Doing Small Business Together

G.P.S. -Part 1







GPS as we know it in modern, technological terms refers to a global positioning satellite, utilized for tracking. We, however, use it to basically get to a given destination that we do not know the directions to.  Our phones have them built in, with location services that make it a simple process use.  We simply type or speak where we want to visit, and in an instant (if you have good service) the directions appear, and for our safety, a pleasant voice to narrate them for us.  If only we had that pleasant voice when we are about to make the wrong turn in our businesses. 


               



What do I mean by this?  Well as in everyday life, we need to stay focused in our business or life’s little distractions can derail us from our mission.  

“A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.”- Thomas Carlyle.  


As we set out on our daily tasks, we get overwhelmed by emails, phone calls, pushy clients, and general life issues.  As well, we have a mission we are on in our businesses and all of a sudden an opportunity arises to add services, or grow into another geographical area.  This is very normal to everyday business life.  How do we combat that?  The solution is GPS.


                As my business mentor, Howard Partridgerefers to it, G.P.S. is our Goals, Plans, and Systems that we need to keep our business on track to success.  In order for GPS to work, we need to know a few things. First off we need to know where we want to go, the end game, the reason why we are in business.  After that, we need to understand where we are starting at, what is our current condition of operations and finances.  Once we have these two “addresses”, we can plan a route to get to the goal.  With the goals set, and a plan laid out before you, it is then that you establish systems.    With all three of these set into place, your focus and growth will come a bit easier for you and your team. 

Systems are very important to this process because they establish boundaries for the journey.


                In the next few blogs, I will help break down this process a bit more.  In the meantime though, it would help you to start planning the journey by taking a day off.  That’s right, go and take a day off and relax at the beach.  While you are there though, you do need to take a pad of paper with you and do some dreaming.  Think about the big picture.  What does your perfect business look like?  Are there multiple employees and locations or are you going to do it alone?  How much money do you want to make per year?  As well, what kind of work do you want to limit yourself to, create boundaries in your daily operations, so as not to get distracted from the mission.  You can also find lots of information at Howard Partridges website www.howardpartridge.com.


                

Good luck and enjoy your day off.

-Greg

The E-Commerce Website Myth


The E-Commerce Website Myth


The thought of having a website that generates income while you sleep, is alluring. It's something I think that everybody would love to have. And an e-commerce site seems like a great way to achieve this.
However, this should not a "build it and they will come" plan.

First of all, you need to make sure that you are selling a product on your website that people will feel comfortable purchasing. If it's an item that people generally would need to try on, or try out for themselves, they will be hesitant in purchasing from a name they don't recognize, understandably.

Remember to always put yourself in your customer's place.

Building a name for yourself so people begin to trust your brand is one thing, and a whole other monster all together.

But while you're waiting for people to dive in and start buying, you may need to offer discounts or free samples of what you're selling, if you are able. Whether you are doing that as a vendor at an event, or offer it on your website in exchange for an email, you need to somehow begin to build the trust that allows people to give out their credit card number.

Use pop-up advertisements to exchange a free sample or discount on your product for an email address.




You also, need to work very hard at driving traffic to your website. I have written multiple blog posts about this, but I'll give a quick summary of things to do here:

  • Get listed on all free directories available.

  • Utilize social media, not just on your own page you've created, but post on local and non-local buy and sell pages on Facebook. (For example: San Diego Buy, sell and trade) Join the group and post (make sure to offer a discount, or free sample). Or join groups that relate with your product you are selling, for example: specific groups dedicated to clothing, jewelry, food, etc. Whatever it is you are selling, find the group that matches that interest. Offer specials, coupons and/or free samples for this to be really effective!

  • Pass out printed material (brochures, flyers, etc) offer a discount if they buy online. 

  • Attend events where you can be a vendor and get the word out! Let people know that they can go on your website to order more.
All of these should contain your web address so people can visit if they are interested.

You need to build trust!

Hoping that people will buy your product online requires a level of trust. If they don't know your brand or have tried your product, they will be hesitant. Because they can easily buy a product similar to yours through a site or company that they already trust. Think, Amazon, ebay, Target, etc.

One of the ways that you can build trust to your unknown audience is by offering a guarantee. This makes people feel safe and secure about their purchase, knowing that you will back it up if they are dissatisfied. So keep this in mind.


Blog to get your product out there

Using the blog world:
You can blog about relevant articles or posts on your website. You can also do guest posts on other blogs that your prospective customers will visit. Get other people to review your products on their website. Focus on getting prospective customers to visit your blog or website. Use your site stats or Google Analytics to see which sources bring the most prospective customers and which convert best to sales.*

If you are a new e-commerce site to the scene (less then a year on the web) then it may just be that you need more time. You need more time to rank higher for the people searching for what it is you are offering. You need to time to build trust, and to educate people on what you sell, and why it's the best!

