Small Business

How to Choose a Domain Name

How to Choose a Domain Name

By on Sep 14, 2012 in Small Business, Web Design | 0 comments

Your domain name is how people find you on the web. You will use your domain name for your website and your email address. Therefore, it is extremely important that you spend some quality time and do your research when coming up with a domain name. The tips below will provide some guidance on how to go about choosing a domain name that is perfect for your website. Selecting a domain registrar Selecting a reputable domain registrar is the first and most important step in registering your domain. We are affiliated with Site5 and recommend them to our customers. As with anything you buy online, make sure you do your homework and check reviews before selecting a domain registrar. Registering a domain, regardless of the registrar you choose should cost you in the range of $10/year. If you find a registrar that is charging you a lot more than this you should probably look elsewhere. Most registrars also complicate what should be a relatively simple process of registering a domain by offering a myriad of add-on services the typical small business does not need. If in doubt, call the registrar or if we are designing your website let us know and we will explain in plain English what they mean and provide recommendation based on your needs. Domain name extension or TLD When registering your domain you will have the option of many URL extensions based on business type, regional, personal etc. For example should you register .com, .net, .org, .biz, .us, .ca, etc. The choice here depends on your type of business/website, where you are located and a number of other factors. By far the most popular extension is .com, and we strongly recomend that you register a .com for your business if available. You can always register additional domains and redirect them. For example, a non profit would usually register domain such as nonprofit.org which will be the primary domain. However, it makes sense to register nonprofit.com and redirect it to nonprofit.org. Most people remember and most of the time will assume that your URL ends with .com. Another example would be a business based in outside the US (i.e. Canada). The primary domain can be mybusiness.ca and mybusiness.com can redirect to mybusiness.ca. Whatever your situation,...

Read More
How to Choose a Web Designer

How to Choose a Web Designer

By on Sep 4, 2012 in Small Business, Web Design | 0 comments

This article is primarily aimed at self employed individuals and business owners looking for a small business web designer (either a freelancer or a company) to build and design a custom website, relatively fast at a reasonable cost. You probably would have already done a few searches on Google (I got 250 million results) and soon realized that this can be a daunting task. After all, there are thousands of website design companies and they all say they are awesome. You don’t have time or money to waste, so how do you make the right choice the first time. Hopefully this post will provide some guidance and make the process a little bit easier. Why do I Need a Website? Because everybody else has one? Yeah, that’s one reason, but take some time to think about what you hope to achieve with a website. Do you want to simply provide information to prospective customers, sell products online, provide additional services to existing clients, all of the above? Doing this step will help you figure out what website design expertise you need and clearly communicate your requirements to the web designer. What are the Website Services that I will Need? Now that you have figured out why you want a website, you will be able to determine which of the following services you will need. Website Design and Development This will cover the website layout, graphics, text location, colors scheme and navigation. Any programming needed to make the website function as designed will also be included. Domain & Hosting For your site to go live it needs an address and home on the Internet. The address is your domain name (i.e. thenetstuff.com) and the home will be online storage space provided by a website hosting company. Some website design companies can also register your domain and host your website, while others can guide you through the process and recommend what you need. There are many good web hosts out there, we use Site5 as we have found they provide excellent service at a reasonable price. Online Marketing This can include everything from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Social Media Optimization (SMO). This area can get complicated and expensive, but every website should have at least some...

