varied but one of the most common blames is put directly onto the rise of online shopping.

If your business sells products of any shape or form, whether they are toasters, cars or even houses, there is absolutely no reason why you should miss out on a cut of the market by not having your very own ecommerce store. It doesn’t matter if you are a huge conglomerate with hundreds of stores nationwide or the local dress shop marketing your own fashions, everyone can have a slice of the pie if they are clever and utilise the power of the web.

There is a huge recompense to having an online store that most business owners don’t recognise, and these advantages can’t be achieved through a regular bricks and mortar store.

An online store has no landlord!

Not a single cent is paid in rent for your online store. The only costs you will incur, other than the original design of your site, is the monthly/yearly charge for your web server, the domain name and charges from outside agencies such as PayPal and/or your bank.

When you compare this to the cost of leasing a shop, you can guess who comes out in front. Talking to local business owners in my home town has shown me that the cost of a lease is one of the biggest factors forcing businesses to close. There’s not enough custom through the front door to warrant the outlay. No such problem with an online shop.

Levels the playing field with the Big Guys

When you operate an online store, you can pretend to be as big or small as you want. Many small online operators like to push the “smaller” operation approach as this can help to give you that personal touch missing from one of the larger stores. However, stores like Harvey Norman are trying to cash in on this notion by utilising a chat system that pops up at the bottom of the shop screen. Once again, the small business owner can compete with this through the use of a very simple plug in like ClickDesk or LiveChat.

Open for Business 24/7

An online store means that you can make a sale – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even when you are asleep, your site can be making for you. Imagine logging on at work each morning (during the business week, of course) and seeing a whole backlog of purchases that were made and paid for even while the physical offices of your business were shut! The advantages of this should be whole apparent – you can’t do this with a bricks and mortar store. Once again, you can compete with the big guys – on their level.

Customer Interaction

An Ecommerce store can also be integrated with a healthy Social Media campaign allowing the store to “converse” with customers and potential customers in a friendly environment. Any problems or questions about products and services can be solved with no awkward or sometimes aggravated face to face contact. Tips and tricks can be passed on almost immediately to patrons with no wait time (depending on the level of customer service available) – business owners can answer issues from the luxury of their armchairs at home if they want.

An ideal example of this customer interaction can be seen in full use by Blackmilk Clothing on both their Facebook pages and website. Happy customers can be seen happily conversing with the Blackmilk team and showing off their latest purchases on the pages of the site. In return, the Blackmilk team gets instant feedback and direction, straight from the people wearing their gear.

Final Note

An online store can add an extra line of revenue to a business and it doesn’t even have to be the end of the physical shop front. Caravans Plus in Queanbeyan operate both with an offer in their ecommerce checkout that allows customers to order online and pickup in person, a perfect setup for the grey nomad travelling through that part of the world. No freight!

If you are interested in creating an online store, get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design and have a chat about what is possible for your business. We can create ecommerce stores for all types of businesses, large and small.

 

Tropical Coast Web Design