For more aggressive techniques, you may also want to look into advertising on Google Shopping Campaigns

So, to conclude, just having your e-commerce site on the web in an of itself isn't going to be enough to drive traffic/sales your way. Selling products online is just like starting any other business, it's going to take a lot of work and creativity, and offering incentives to build trust. Make sure to ask for reviews from your existing customers so you can post online to build more trust, or utilize yelp.

You will need to invest a considerable amount of time and energy each week to promote yourself/your website/your products.

Also please let me know if you need to create a coupon for your shop. This will be done through your shopping cart software.

Hope this helps

Kate
www.exquisitepixeldesigns.com


* 5 secrets to selling online successfully

The 4 Hour Work Week

The 4-Hour Work Week -- Have you guys heard of this?

I just finished his book. And yes, it really got me thinking...I'm working way too hard at this. I really need to start making smarter and "bigger" business decisions.
Contrary to popular belief, working harder is not equal to more money or success, working smarter is.

Being able to replace yourself and your duties is not only going to grow your business it's just plain smart.

Aside from the obvious reason, that it will eventually free up your time so you can spend it doing more things that matter to you, you need to be replaceable in case something actually HAPPENS to you that prevents you from working as much as you do now. 


Tim gives this scenario in his book, and asks if something happened to you and you actually couldn't work more then 4 hours in a week, what would you do?

So let's ponder this.

Working ourselves to death is not the answer. 
Automating tasks, creating systems, and outsourcing or at least delegating, is.

"working smarter means focusing on the areas in which you’re strongest—and letting go of things you’re doing for other reasons." 



A common misconception small business owners have is that they don't make enough to hire someone yet. That may be true, but it may not. You may be able to outsource to an independent contractor paying them $10/hour,  and charging the client $15/hour - just for example. Besides making money without doing any work and all of that awesomeness, now you've duplicated your productivity, since now you've freed up your time to do what you're best at or what you enjoy most about your business. 

When you really figure out how to nail this method you'll be on your way to growing your business. It's about creating "spill-proof" systems, proper training for those you are delegating to and excellent communication skills with everyone involved.



The idea behind all of this is not to replace yourself completely out of working all together so we can live like lazy bums. But as a small business owner, its too easy to get into a vicious cycle of working 10-12 hour days or more! As well as working on any days off we might have had. Greg and I totally get it. When we owned the carpet cleaning business, this was him for sure. We were hoping to see more of him, since he was leaving the oil fields in North Dakota and a rotation of 2 weeks on, 5 days off,  but after a year of carpet cleaning 12 hour days 6-7 days a week, we started to realize we actually saw him MORE when he worked halfway across the country, 8 months out of the year!

"Working smart comes down to finding the most efficient and effective ways to reach your goals. This often includes leveraging other people or resources and utilizing self-awareness to build on strengths and delegate when appropriate. The more self-awareness you gain about your work style, the more you can find ways to work smarter, not harder and finally achieve the work-life balance you desire."*


I hope some of this was helpful.



Here is a link to his website: https://fourhourworkweek.com/

-Kate
www.exquistitepixeldesigns.com


*Rachel Dresdale (Forbes)

Taking Back Your Time



Taking Back Your Time

Have you ever felt as if you're just living life on the defense? If you're a small business owner and/or a parent, life definitely has the tendency to feel this way.

I know I feel this way most of the time; like my list of things to do never ends. Like the waters of life are drowning me.

After dropping the kids off at school, I am left with 3 hours. 3 hours to do some chores, get a work out in. I'm a Christian, so I really needed some prayer/bible time, and of course I need most of the time to get the business work done that seems to pile up day after day. Because once the kids got home, my time to work dropped in quality. I was constantly needing to tend to them, make sure they were doing their homework, and then of course, cook and clean and be a good house-wife as well.

Let me just say that 3 hours is not nearly enough time. And since work was piling up, that was starting to take priority over everything.

And as a result many aspects of my life were suffering. My health, my spiritual time, and my time for my children.

I was drowning.

I needed a solution.

You need to control your time, or it will control you

I decided that if I don't control my time, that it will control me, as it had been doing.

And so I devised a schedule for myself.
It maps out my typical day.

For example:
From 8:30am-9am Excercise
9am-9:30 Chores
and so on..

While this may seem like an obvious and simple solution, the truth is, it has helped me tremendously.

