Hosting your Website.

A Website is an investment in your future. Forget about cost, rather look at the potential income the Website will generate over time. Income that will protect your business investment and that will allow you to live comfortably.

Let me put it another way, your Website is an important part of your Marketing.

All this means is, that you cannot trust it to whatever is the cheapest available hosting around. i know cost is important, but if your Website is never available due to server downtimes or even worse, you have run out of bandwidth – the saving you get from using the wrong Hosting Provider, has the potential to destroy your Business.

So what do you need from a Professional Hosting Provider?

  • Enough Space for your Website Files (I give you at least 500mb*)
  • Enough Bandwidth for your Website can always be found online (I give you at least 1Gb*)
  • 99 Percent Uptime Guarantee – that is why I have partnered one of the top 3 US Hosts
  • Data Driven Website Software
  • Your Own Control Panel
  • Anything from 1 to as many as you need eMail addresses
  • and of course, Service
  • and let’s not forget, Affordability

Professional Website Hosting from R15.00/USD1.50 per Month

Choosing your Website’s Domain Name

Small Business must have a Brand that stands out. Several elements make up your brand. Your Domain Name is one of those elements.

Your Domain Name serves as your Address on the Internet. The care you took when choosing a name for your business should also go into choosing a Domain name.

The first thing you need to consider is where is your target market. If they are in South Africa, you should choose a DOT COZA suffix, if they are International try for a DOT COM. Maybe they are in Italy, then choose DOT IT.

The next step is the actual Domain Name. First prize is using your Business Name, but you may be trading as Bill Harper Plumbing in Port Elizabeth and there is another Bill Harper in East London, and he is also a plumber and already owns billharperplumbing.co.za leaving you with the options – harperplumbing.co.za or billharper.co.za.

But what if these are also taken and maybe the DOT COMS for these are also taken. There are other options, for example DOT ME or DOT BIZ and if he wants the Internet equivalent of Vanity Licence Plates for vehicles, DOT PLUMBING.

How important is having the right Domain Name? Your Domain Name is part of your Branding, so it needs to be relevant, as well as being memorable and most important easy to spell.

Because Websites are a good way to learn about a business – people will ask you for your Website address and then look you up at the first possible opportunity by typing in the address you gave them.

Search Engines have become smarter and are likely to give you the site you are looking for, provided it has been optimised for search. Search Engines will give you what they believe to be the best result, based on their criteria- so typing in a Domain Name (if you have it) may still give you the best result.

Choose care fully – your Domain is your address in Cyberspace and could just as easily end up on the wrong side of the tracks as not.

The OnePager

The One pager - A Starter WebsiteWhen it comes to Websites, one page is all you need. When a visitor lands on the front page of your Website, and if it is not what he is looking for, he will leave. If he needs a plumber after hours, and you do not tell him if you offer an emergency service, he will continue looking for one that does.

A Website is fast becoming a necessity. As Internet connectivity becomes cheaper and more readily available, consumers are taking advantage of the information available to them. They can research products and services before making an informed purchase. Their information comes from your Website and that of your competition. 

The cost of setting up and operating a Website can prove to be more than some Small Businesses can afford. But they end up paying  a greater cost with lost customers and sales when they do not have a Website. 

Solutions Web offers The OnePager – a Starter Website for R1750.00 (normal price R1999.00) see here for more information.

A Website is your  Why, Who, What, Where When and How: 

Why should they use you – Your Value Statement

Who are you – share you passion

What do you doyour products and Services

Where can they find you – your contact details and address

When are you available – your operating times

How – what to do if they have a problem

That is a lot of information to put on one page. The trick is simply to split it into chunks. By placing a Static Navigation bar on the Top or at the Side of the Web Page, you can quickly move between the different sections by just clicking on the Nav Bar.

The OnePager was designed as Mobile First and will open up without problems when using a Phone or tablet. 

You can see an example of a OnePager here and if you follow this link for more information on this product you will see a different type of one Page Web, where the Product Features and Benefits are placed at the top.

