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Small Business IT- What you need to know and where to begin. – Step 7: Website

We are back. Yes there has been some time since we last posted, but we are back and ready to continue your small business journey with you.

Every company should have a website. I will say it again. Every company should have a website. Let’s think about it. When you are looking for a business or service, where do you look? I think the majority would say they go to the internet to find what they need. It is the truth. There is no getting around it. It is just a fact of life these days. If they can’t find you on the internet, you don’t exist. Period. That being said, it doesn’t have to be a fancy or flashy website. It can be simple, but you really do need one.

There are important things that need to be on your website.

What is the name of your website? This should be a given.

What is your business and what services do you offer?  Give potential/current clients an explanation of what you do. Make it clear and easy to understand.

How and when can they find you? Include all the information that is necessary for them to locate you. If you work online, you may only need an email address. If you have a physical location, include the address and phone number. You want customers so make sure they can easily access your contact information.

How do I build a website? This is a very good question. For some of you, this step will be easy. For others of you, it may be a little, or a lot, more challenging. Some of you may choose to build your own website. Some of you may choose to have someone build it for you. Whatever route you choose to get it done, just do it. Make sure people can find you with a few clicks of a button.

If you chose to use the web hosting I offer, it comes with WordPress. It is easy to install with a few clicks of the mouse. WordPress has a simple drag and drop template page builder that has plugins to do all sorts of things. You can include anything from  shopping carts to slideshows to facebook links. It is easy to make it what you want it to be.

There are also more advanced website builders.  You can pay someone to do it for you, but this could cost a lot of money. You decide.

An important thing to remember is you want to own the web hosting you use and have the website through your web hosting. This is important because you don’t want the company that builds your website or runs it to hold it hostage. Unfortunately, this really does happen. I wouldn’t say it if it hasn’t been a problem. If you have more questions about this, leave me a comment, and I will help you out.

My sister has put together a website for her business.  She runs The Merrill Project using WordPress. She built this website and manages it with little to no web builder experience. Go check her out. She is amazing and has fantastic tips, tricks, and services to help you be prepared for emergencies and life. You won’t regret it.

If you are looking for a place to find someone to put together a web site for you, I like FIVERR. They have a variety of web designers for you to choose from. **Please note that if you choose to use FIVERR, I do not personally endorse any of the designers. Use them at your own risk.**

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and create your website. You will be glad you did.

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Small Business IT- What you need to know and where to begin. – Step: 6 Web Hosting

Web Hosting. This is a tricky one.  The options are endless. The sky is the limit, or at least it seems that way sometimes. They all say they are the best. “I can do x, y, z. Choose me.” “But I can do a, b, c. I am the best option.”  There really are so many choices. But let’s put all joking aside. Whatever you choose, you want to make sure you choose a host that lets you control your website.  They all have different features. Some may appear to be inexpensive and then charge extra money for basic features. Others may appear to be the BEST and then fall short.  You then get stuck moving to a different host (which is a hassle) or paying the extra money.  Really frustrating.

So here is my opinion on the subject. First of all, really do your research before picking a host. Ask people what they use. Read reviews. Then make your decision. I do have web hosting that I use and resell. I like it because I have almost total control over it. I love that it offers me anything that I need. It also has great tech support, if I get stuck, at no extra cost. You can find it here.

Good luck. We will see you back here for the next step soon.

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Small Business IT- What you need to know and where to begin. – Step 5: Business Cards

Congratulations! You now have everything you need to create your business cards.

This is a good subject for me to discuss because I need to be reminded of this step.  There are many times when I am out and about and people ask me for my business card or I go to give them a card and I DON’T HAVE ONE. This is because I either didn’t put them in my wallet, car, backpack, etc. or I ran out of them. (Insert palm to forehead.) I wish I could say I learn from my mistakes but that isn’t always true. It is hard for me to look back on the missed opportunities I could have had for business. (Insert another palm to forehead.) But the past is the past and I guess I should take my own advice.

When companies are small and just starting out, business cards are one of the things that get put on the back burner as too expensive and something they can’t afford. I also hear the excuse, “I don’t have all my stuff so I can’t make my cards yet.” BUT they are important.  If you have been following along with the steps, you should have a logo, a phone number, and an email address. “But I don’t have my website built yet, ” is what I hear next. You have a domain name (www.yourdomainname.com). You don’t have to have your website set up. It can be a work in progress. (We will get to this in another step.) You do have the information people need to contact you for your services and you are ready to get your cards.

There are many options for getting business cards. You may need a lot or a little. That will depend on your business. You can print them yourself. You can order them from somewhere for a more professional look. It is all up to you. I choose to get mine from Vista Prints. They have a good selection and they make ordering easy. There are more companies than I can count that can help you. It depends on what you want.