Now when I get back from dropping the kids off, I fight my tendency to want to get right into washing my dishes and instead I discipline myself to follow my schedule and spend my first portion of time to reading the Bible. Once I'm through I can ease my OCD, and clean up the house. And so on.

The end of my days feel much more accomplished.

Instead of dwelling on what I didn't do that I wanted to, I can feel good about sticking to my schedule and checking everything off.

Will this method work for everyone? Probably not.

I'm sure there are people that just hate that rigidity or just know there's no way they would stick to it.
But I tell you if you at least try, you may be surprised at how you can control your time much more efficiently and accomplish so much more.


Do you have any suggestions for better time management? I would love to hear.

-Kate
www.exquisitepixeldesigns.com

Keep it FRESH!

Keep It Fresh!


Being a small business owner typically leaves us with very little extra time. So the thought of having an employee that works for you 24/7 - namely your website, is a nice welcome relief. And it may be tempting to leave that employee alone to do it's work. But even the best of employees need some maintenance.

Neglecting the upkeep of your website can be detrimental to your Google ranking. Google is constantly seeking the best, the hippest, and the freshest content to deliver to it's searchers. Websites that are stale or simply have no new content will start to drop in ranking.


Here are few quick ways to keep your website updated with fresh content:


Start a Blog
Exquisite Pixel Designs software utilizes blogger.com, which works with your gmail account. Simply log into your gmail account and go to blogger.com to start your blog. Then get started by writing about things your website visitors would find valuable. Be sure to include photos (people like that).
Once you've set up your blogger and created a post or 2, let us know, and we will embed the blog into your website.
Now, every time you create a post on your blogger, it will auto feed into your website. And voila! Fresh new content onto your website.


Social Media

Depending on the social media you are using, you can get an embedded widget into your website and it will auto feed all of your posts. We can do this with Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. (But ask us if you need another social media avenue embedded and we will see what we can do!)

With this widget embedded, every new post from your social media will show up automatically on your website. This will update your website without you ever having to log in.
If you wish to have a social media feed widget in your website, let us know!


Create a Coupon

Our software allows you to add in a variety of elements into your website. If you do not yet have the ability to log into your website, let us know, and we'll get you your log in credentials to you.
Once you're in the back-end of your site, add a "coupon" component. Make it whatever type of special you want.  And then select the option for auto-renew. This will keep this component updated, notifying Google bots that there's something being updated on your website. I wouldn't say this is the best way to keep your site updated, but it will work in a pinch!

Feeds

Depending on your type of industry, you may want to consider embedding some type of rss feed. For example, if you're in the food industry, you may want to add in a recipe rss feed. Maybe a news feed with relative information would best fit your industry. Maybe just a famous blog. Whatever you want to put in, just let us know and we'll get it in your website for you. Then just let the feed do all of the work of updating your website. Really quick! Really effortless!

Just Update Content

This is probably the most obvious, but every once in a while, log into your website and update it with a paragraph or 2. Make sure to add in keywords and the area your service! Google bots love this!

For more information about keywords and SEO, read our post HERE.

You can always add your most recent photos into a gallery or slideshow. Make sure your prices are accurate. Make sure your policies are current. If you have an e-commerce site, it is very important that inventory is accurate as well as pricing. The last thing you want is a customer to buy something that's not actually for sale anymore!

Maybe you've just created a new video, put it in your website! Maybe there's an event going on in your area, add an event component.
Just acquired a new customer testimonial? Put it in your website!

Keep that 24/7 employee updated! And you'll reap the benefits.


 If you prefer not to actually log in and make these changes, no worries! Just shoot us an email, and we'll make them for you!

So there you have it. Some quick ideas to get your website fresh and fun!

Have something to add? Leave it in the comments below.

-Kate
www.exquisitepixeldesigns.com



What Is SEO?

 What is SEO exactly?


Say you own the cutest shop in the world. You sell amazing items, it's decorated perfectly. There's just one nuance..you're situated on a mountain top all by yourself, and nobody knows you're there.

Having the flashiest, coolest looking website means nothing if nobody can find you. That's where SEO comes in. SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is a combination of embedding keywords, sprinkling keywords throughout your content, adding alt text to your images, adding the correct kind of description and titles, and submitting your website to major search engines along with a few other things. Most of SEO is the job of your web designer.

Once you get a website, it should take roughly 3-6 months from time of launch and submission for it to be indexed by search bots. In other words, give your website at least this amount of time for it to come up in web searches.

Does this mean in 6 months your website will be listed in spot #1 in Google for your keywords? More then likely not. But it is possible that it will come up on the first page, if everything has been done correctly.