Abafazi Logistics Management

Abafazi Logistics Management

The Internet has made it is easier to communicate, often making it not necessary to send documents. Yet, there will always be something that has to be physically sent somewhere.

 So, until we can do like Star Trek and beam objects through space, we will always need the services of a Courier to to carry these to their destination. Often these will be have to be at the destination by a certain time, others are priceless and irreplaceable, and of course there are the valuables.

You are not going to trust your grandmother’s China Tea set to just any Tom, Dick or Harry, you need to know it will arrive intact at the destination.

I met Desire of Abafazi Logistics Management at a Breakfast Networking get together for Small Business, a few years ago. This was a woman who wore the hats of mother, wife, running both household and her own successful Small Business.

Abafazi Logistics Management provides a personalised professional service backed up with 20 years of experience,  and Available all year round 24 hours  a day, 7 days a week.

On top of this, only reputable and established courier services a used so you know you can trust them with Granny’s China Tea Set!

 So, next time you need a Courier, give Desire a call.

Track the Cash.

Cash, money, moolah, greenbacks – call it what you like, without money, it is difficult to survive. Commerce cannot take place with it, if you do not have cash to pay or a product of similar value to barter, you are going to come away empty handed.

Business is simply providing a product or service that other people need. They pay you the amount of money you have valued the product or service at. They may pay you cash or with a cheque, they might use a credit card or they may pay the money into your bank account. You may extend them credit and let them pay it at latter time.

Ideally, to survive a business needs to make several sales a month. Because there are  different ways of getting paid, it is easy to lose track of the money. That money must also get used, some of it will be used to pay salaries, some will go to purchase supplies and of course, the object of any business is to make a profit.

Next time you visit a shop, take note of how they process your cash. Most shops will use a till and ring up the sale. Modern tills, even the simplest ones,  will track the cost of the item sold, the item code (if there is one) and work out the change from the amount given. The more sophisticated ones that use a barcode scanner will also adjust the inventory.

Even if you are a Sole Trader and do business in your name and not as company, you should separate the business’s cash from your yours and track it.

I ask my clients to pay me by EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) on receipt of invoice. As money money goes strain into the Bank and I have a Cheque Card I can use for purchases, I can track my income and expense from my Bank Statement. In effect, my Bank Statement acts as my Cash Book. But I go one step further and write up my expenses on a spreadsheet using the  invoices and cash slips i get when making a purchase.

A simple system that works for me which I can then hand over to my account to do anything more complicated.

But what about the guy on the Flea Market, who puts the cash you give straight into his pocket. Any time, money changes hands for a service or product, that is commerce, so if the guy on the flea market was serious, he would track his cash and inventory. Simply writing it up in an exercise book would also work.

Money has a habit of disappearing if not tracked – how much do you think is in your wallet, now go check. Less, right!

Seen around Cape Town

Moving so no time for a real post. This photo was taken in Gie Road that runs between Food Lovers market and Harold Cressi School where Trevor manual went to School. Nice to see that they are extending.

This is one school where the scholars take pride in their school and their appearance, which unfortunately is not something you see a lot of these days.

Gie Road Cape Town

Straight Jackets and Small Business.

People go into business for themselves for a variety of reasons. Often, they believe they can improve on the way their present employer does things. So they draw up a Business Plan and get funding.

When starting a Business there is the euphoric state that comes with being your own boss. You go out and meet prospective customers, who all promise to get back to you. But soon, when all the business you have been promised, simply does not materlise and your cash flow is starting to cause you problems, reality kicks in and you wonder what ever made you think you could do it?

Before you start to poopah, remember South African Small Business has finally woken up to the fact that failure is often part of the learning process. There will be times when you are going to be tearing your hair, times when you will break down and cry and times when you will believe yourself a complete and utter failure.

Having to rely on yourself can become stressful, you are your admin, sales and marketing departments, as well as the operations engine. No matter how much you can sub-contract or delegate, the ultimate responsibility is yours and yours alone. So, when you cannot pay your bills or draw a salary, you are going to stress.

