Many of the business owners that wind up here have a problem that needs fixing. Sometimes it’s pretty urgent. Other times it’s a website that they know has been causing them to lose out on business for a while. Regardless, they don’t usually want to hear about my qualifications. While that concerns me, and we’ll come back to that, I want to say to those folks: I hear you.
Whether you have an emergency or not, read on to see why working with me is the best decision a local business can make. I’ll also tell you what steps to take to ensure you get what you need from whomever you choose to help with your site.
I live it
I’m the solo owner of the simpler web, and have been since founding it in 2009. I started the business after being laid off and deciding it was the nudge I needed to start working closer to real life instead of just dreaming about doing it someday. When I say “real life” I mean working with people who have 10 employees, or zero employees, instead of 100 or 10,000. People in my town, or some other town like it, who may be B2C or B2B – but are rarely BS.
Not long after I launched the simpler web, the company my husband worked for failed. It was the third time in a year and a half he’d been at the mercy of a company, as well as an industry he grew to dislike. He said “I’m done,” and turned his avocation for the inner workings of firearms into a successful gunsmithing business. As a one-man operation, he deals with everything: small margins, government paperwork, dirty hands, liability and more. Small business is a frequent dinner table topic. Frequent as in nightly.
Your challenges matter
Not only am I married to the owner of a local small business, I own a local small business myself and have worked with the owners of several local small businesses. I may not know your day minute by minute, but my experience has taught me a lot about the ups and downs of profits and clients.
The constantly evolving marketing landscape that makes last year’s successful effort as effective as money down the crapper this year. Trying to reach and win over people that compare you to something inferior or mass produced, or just reach anybody who might care about what you have to offer. Customers used to doing business with chains that have razor-thin margins and employees who give away the store because it’s not coming out of their family’s mortgage money. Above all, the responsibility for products, service, marketing, administration, operations, branding, supplies, sales – everything – is ultimately all you.
Maybe you look at your website and say “I don’t need another job – thanks.”
At least, until you realize not dealing with it is costing you more time and money than hiring an expert who can help you have an effective site. It’s an important realization. Because when you find the right person, it’s like having a business partner that compliments your strengths and weaknesses, and helps show your business at its best. Well, except that you call the shots and you don’t have to share a percentage of revenue.
The next right step
If you make it to the point where you actually start looking around for qualified help, you may feel overwhelmed by trying to make sense of widely disparate pricing, by uncertainty about what you actually need, and by a lack of expertise about websites that makes choosing an option an act of blind faith.
So, what do you do, if I’ve described a situation similar to yours? No, I’m not going to tell you to just call me. I’ll give you actual advice which may or may not lead you to me. Do these things:
- Ask other successful, trusted business owners for recommendations.
- Search the Internet; local to you is usually most helpful if you’re not a web expert.
- Look through all of the pages on the firm or individual’s website, and several pages of at least three recent projects, which they should have posted on their site. All should work well, be easy to use, have a professional appearance and really sell the business.
- Know your budget, make sure it’s realistic, and be up front about it.
- Decide which firms or individuals merit followup. To make sure you’re gathering the right information, ask each one these questions when you speak with them. Here are my answers to those questions, in PDF form.
- When it comes to choosing who to work with, listen to your gut.
About those qualifications…
Too often I get calls from people who haven’t looked at anything I’ve done, or checked my qualifications, and it’s not always because they got my name from someone they trust. Yes, I’d like it if they respected what I have done. But more importantly for them, if they’re not taking the steps I’ve outlined above they run the risk of making a costly mistake. If you read my testimonials you’ll see at least a couple from people who hired the wrong person before hiring me. I hate that.
Please — do take the steps I’ve outlined above.
If I make your list, I look forward to talking to you about what you need and how I can help. It’s most helpful if you get in touch using my Contact page, but you can also call if that’s easier. Just know that I don’t have a secretary and handle all projects and calls personally, so you may have to leave me a voicemail. But I will return your call – usually the same day. My number is 678-310-SMPL (7675).
For a traditional bio and more information about my experience, please visit my background page.
The short version
In the video below I talk about some of what I’ve covered above, and offer some related suggestions. Carl Olson of CarlOlson.TV interviewed me, and shot and edited the video, and he made me look 1,000 times less awkward than I actually felt : )