Zombie businesses are out there, and whilst they aren’t exactly coming to eat your brains, it takes brains to avoid sharing their fate. Your small business may even already be a zombie business — or slowly becoming one, without you even knowing it! If that doesn’t sound healthy, that’s because it isn’t.
What Is A Zombie Business?
A zombie company is a business entity that barely manages to stay operational. It may earn just enough to keep running or may rely heavily on lenders to stay afloat, but isn’t earning enough to pay for its own growth, or to reduce its debts. That often puts it just one unlucky event away from collapse — making it a high-risk proposition for investors.
To be fair, most businesses start like that.… Read the rest
If you have a small business, or are thinking of starting one, you need a website. There’s a lot to consider though — and many small businesses fail because they’ve overlooked one or more of the essentials. So here’s how to start a small business website.
Ready? Let’s begin!
What Every Small Business Needs
First, there are a few things every business needs. Hopefully you’ve considered these already, but let’s cover them briefly, just in case.
A Good Offer And A Realistic Target Market
Effective targeting is vital for sales.
The key words here are “good”, “realistic” and “target”.
Startups often hope to sell something they like to “everyone”. That rarely works — especially if no-one else sells anything similar. If there’s no competition, the market may not exist, or may not be sustainable.… Read the rest
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is vital for small businesses. Yet many don’t know where to start. So here are a few things you need to know about small business SEO.
Why Small Business SEO Matters
All websites need visitors, but visitors who are searching for your services are among the most likely to convert into customers. Unfortunately, most are too busy to read past the first Search Engine Results Page (or “SERP”). So for any given search phrase, sites on the first page tend to get 75% of the traffic available for that phrase, with almost 20% going to the first result.
We all do that from time to time. As site owners, though, we need to focus on the next step in most searches.… Read the rest
A lot can go wrong with cheap website design — and often does!
How Cheap Websites Often Kill Small Businesses
Small businesses often search for “cheap website design”. That’s understandable, but there’s a catch.
Underinvesting in your website will cost you far more in the long run. It can even cost your entire business.
This is not a pitch. It’s a warning. Over the past 25 years, I’ve rescued many small firms who made this mistake. So I’d rather help you avoid it. It may not be what you want to hear, or what flaky marketers want to sell you, but it’s the truth. This page explains why it’s true.
Also, that does not mean every website needs a five or six figure budget. What it does mean is that simply seeking the cheapest web design you can find is likely to cripple your business.… Read the rest
… Read the rest
Small businesses and startups often seek affordable websites — but what makes a website “affordable”? How do you set a website budget?
In fact, it mainly depends on whether it’s a personal site, or a business site.
Why? Because whilst personal websites often cost money, successful business websites do not. In fact, contrary to the hype of DIY platforms and cut-price cowboys, a cheap business website can easily cost you more than a professional one.
How To Budget For A Personal Website
Personal websites aren’t built to make money. So traffic isn’t their priority, and even if monetised with ads or affiliate income, that isn’t their key goal. They aren’t expected to pay for themselves. They also often depend on “bootstrapping” — personal funding from savings, friends and family.
Life goes faster than you think.
I was going to write about how procrastination kills projects seven months ago. That article wasn’t going to be so personal.
Then life got in the way. As it always will, if you let it. So what happened?
Out of the blue, my partner of over 25 years got a diagnosis so terrifying that we had an emergency wedding. “Emergency” as in, we woke up that morning not knowing we’d be married by teatime.
Eternal thanks to the Newport Registry Office, the Royal Gwent Hospital, and the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff for facilitating that. Even more so for making her condition more manageable for now.
Yeah, writing a blog post pales into insignificance in the face of that, doesn’t it?… Read the rest
Professional websites are marketing vehicles
Professional websites can seem like big investments to small business owners. Online marketing is such a huge topic that it can be hard to work out where to begin.
So why do small businesses need professionally designed websites? Here’s an analogy that may help.
Professional Websites Are Marketing Vehicles
Your website is your main marketing vehicle in the non-stop race for sales. To extend that analogy, hosting is the garage you rent for it, and your domain is the address of that garage. Site visitors are passengers that you pick up briefly, and some of them convert into customers.
However, your vehicle won’t get far without regular maintenance (support and updates) and good driving (active marketing). Leaving it in the garage achieves nothing, no matter how pretty it is or how much work you put into it.… Read the rest
Everyone loves cheap web design — until they learn that it takes far more than low prices and fancy graphics to build a business website that works. That can be a hard lesson about cheap web design risks, but it often gets worse. Because cheap web designers often disappear.
This can be a touchy subject though, so let’s be clear: most experienced web designers I know are talented people who only want to help. That said, experienced web designers are rarely cheap web designers.
Still, I have just spoken to yet another distressed small business owner. His cheap web designer had left him in the lurch with a broken website and no access to fix it.
Other business owners had told him this was “typical” of “flaky” designers.… Read the rest
Google’s Core Web Vitals now mean website speed matters even more
In case you haven’t heard, Google’s latest search algorithm update focuses on your website’s technical performance. Specifically, on a group of metrics that Google calls “Core Web Vitals”. So what are these Google Web Vitals, and what’s all the fuss about them for?
What Are Google Web Vitals?
Google’s Core Web Vitals are a small set of key metrics focused on page speed and user experience. Check these three impactful metrics first before undertaking deeper optimizations.
… Read the rest
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how long it takes for the largest content element (e.g. a hero image or heading text) on your page to become visible. Aim for an LCP of 1.2 seconds or less.
- Total Blocking Time (TBT) tells you how much time is blocked by scripts during your page loading process.
Freelancer pricing is a serious matter,
It’s not just a game that you play with your mates,
Though you may think I’m as mad as a hatter,
When I tell you freelancers must know THREE DIFFERENT RATES.
The first is the cost of staying in business,
Your break-even salary plus all business costs,
Divide by the hours that you expect to be working,
If you sell below this, your business is lost.
Next comes the rate that you’d get in job markets,
Those costs, plus your worth as a full employee,
You won’t last for long if you sell below this one –
Morale cannot live on a substandard fee.
But the last is the rate that you really should aim for,
The one that will let you do more than survive,
The fair price returned for the value you offer,
That lets both you, and your customer, thrive.… Read the rest