At Exquisite Pixel Designs, we build SEO into your website using the most relevant and most popular search terms for your industry and location. We have a variety of other tools we use to help your website perform the best that it can, and overall, have great success with our websites and search engines.


And while we have made the most of the content you have provided us for your website, it's important to note that bots love lots of content! So beef up the content on your website whenever you can. Stretch your thinking and start writing about what it is you offer! Insert as much information as you can onto each of your pages. Make sure to include keywords that your target market may be searching for. Update the content at least once a month! Read more about ways you can "keep your content and website fresh!" HERE.

Links from other websites that point to your website help your website reputation. When you're on a relevant blog, you can leave your website. But don't overdo this, or you'll get penalized.
You can also make sure you list your website on your social media avenues, and business directory websites. Read more about where to list your website HERE.

You can also ask someone who has a website if they can link your website on theirs and you can do the same for them! Find industries that are compatible with yours, and not necessarily your competition. This is called backlinking.

All of these are going to help with your website's SEO, aside from what we have already built in. Please be patient with your website and it's performance. Search bots are going to give priority to the websites competing with you that have been around longer and who have hired SEO companies working around the clock for them. And it is going to take some work for your website to make it's way higher in a search. But nothing good comes easy right?


And even though the basics of SEO tend to remain the same, algorithms are always changing, and it's near impossible for any SEO or web design company to know the exact secret recipe for getting and staying in the top position, so no company is going to promise this.

Alright, that's it for this post! As always, we don't stop until you are 100% satisfied, so please let us know how we can serve you!

-Kate
www.exquisitepixeldesigns.com

Small Business Owner Struggles

It is the hope and mission of Exquisite Pixel Designs to bring you great looking, user friendly websites that will help you grow your business by getting your message out to a larger audience.  We also care about you as a business owner and know that it isn’t easy.  That is why we will bring you great resources that will help you figure it out.  Please enjoy this quick read and if you know anybody that may need this information, feel free to pass it on. Read More...

3 Reasons Websites are VITAL for businesses via Forbes.com

First Impressions Count 

Let’s face it – we live in a world where people Google before they shop, visit online review sites like Yelp before they buy and “check-in” via Facebook as they go about their days. Because of this, you want your first impression to be the best it can be. Read More

Why Do I Need A Website?

Reason #1 – Online brochure
Companies spend millions creating brochures and distributing them. By having a website you can skip that entirely. Read More

Isn't a Facebook page enough?

Facebook recently announced there are currently 40 million active small business pages on its service, which shouldn’t come as that big of a shock to anyone. Creating a Facebook business page is free and provides you with access to a user base roughly the size of the population of China.

Armed with this knowledge, it is reasonable to assume that many small business owners would forgo the effort of building a website and simply rely on what the largest social media network of all time can give them at no cost. But is a Facebook page really enough?

Well, let’s explore that idea. A Facebook business page does have some limitations. Granted, it’s an excellent way to engage with your user base, as long as they want to engage with you. If you can get someone to “like” your page, that’s great. You’ve clearly shown enough value to your customer that they want to hear more about what’s going on with your business – at least in the short term.

However, if someone begins to grow weary of seeing your posts, doesn’t engage with them, and stops visiting your page to learn about the latest goings-on, Facebook will begin to take your posts out of your previously-engaged customer’s News Feed. Once that happens, you need to start paying to promote posts to people who have liked you, or begin advertising (which of course, isn’t free) to engage new users.

Another limitation to a Facebook business page is a lack of brand control. Yes, you can put your background photo on it, and yes, you can have your logo as the profile picture. Your posts have your voice and the photos show off who you are and the services you provide. But it’s still a Facebook page and will never give the complete brand experience that a dedicated website will.

Also, valuable information isn’t always readily available right when a user lands on the page. Your address may be there, along with your phone number and a Yelp page, but that isn’t necessarily enough. Many potential customers want to learn a little more about who you are and what you’re about. In comparison, a dedicated website enables you to completely control your brand and acts as a main hub on the web where interested, potential customers can go for all the information they’re looking for.

A dedicated website also has Google search on its side. It’s true a Facebook page can be found via a search engine, but it doesn’t provide the same comprehensive SEO control of a dedicated website. This point should not be overlooked. A website enables you to tailor your content to the exact kind of phrases and keywords your potential customers are searching for, compared to a Facebook page that is limited in this aspect. Showing up as highly as possible in online searches is a critical component of any business’ acquisition strategy.

In short, should you have a Facebook page for your small business? Yes, absolutely. It’s free and it’s brand exposure. Is it enough? Probably not. To create the kind of digital presence that is required for a small business to succeed in today’s world, a dedicated website isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity.

(Reference: Itai Sadan, AdWeek)