Websites You Must Know – Part 4

Special report: My last website, or websites as the case may be, are the online versions of Entrepreneur and Inc.  These websites have many useful articles, suggestions, and courses to help small businesses be more successful or help them find the right product.  I couldn’t choose just one of them so I am choosing both.

I hope you have enjoyed this series.  I expect that I will be referencing websites of others in the future to support my own articles but I believe these are the most important to know.

Websites You Must Know – Part 3

Special report: The next website that you must know is findlaw.  They have a small business area of their website that is dedicated to every law that a small business must follow or that was passed to help small businesses out.

From FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business, is the world’s leading provider of online legal information and Internet marketing solutions for law firms. FindLaw’s roots go back to 1995, when two attorneys compiled a list of Internet resources for a group of law librarians in northern California. The response to the material was so positive they decided to post the information on the Internet.

Websites You Must Know – Part 2

Special report: The second website you must know as a small business person is the Small Business Administration website.

From The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. We recognize that small business is critical to our economic recovery and strength, to building America’s future, and to helping the United States compete in today’s global marketplace. Although SBA has grown and evolved in the years since it was established in 1953, the bottom line mission remains the same. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

Websites You Must Know – Part 1

Special report: I am away on a road trip February 18 through 21, so I have put together this four part series on websites that you must know as a small business person.  I will give just a small description and link to keep my writing time down this week…

The first website I would like to highlight is the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.  For those of us who live in the United States, this is the federal agency that we pay business and personal taxes to.  The IRS website has a ton of information about all kinds of tax situations.  It is the ultimate guide to what you can and cannot do for tax purposes.

It’s About Business

Back in the 1990’s when we were first starting our business, guys were starting “.com” businesses and investors were just throwing money at them.  Having an internet website meant money, sometime in the future, even if you didn’t know how you were going to get it.  Putting a great site on the internet meant a great future for the company, and investors were buying the Brooklyn Bridge over and over again.  Then, people came to the realization that these businesses they were investing in didn’t make any money, and they probably wouldn’t into the foreseeable future.

And that is the problem.  Doing business on the internet is still about doing business.  About selling a product.  About making a profit.  It’s business.  And being an entrepreneur is about starting and building a business.  It doesn’t matter whether that business is built on the internet, or if you’re building a business using a multi-level marketing plan.  It’s still business.

Starting a business is partially about motivation.  But it is not all about motivation.  Having a certain set of skills in your bag of tricks is important.  Knowing how to market and sell is exceptionally important early on.  Finding good information.  Executing your business plan.  These are all very important skills to learn.  They can all be learned “on the job”, so as you are starting your business you learn the skills you need at the time.  Sometimes, though, you don’t know what you need to know… so it is a good idea to study general business concepts.

You can do it.  You can start a business of your own and be successful.  Just remember that no matter what you do and how you do it, it is still a business.

Blog Directories To Submit Your Blog To

Special Report: Here are some blog directories you can submit your blog to.  I did my best to get a complete list but I may have missed some.  Please comment if you know of any others.

These are all free to submit blog directories.  Thank you to the following sources for this list:

Places To Submit Your Website

Special Report: Here are places where you can submit your website, be it a fully-functional website, blog, or free web page:

We get most of our hits from StumbleUpon, Google, and Yahoo so don’t get too crazy about needing to be listed in the entire world of directories.  Soon I will post places where you can submit your blog for free, and there are a ton of them.

Other Blogs That I Read

Special report: I thought tonight I would give you a list of other blogs that I read:

I also watch “What’s New On Yahoo” but I’ll spare you that link.  If you have any other blogs that are good to read, feel free to post them as a comment.  Also let me know if any of these links don’t work, I’ll take them off.

Using Technology To Further Your Business Objectives

Technology can be a great tool to assist you in running your buisness or it can be a serious distraction.  We had already talked about having an online sales presentation as a website, and promoting your website on the internet.  I think about promotion as advertising and a website as media, neither are really technology in the scheme of things.  Although a website literally is software that causes your browser to do various things.