Stress and Depression go hand in hand, you will find it an effort to get up in the morning and will find any excuse not to.

Breaking the cycle of stress and depression is not easy and you will not do it without help. You will never prevent Stress and to be honest, some stress is a good motivator.

To keep stress at a controllable level, you need to put the following place;

  • Make your own lunch,  you saving money and cutting out the junk, you are also taking yourself away from work and concentrating on something else,
  • Cut out the fizzy drinks, they are just caffeine and sugar, drink water and juice rather.
  • Limit your Coffee and Tea, try Green Tea or Rooibos,
  • Talk regular Walks before or after Lunch
  • Of course you could also join a Gym or go jogging,

Your relationships are important, family and friends are the people you should turn to first when you need help.

When starting out, most work from home. This is a great way to save costs, but it is lonely, making it easy to get depressed, which leads to stress. You do not have the socialising you get in an office. One way to get around this is to sometimes to work from the local coffee shop where you will get WiFi to help you work. But the WiFi is either limited (if free) or expensive. What I found has worked for me is Coworking For a small rent, I get my own desk, fast WiFi, a meeting and a kitchen area.

The space is filled with individuals Freelancing or operation Small Businesses,  making it an ideal place to network and find new business – I already have picked new business here.

Not having Business and therefore an Income is very stressful, but by changing your lifestyle so that when faced with a problem, you have both the mental and physical fitness to meet it head on, you will find that the answers and solutions are easier to come by.

Time is fleeting, madness takes its toll,

And with that, Riff Raff, the handy man in the Rocky Horror show  summed up the dilemma that faces most small businesses.

There are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. You can carry on working, when everyone else goes home or you can give up your weekends. But, lets face it, you are slaving away and burning out whilst everyone else is relaxed and going to the movies or out for dinner.

Stop!

You need to step back and look at what is taking up so much time. Is it necessary? Can someone else do it and free up your time?

Is it necessary – before you say yes, ask yourself, “If I stop doing this what will happen?” If the world does not come to a screaming stop, the task is unnecessary.

Can someone do it –  take your accounts,  someone who does it for a living, could most probably do what seems to take you forever, very quickly.

But even after you get rid of the unnecessary work and sub contract other work, you may still find you do not have enough time. The ideal solution is to employ someone to do the extra work , if you can afford to do so.

if you can afford to employ someone, you will find that between the two of you, you can take on more work – and more work is always good.

Whether you do take on someone or not you need to plan your day, week, month and year.

You do not need some fancy and expensive tools to do this.

 I use a combination of three free tools to plan. maybe these do not suit you, but using the idea, you can find what works for you. Until recently, I used a large Desk Diary to record everything and used Google Calendar as a backup. Desk Diaries still have their uses and you may find them the ideal way to plan and keep records.

 I stopped using the Diary, because I now can sync my online planners with my PC, Tablet and Smartphone, making my diary superfluous.

 For planning ahead for the year, I use Google Calendar, it is free and I can open it on my PC, Tablet and Phone. In fact, you can do everything on Google Calendar from. planning your day, week, month, tasks.

 I gotten used to planning my Month using a spreadsheet that I have divided into weeks and days. i could do this using Google Calendar and really the only reason I do it, is out of habit. There is also an added advantage that I can work on it offline.

I use Workflowy, an online simple organiser. I prefer using this because it allows me to hight headings and subdivide tasks using indents and bullets.

These are my preferences, you need to experiment with what suits you. Don’t overthink it – a list is only an aid, you need to follow it. You can get by with a scrap of paper that you have written down your schedule on.

A more formal way is the Pomodoro Technique, breaking your day down into timed tasks. Even if you don’t us, you will find it useful in teaching you to control your better.

Remember, time is valuable and wasted time can never be recovered, but there is always a point at which you must take time for yourself – you can learn from experts, but only you can find what works for you!

