Saturday, July 23, 2005

Intentional Identity Theft

Identity Theft is a big thing these days. Everyone is afraid of it, as they should be. So what I can not understand is businesses that inentionally steal their own identity. Everyday I see it, on contractor trucks, business cards and even online advertisements and company websites, intentional identity theft. You have seen it too, but have you wondered why does this business owner or salesperson not think highly of themselves? I do, everytime I see it. It makes me wonder if I want to be their customer, but definately makes me want to be their vendor.

What am I talking about, e-mail addresses. I just cringe when I have been interviewing someone, either as a potential client, Internet Consultant or friend and they tell me their e-mail address is something@theirISP.com. This is bad. When you are doing business and you had someone your e-mail address you are branding your self. This is a very important aspect of marketing, getting you name in front a a contact as many times as possible.

The rule of thumb that I was taught in my marketing education is get your action point across six times to get a descision. Your e-mail address will brand you more than you know. Think about your customer who likes you and refers to you another potential customer. Once they tell them your e-mail address at some ISP (by the way that stands for Internet Service Provider and is the company that provides you connectivity, not hosts your site), that does not help them remember you. Domain names were created so humans could remember where things were on the network. Think about it, it is much easier to remember chris@extremewebworks.com versus chris@216.27.17.71. That is why many business phone numbers are made of words and phrases.

When that potential new customer is given your e-mail address with a familiar ISP, they will remember that ISP, not you because that ISP has most likely branded themselves in their mind. More than likely they have a dozen or more e-mail address ending with the same domain, so the likelyhood they will remember yours is slim. But if you use your company domain, they might remember the domain and at least loook up your website to contact you or someone else at your company. If you do not believe me, you should. I have potential clients contact me every month from my website contact form, saying they were given my e-mail from someone I know. Think about if I had given them an e-mail address at my ISP (by the way I do not even know what that address is), I would probably be short a customer or two today to say the least.

So the moral of the story, get a website, with e-mail and tell everyone you know. If you can not afford that at least register a domain and find somewhere to host e-mail for you. We offer packages like this under $100 per year. There are many other Web Hosting comapnies offering similar packages.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Talking Blogging

I want to thank Norma Owen's "Minding Your Business" group for letting me come speak to them this morning about Blogs. I am new to this stuff, but thankfully they thought I would have some good insight as to how to get things rolling for them.

Some of the links I mentioned in the presentation include:

Marshall Brain - WebKew
Scott Hanselman - Computer Zen
Seth Godin - Marketing Guru
Blogger.com

Thursday, July 21, 2005

e-myth or Just the Right Thing?

Recently I have seen several references to the books from the e-myth group. In particular E-Myth Revisited. This book seem to hit me right between the eyes. I am currently somewhere in the middle, but as I read Saturday afternoon it was like he knew the five year history of my business. It seems I am not alone in the mystery called small business and entrepreneurship.

I think for me to have gotten the premise of this book I needed to go through what it preaches. So I have learned that there are three types of people (from a business point of view); the entrepreneur, the manager and the technician. Many small businesses start when the technician gets tired of working for the boss. That was me! They try to run the business from a pure task and craftmanship point of view and live in the now. Managers just live in the past and have pointy hair (no that is Dilbert's world). Entrepreneurs live in the future and innovate.

So I wont bore you with the details, the escape Gerber teaches about is thinking about your business, not as a job or services that produces something to sell, but rahter look at te business itself as the product. I have recently started realizing this about my business. I really need to start structuring it as if I were going to frnachise it thousands of times over, learn what works and what does not and why. Find metrics and measure, create and document repeatable patterns of success.

What this means to me so far is to complete some internal projects I had to put on hold. This will include initial web provisioning, accounting and trouble ticket implementation on our web site. Standardizing contracts, estimate and change order forms. This will become much easier with the plans for the new site. Finally hiring some help, Amanda you will be getting some things straight for me!

I do reccommend this book for most small business owners. I don't think all would benefit, only those who have been through the wars like I have for 5 years.

Crunch Time

Do you ever notice how when you need clients to decide to go ahead with a project because you a readily available, they don't? And once one client decides to go ahead, the other stragglers follow?

Well that is my world this week. I started working on a rather invovled e-commerce project in early June. I had a few pre-scheduled items during June and everything was fine. I also had several projects I knew would happen eventually, just not when. Well all of those decided they needed to be done and done right now.

Needless to say I am in overload right now, trying not to explode or drop dead. I think it is important to get these things done, but get them done correctly with the least amount of mistakes. This requires full mental capacities. So I am doing my best to take time each day and spend with my wife, take some walks and go to the gym.

Time management is so important right now. So why am I writing this BLOG entry you say. Well I want to make this a part of my everyday routine. I am also giving a preseenation to a group of business professionals in the morning and I want them to see more than one entry!

I am real excited about each of these projects. They are all doing a good job of extending my base frameworks for several verticals and if you really know my business philosophy this is good.

So once these projects are launched, I am planning on going back and applying my upgrades to several older sites and refactoring my development framework to be optimized as best as possible.