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All Aboard The Blunder Bus

by fatweb

blunder-bus

By Davina Richards

When starting out or running a small business, small errors can be costly. To avoid the dreaded ride on the blunder bus, here are a few tips to ensure you get things right the first time round.

Get it right online

So you’re about to start your own small business or you’ve been operating for a while and there’s one thing missing – a website. With a plethora of ideas and designs available, creating a distinguished web design that reflects your business in the right way can be tricky and what you may like may not be liked by online users. To design an effective and successful website you need to understand what the common mistakes are.

It might be obvious, or maybe not, but when it comes to web design one vital thing to remember is to keep it simple. Entering a website which is too fussy and complicated is a great disadvantage to your business.

Usability allows quick access, allowing you to move in and out of web pages and do it without restrictions. Like any internet user, you want information on demand and a click away at all times. Creating a website that is cosmetically sophisticated needs to be toned down; apply the “less is more” axiom to get the most out of your website.

Web design mistakes are easy to make, but it’s up to you to avoid those problems which is detrimental to the success of your business.

  • Keep the design simple – unnecessary funky font, styles, colours, scrolling text or flashing icons does not make for a professional business set-up
  • Easy navigation is essential. Don’t turn people off by turning them away
  • Up-date your website religiously, no one likes to reach a dead end or realise they’re viewing something that’s last year’s news
  • Make it clear what your business is about and what you can provide on the home page
  • Don’t clutter your homepage with too much text – abide by the ‘s’ word simple.
  • Allow important information such as contact details to be clear to online users – sometimes it’s all they were searching for
  • Avoid drop-down menu’s – users should be able to view information straight away
  • Make links visible and maintain a contrasting colour
  • Keep the message and tone of your information the same – continuity
  • Use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to enable you to drive traffic towards your website through internet search results.

Running before you’ve learnt to walk

An easy mistake to make is trying to break into a new market before you’ve done your homework.

It’s a risky business when it comes to improving the growth of your business by seeking a new market to explore. But before you find yourself dreaming of green fields and gold, it’s crucial to acknowledge that it’s market research which will enable you to make a smooth transition from one small step to one big step.

Okay, so you’re not quite the do-it-yourself type and having someone to do the work for you may seem like a good idea, but some things in life shouldn’t come with a price tag.

If you already own a successful business you should be aware of how you got there. Remember those days of focused planning, targeting, looking for potential customers, making contacts and all that time spent on each and every step?

It’s the same approach if you want to find a secure place for your product, service or company in a competitive environment. If it all pays off this new branch of opportunity can transform and catapult you in to a thriving business.

Use demographic surveys to find out more about potential customers. It bodes well to recognise trends and prepare for unexpected changes in the market – so keep up to date to avoid surprises.

Make use of the internet; generate traffic to your website to put your product or service on the map. It also makes sense to make use of the business contacts you already have; network online and offline.

Research how other businesses or companies, especially competing ones, distribute their information and learn from their strategies. If you want to guarantee an increase in product sales and an influx of new customers, do your homework.

New clients don’t grow on trees and you’ll soon realise that market research essentially becomes the backbone to having a successful business.

Old vs. new

It has never been more obvious when it comes to PC technology that what you own is going to be old news and old technology within the next year. The question is – is buying second hand, replacing components or trying to build a new computer out of old parts worth your money, time and effort?

We’re thinking… no.

Some of us try to take the supposed ‘inexpensive’ route of upgrading computer systems by undertaking a DIY job, but for most, this can be a more costly option.

Ever listened to someone who told you he can find you replacement hard drives and graphic cards that are dirt cheap? Then you smiled and said “sweet deal” and off he goes? You then return to your desk where you carefully unscrew and remove parts hoping you’ll remember where to put them all back again.

And at the end of it all you only find an anti-climax. Your computer is on but the components you bought on the cheap don’t work because on an old PC, maximum speed is not possible. Your so-called mechanical awareness and knowledge has left you feeling deflated.

Why waste hundreds of dollars on materials that aren’t guaranteed to work and as a result pay out hundreds of dollars to get it fixed – for the same price as buying a brand spanking new PC.

So unless you are a technician by trade, DIY jobs and buying components cheaply equals epic fail and a small bank haemorrhage.

Image and voice

Being in charge of a company’s brand – shaping and influencing the reputation of a company, client or product is a challenging role to undertake. The best thing to remember is to stay level-headed and not run around like a headless chicken at the height of stress.

You have to live and breathe through the lines that bond communication – and thorough planning and marketing is needed to lock in the desired message you want listeners to hear and the image you want the public or important figures to see.

A typical day in a life of any business owner can bring unexpected changes that challenge you to problem solve and force you to think on your feet. A company relies on the need to make the right decisions when dealing with relationships relating to management, employees, consumers and media channels.

Juggling 10 balls in one hand can sometimes take you off course, but being systematic and careful in your approach will aid you to hit targets successfully.

  • Communication comes in all forms – whether it be online, over the phone, in print, or speech, make sure all the information is accurate, consistent and effective in the way you communicate it
  • Be loud and clear so there is no confusion or misguided information
  • Have a plan, set targets and work to deadlines
  • If you’ve achieved your goal, don’t forget about it. Manage it – assess the results and how you came to achieve it
  • Where there’s a positive result there is usually something negative to balance it out. It may be a crisis that requires you to keep a cool head and be timely when you recognise it. Be level-headed and try to avoid any aggression, or getting on the defensive side, it goes against the idea of creating a positive image
  • Mistakes are inevitable, how you recover from them is the key skill.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Sometimes it’s just too easy to push human resource (HR) issues to the back of your list of priorities. But to keep work life in smooth flow, taking care of your HR is taking care of professional and sound business.

Divert some of your attention to how business is run behind closed doors; if documents are not up to date and not signed on the dotted line, there’s going to be a staircase of difficulties to climb when you approach legal issues.

OKay so it’s easier said than done when it comes to letting an employee go who lacks effort, enthusiasm and promotes nothing but poor performance. But if a lawyer comes-a-knockin’ and informs you that you are being sued for wrongful dismissal, you’re going to wish you had paid closer attention to vital protocol you should have adhered to all along.

Policies, contracts, employee handbooks, recordkeeping should always be up to date if you are going to back yourself up in a legal situation. Obviously no one likes to see their business struggle to the end of unprofitability.

Be on top of your HR to avoid costly mistakes:

  • Understand the rules and regulations of the New Zealand Employment Act
  • Document new employees and set aside
  • time to make sure all legal paperwork is accurate, is understood by both parties, and the ink is dry
  • Identify and abide by the laws and regulations to ensure a smooth running business. Beware of changes and always inform employees if it directly affects them
  • You can’t protect yourself or your business without insurance cover – it’s the one
  • thing that will protect you from legal
  • claims put forward from past/current and potential employees and employment-related allegations
  • Don’t rush in to hiring – take the time to consider all candidates and their key skills. Someone who is ‘nice’ but only puts in little effort might not be best for business and could potentially be a headache if you have to get rid of them
  • Monitor the progress of employees and inform them if they are underachieving in certain areas of work. Making them aware of their weak points gives them a chance to improve. And don’t forget to give a bit of praise when necessary – appreciation goes a long way.

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