Cash is King, Debt Sucks!

Money, songs have been written about it, books have been written about, it has been termed the Root of all Evil and we are told that it cannot buy happiness.

But, without it it, we die! Whoops, did I say die – you need money to buy food, clothes and shelter, the necessities of life and if you are sick, medicine costs money.

A business is made up of physical elements, the people who staff it, the premises it operates from, the products it sells. These cannot survive without money, staff have to be paid, rents and mortgages have to be paid and products have to be manufactured using materials that have to be paid for.

Money is as important to us as the air we breathe. It is only evil or leads to grief  if used incorrectly. We all have the right to not just survive but to be comfortable.

 A business gets its money from the sale of products or services. Sometimes, money is exchanged for goods or services immediately, but often, in business  the product is handed over or the service performed with the promise of payment at a later stage.

If the supplier has sufficient cash in the bank to cover their expenses until they get paid, they are in the black* but if the have insufficient funds they are in the red.*

*before accounts were done by computer, they were written up in black if your account was in credit or red if overdrawn.

Cash flows in and out of the bank, if you balance your account at the end of the month and there is money in the bank, you have a positive cash flow, otherwise ou have a negative cash flow and if it happens frequently, you are in trouble.

 You can stabilise your cash flow, but making more cash sales, taking out a loan, selling off assets and chasing customers who do not pay on time. You may also consider taking a deposit.

As a freelance Website Designer, I follow the industry standard of taking a deposit up front and the balance on handover. Do not get bullied into working for the promise of money at future date, if someone does not want to pay you they will come up with every excuse in the book.

 As my ex-boss would say, you cannot go in to the supermarket and buy you groceries and promise to pay for them at a latter stages – you will get laughed at. So why get unnecessary credit**?

**Sometimes credit is necessary to get the client – ask yourself is it worth the trouble?

 

Warm up your Cold Calling.

I once was looking through the posts on a local business forum, when I came across a post;

need work, prepared to do anything, except cold calling

Actually, the post read, Desperate for work, and someone commented,that if he was so desperate for work, why not do cold calling, after all it is work.

I know I get annoyed when interrupted at work by a call trying to sell me something I do not need and if they are persistent, I put the phone down. Yes, people tend to be rude even abusive when getting nuisance calls, but this mainly because the caller is reading off a script in a rather bored voice or is pushy.

But for any small business to survive, they need paying customers and the best way to get new business is to cold call. Cold calling is very difficult, unless you are prepared. Simply taking the phone directory and calling the numbers listed will not get you very far.

You need to prepare.
First ask yourself, what is your product or service and who needs it?
Next ask yourself, where you will find them?
Now make a list of potential clients.
Research and qualify the businesses on your list;

Location
Anything special or unusual
Who is the decision maker
Contact Details

Now prepare your pitch and phone them. Remember to smile, don’t be fooled by the fact you are behind a telephone, a smile does affect your voice quality and makes you sound better. Be polite, you will most likely get through to a gatekeeper. tell them why you are calling and ask who you should speak to. remember to use any special information you may have learnt to help warm up the call.

You may get an objection, again don’t be rude or pushy, offer to send them your brochure or even better ask if you can add them to your email list. You want to keep the door open.

What I have learnt from Cold calling, I was never shouted at, nobody was rude, I did get a lot of objections but I also got requests for more information as well.

You need to track everything,

When you called
Who you spoke to
What reaction you got
Any action you need to do
Diarise when to call back

Call Calling is about persistence, not everyone is ready to buy when you call them, you need to nurture the lead and stay in contact, so when they are ready to buy, they remember you.

You will get objections, and when dealing with them, never raise your voice or be rude, listen to the objection before answering. Use phrases like, I am glad you asked that or Good Point, when answering. Yes you need to humour them without sounding like you are humouring them.

When you prepared you pitch, you had to look at it from your client’s point of view and prepared yourself with answers to the most likely objections.

By being prepared, knowing who you are dealing with and cold calling becomes easier.