As far as technology goes I am taking about the hardware and software you use for various business tasks.  That might include your word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, financial software, computer, cell phone, pda, and anything else in a similar vein.  There are a lot of cool things to use these days but are they helping or hurting your business?  If you spend three hours per day answering email, this is probably hurting your business because you are not selling or managing your business.

We used technology in many different ways for our business.  We used Quickbooks to manage our sales, customer service, and financials.  We stored customer names, addresses, credit card numbers, and specific issues with the customer as part of their customer record for quick look up.  We used software that I wrote to convert emails that were requests for information to shipping labels.  This saved us having to add customer information to Quickbooks that would get free info and samples but would never order.  This program would also print labels for orders.  Codes were printed above the customer name that would tell us what the customer would order: How many bottles, information and samples, or business information.  The program would also assemble credit card data for our credit card processor so we could just run a bunch in and not have to enter each one.

We put little labels on all of our bottles and samples, which we generated with a label program.  I used spreadsheets to figure out how much product we should order and when so that our orders got filled on time.  We used a postage meter and shipped through the US Post Office.  We advertised we shipped priority mail and used their tyvek envelopes that we could get for free.  We had a black and white laser printer (so passe these days) to print invoices, labels, and anything else we needed to print.

On top of all of these technologies, we also had a telephone system.  At first, we leased time with an off-site service that we could configure to do what we wanted.  Our 800 number went to the automated service and it would direct customers to a scripted voice mail for orders and information, round robin people to us or one of our distributors, or put them into a general voice mail.  We told it our office hours and it would not put a call through to us after business hours.  This was important because we would often get jarred awake in the middle of the night by a telephone call or a fax.

Oh and yes, we did have a fax machine.  We printed order forms that people would fill out and mail in with a check, or fax in with a credit card number.  So our options to order were: mail, fax, scripted voice mail, 800 number, or internet.  All of our options had information about the other options so that customers could choose their methods.

Without all of our technology, we could not have served all of the customers we had or our distributors.  As things were we often stayed up until midnight and beyond getting things out the door.  Our business objective was to avoid hiring employees and we were able to successfully do this with our technologies and with the tireless effort of my wife Chris, who was going constantly with young kids, returning telephone calls, filling orders, and getting the mail to the post office.

Often our technology advances were exercises in solving problems that we had.  Our label print program was developed because we could not keep up with the information requests for instance.  If your business grows enough, you will find ways to use technology to solve problems and further your business objectives.

How To Get 15,000 Hits Per Day To Your Website

To be honest with you, I have no idea how much traffic we got to our e-commerce web site at its peak.  We were just doing a ton of business.  So much so we couldn’t keep up, let alone check our web stats.  At first I wanted to see where people were going on the site, so I did check, but after a while just fulfilling our customer orders and requests was about all we could do beyond taking care of our children and working a full time job.

I expect, though, that we were listed on the web directory with the most traffic at the time: Yahoo.  And, we were the only distributor of our product, which was an exceptionally popular product, on the Yahoo directory.  So the product was searched a ton and we were the only site other than the corporate site available to people who were searching.  So that is the key to getting a ton of traffic to your website: Have the only website for an extremely popular web search.  Good luck with that.

Other than that, traffic to your website will be based on having pages with information people want to find.  Perhaps not the only supplier of the information, and not the most popular search, but generally having information being searched.  The more pages you have with information people want, the more visitors your site will get.  Better yet, have your visitors build pages of information that other visitors will want to view, such as having a forum.  I once ran a directory that was extremely popular because people wanted free listings on it.  Too bad it didn’t generate a whole lot of income.

If you are giving away free samples or products, free web space, free information that people want, or free services that people want, vistors will flock to your site.  You just need to make sure it doesn’t require a whole lot of maintenance to take care of your visitors or you will find yourself very busy.  If you have good software, though, many of these web services can take care of themselves.  You just need to have purchased hosting that can handle the traffic you’ll get.

We were lucky and good, and had a business that made us money and that we could support.  If you work hard enough at promoting your site, you will also get lucky.  You just need to keep working at it for long enough.

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