The point is, don’t be like me. Don’t let yourself be caught without a business card when you need one. Get them. Keep them where you can find them. Use them. They are a great way to help your business grow.

 

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Small Business IT- What you need to know and where to begin. – Step 4: Logo

Now for the LOGO step. This could be the most expensive step (or not), depending on the options you choose. This is what you will use for branding. This is important because it is the way people will begin to recognize who you are and what you do. It could change as you go.  You can design one yourself. A lot of people just grab a word art and use it. You need to be careful using some of these because of copyright. There are a lot of rules and you just need to make sure you are following them.  If you are one of the many less creative people, or someone who does not want to deal with designing your own logo, you can have someone do it for you. There are many options to choose from. When I did my logo, I chose to use 99designs. Yes, it cost more than some, but that is the way I chose to go.  It was about $200, and I now have the copyright for my logo.  There are other places you can get logos and their prices vary.  FIVERR is another good place to get help.  You can have a friend draw one for you.  Whatever you choose to use, remember that it is important for you to choose a logo that is suitable for your line of work and business.

 

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Small Business IT- What you need to know and where to begin. – Step 3: Phone

Today let’s talk phones. We need them. We all have them. It seems like we can’t live without them.

This one might seem like a weird discussion since everyone has a phone, right? This step could be considered optional….. but hear me out. If you are going to interact with the consumer in any way at all, I suggest that you get a different number from your personal line. The options are endless really. Here are a few suggestions. You could use google voice or Godaddy business line. This might cost a few bucks a month. I even sell IP phone systems with numbers that can be forwarded to your cell number. This is cheaper than having a dedicated phone, and it will allow you to separate your business calls from your personal calls. I mean at 11 pm you probably don’t want to talk to an angry consumer, but you may want to hear from your kids, friends, or parents. Deciding what you will use should be done sooner than later. You could wait, but then your customers, website, business cards, etc. would have your old number and it would take some work and cost to change things and let people know of the changes.

So decide if a phone number is something that you want. Seriously consider it. It will help you in the long run.

 

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Small Business IT- What you need to know and where to begin. – Step 2: Email

Congratulations! By now, you should have a domain name.

The next step is to set up your email account.  You are going to want to have a way for people to communicate with you. Because you have a domain name, you can now have an email address at whoever@yourdomain.com. Doesn’t that look professional?  It is simple to use. The mail sent to this address can forward to an email account that you use now. It looks a lot more professional than  whoever@gmail.com.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Gmail. It is great. It is just not great for your business.  It looks low key and gives the impression that you are not committed.

Now, this email address is not an email account. You cannot send email from this account. This may not be necessary for your business and it is completely fine. If you want to go a step further, you can get an email account  for $1.99 a month. This will allow you to SEND email from your email address instead of just receiving them.

So let’s do some math. You spent $10-$15 for your domain name for the year. Now you spend $1.99 a month to be able to communicate with your customers. You are now sitting at $34-$39ish for the year. Not bad. That is under $4 a month. That seems pretty affordable to have a professional way for your customers to find you and for you to communicate back with them.

Set up can be simple and if there are questions, I am always available at my email address,  Irving@TryonComputers.com.  (Doesn’t that look professional?)

Go ahead. Take the next step today and get yours here. You will be glad you did.

 

 

 

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Small Business IT- What you need to know and where to begin. – Step 1: Domain Name

Thanks for coming  back!

Let’s get started.

The first thing you need for your business is the name. Yes, the name is very important.  With the way people use the internet, you will also need to look online for a Domain Name for your business. You do not want to be without one. Your business will have more opportunity down the road to grow and more accessibility if you have one.  It is a simple investment. They run between $10 to $15 per year. That is a few cups of coffee, a few sodas or a lunch out. That is a really cheap investment that will benefit you in the long run. That will also allow you to see if someone else already has the Domain Name of the company that you would like to begin. It saves headaches down the road with duplicate names. It is easier to figure it out now instead of trying to fix it later. My wife and I have done this when we have talked about doing business on the side. Before we did anything else, we first looked at available domain names.  Later, if something did not come from it, we were only out $12 or less.  That’s not to say that we do it on a regular basis, but it has been helpful a few times. If you are going to start a business, don’t skip this step.  If don’t have at least this much to invest in your new startup, then you may want to reconsider starting at this time.

In the next step, you will see why the first step is so crucial. Really. I promise. Come back and find out. You won’t regret it.

 

Go here to look for your Domain Name.

 

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Small Business IT- What you need to know and where to begin.

Hey All,

I talk to people all the time that tell me, “Hey, I am going to start a side business.” That is great! What they don’t always understand is how to get started on the IT side.  I am going to begin a series of posts on How To Get Started.  Stay tuned so you don’t miss out.  There will be plenty of useful information to help you in the New Year.

Irving