Read More
Best Free Small Business Software Tools

Best Free Small Business Software Tools

By on Jul 19, 2012 in Small Business | 1 comment

What do small businesses and start-ups look for when searching for software tools? Value for money, quick to setup and easy to use. There are thousands of great tools out there, so we used the following criteria to filter the list. Free (or provide a free version with adequate functionality) Need to get up and running fast (sign up and start using the basic functionality in under 2 hours) Easy to use (intuitive enough for you get started by going through a quick video or tutorial, no reading documentation) Accessible from anywhere and multiple devices (web based, no downloads or installations needed) 1. Evernote Evernote is a great tool to capture pretty much anything you want – ideas, meeting notes, lists, web clippings. You can capture in many formats like text, audio and pictures. It’s available as a web application, desktop installation and smartphone app, allowing you to capture anywhere, sync & access. The free version allows you to capture 60 MB of data a month. 2. Wave Accounting Probably one of the best 100% free small business tools out there. Great features for the novice as well as pro including tracking expenses, sending out invoices, integration with bank accounts, reports and journal entries if you want to do some good old fashioned double entry. Their customer service is very responsive, which is hard to find with a free product. 3. Expensify Great for creating expense reports and tracking mileage. It has the ability to import transactions from your credit card which makes matching receipt images (uploaded from a variety of sources such as your smartphone app, evernote, email, capture via chrome extensions etc.) with expenses. Free edition allows you to do all of the above and includes 10 auto scans a month. 4. join.me Quick and easy web conferencing including a dial-in number. Does not have all the bells and whistles of a tool like Webex, but for a free tool it does a great job. 5. WordPress Every business no matter how small needs a website or a blog. If you are somewhat tech savvy it’s pretty easy to setup a website or a blog using free themes and plugins. The best way to go would be to get your own domain and...

Read More
Using LinkedIn for Small Business

Using LinkedIn for Small Business

By on Oct 15, 2011 in Small Business, Social Media Marketing | 0 comments

As of August 2011, LinkedIn has more than 120 million members in over 200 countries and territories. In this blog I have looked at 10 areas to focus on when using LinkedIn for small business. Most of the tips are related to your personal profile as a small business owner, however I have included a few tips to enhance the often overlooked small business company profile. 1. Add websites to your profile Apart from the obvious reason, which is to provide your connections with access to your company website and blog, this will also help boost your search engine rankings. LinkedIn does provide options such as “company website” and “blog”, but select “other” so can you provide your own description. 2. Integration with Twitter and Facebook Depending on the type of business, your social media marketing strategy will use a combination of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. LinkedIn allows you to add your twitter accounts to your profile. By connecting Twitter, your tweets will be posted to LinkedIn as well. You should also connect Twitter and Facebook so the information you share on twitter will also show up on Facebook. 3. Update and promote your public profile LinkedIn allows you to create a “public profile” which appears when people search for you on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. The public profile is visible via a public URL (even if you are not logged into LinkedIn). You should customize this URL instead of the default of www.linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname/40/a55/360. Your customized URL will take the form www.linkedin.com/in/yourname which is easier to remember, can easily be added to email signatures and your website in order to promote your public profile. 4. Add applications Add relevant applications in order to share content and activity on your profile. Blog Link, Reading List by Amazon and Portfolio Display are some of the apps that I have found useful. 5. Recommendations Get recommendations for your profiles as well as for products/services on your company profile. LinkedIn provides a “request recommendations” option where you can request recommendations from your network. You should also give recommendations to colleagues and business partners and more often than not they will return the favor. 6. Demonstrate your expertise Join LinkedIn groups related to your...

Read More
Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips

Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips

By on Sep 12, 2011 in Small Business, Social Media Marketing | 1 comment

Planning and executing an effective marketing strategy can be a bit of a challenge especially for a small business. This is where Social Media Marketing can do wonders for your business. It’s easy enough to setup and affordable too. See my social media marketing tips below that I have personally used for my small business clients. 1. Facebook Facebook is the best social media marketing tool you can find right now. With over 750 million active users all over the world and growing, imagine your small business has the power to target all those people. If you haven’t signed up for Facebook yet, you are missing on the biggest market, so sign up quick! Once you create a personal account for yourself on Facebook, you should create a ‘Page’ for your business. Select the right category for your small business and enter descriptions, website links, photos, videos etc. Go through your competitor Facebook pages to understand what works for them. Once you have setup your page, spread the word amongst your Facebook friends. Remember when you have 25 people who like your page, you should register the username for your page. As an advanced step, you should create a custom welcome page and have different sections for the most popular sections of your business. For example, if you have a restaurant, you should have a section showing the menu, reviews, directions, discounts etc. You should also look into creating Facebook Ads. This is where you can target those 750+ million users on Facebook. 2. Twitter Twitter is another great social media marketing platform for small businesses. Signup today and reserve your business name as the username. This should be done in addition to your own personal twitter account, as there might be instances where you will have tweet as the business and it is also a great way to have your business name out there. Once you setup your twitter account, spend some time searching for various search phrases that your business is closely related to. Remember to search for your competitors and check what they are doing and also search for your own business as people might already be talking about it! As an advanced strategy, get desktop...

Read More